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Entries in Bars (152)

Tuesday
Nov262013

Voodoo Lounge Out, Arepas in on Fifth Avenue

If there was one bar in Park Slope that never really felt like a part of the neighborhood's bar scene, it was Voodoo Lounge, on Fifth Avenue between St. Johns and Sterling. I'd never been there, nobody I know had ever been there, and Yelp ratings were pretty bad (if you've ever been there, I would love to hear about your experience). Yet the "sports lounge" still managed to stay in business, until recently, when it closed down quietly. And according to Park Slope Stoop, a new tenant has already been lined up for the space: the owners of Bogota are apparently planning on opening up a new arepa restaurant there.

The restaurant will be called Wepa La Arepa, but not much more information is forthcoming at the time. I've reached out to owner Farid Ali Lancheros, and will update with more details if I hear back from him. One thing is already clear: this new restaurant will be a lot more intriguing than an always-empty bar whose reputation seemed to mostly involve watered-down drinks.

Photo: Yelp/ Andy H.

Wednesday
Aug142013

Jackie's Fifth Amendment to Close September 14th

It was only a few years ago when Park Slope had no lack of what you might call "old man bars," older drinking establishments that predate a time when anyone might have even considered bringing their toddler to one, that opened early and served no-frills drinks to no-frills people in a no-frills room. There was the great O'Connors, Timboo's, Smith's, Old Carriage Inn, Mooney's, and Jackie's Fifth Amendment, bars where time seemed to stand still and the regulars all knew each other's names. O'Connor's, Timboo's, and Mooney's are all gone or have been transformed into different bars, and it's been announced that Jackie's will be the next to go, on September 14th.

Jackie's has been a bar since most likely the 1940s, when it was called Costello's. During the 60s and 70s it was called Tyson's Tavern, then briefly called His & Hers. In the 1980s it was sold back to the previous owner's daughter, Jackie Costello, and she named it "Fifth Amendment" because nobody was required to give their last name or let whatever happened in the bar leave the bar, according to bartender Linda. Jackie was a beloved neighborhood fixture for many years, and could always be counted on to serve a free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to her more down-on-their luck patrons (this was a time when there were a lot more SROs in the neighborhood when there are today, needless to say).

Jackie Costello

After Jackie passed away in 2005, her husband, Harold, took over the bar with his friend Sammy. According to bartender Becky (who famously attempted to secede the bar from Park Slope last year), Harold, who's now pushing 70, has decided to retire and, according to Brooklyn Magazine, has sold the bar to the pharmacy next door, who will presumably expand into the corner space.

Drinking at a bar like Jackie's (or O'Connor's, or even McSorley's, for that matter) is a rather different experience from drinking at a modern bar, especially during the daylight hours and on a weekday. I'd recommend you drop into Jackie's at some point before it closes, to overhear regulars chatting, take in the stuccoed ceiling, padded bar, wood-paneled walls, long-unused back room, jukebox, and no-nonsense attitude, and pay respects to a dying breed.

Thursday
Aug082013

Big Changes at Pork Slope

Pork Slope has changed in some not-so-subtle ways since it first opened almost exactly a year ago: the menu has expanded to include burritos and jettisoned unpopular items like the Chicago dog and country ham, prices have gone up a bit, and table service has replaced the awkward "order at the back" system. But within the past week they've made some of the first real physical changes to the space: the pool table has been replaced with extra seating, video games have been brought in, the giant Pabst sign has been moved, and an alcoholic slushie machine has been added to the mix.

The back area used to be dominated by a pool table, which would often remain unused while diners clamored for somewhere to sit (and would serve as a gathering place for kids). By getting rid of the pool table, they've created room for more than 20 additional diners, and to satisfy those who still need something to play a Big Buck Hunter and an arcade game table with a handful of old-school video games have been added to the mix. Additionally, the giant Pabst sign that dominated the back room along with the pool table has also been moved to the less-visible right wall.

The board that used to display the menu has also been cleared, and has been converted into a calendar. Weekly events already include a crab boil every Wednesday until the end of the summer, Burger & The Beast Mondays (where $10 gets you a burger, a side, and a can of beer), and bingo every Sunday.

Finally, a slushie machine has been added to the bar, but this isn't your average margarita maker: it's from the popular truck Kelvin Natural Slush Company, and serves up an addictive Arnold Palmer mixed with overproof rum.

Pork Slope hasn't been afraid to adapt and change as needed, and there's not much to compain about with these most recent tweaks to the formula.

Wednesday
Jul312013

Open for Business: Duke of Montrose Bar, 47 Fifth Avenue

Park Slope's newest bar, Duke of Montrose, opened last night on the corner of Fifth and Bergen, in the space vacated last June by Trade Winds Furniture. It's a full-on Scottish pub, with a giant selection of Scotch whiskys, Scottish beers, and soon, Scottish food.

Owners Michael Ferrie (from Dundee, Scotland) and Steven Owen also own Caledonia Scottish Pub on the Upper East Side and the 7 month-old Isle of Skye in Williamsburg, and the drink selection is nearly identical: a whisky menu divided into Highlands, Lowlands, Islay, Speyside, and Islands sections, boasting nearly 200 varieties like Glengarioch, Glendronach, Ledaig, Bunnahabhain, and Glenfarclas that are all but impossible to find elsewhere in the city. They start at about 8 bucks and top out at around 40. There are also brief Blended, American, and Irish ("Something for the ladies") selections.

Beers, which average six or seven dollars, include five Belhaven varieties (Lager, Ale, Stout, IPA, Twisted Thistle, and Wee Heavy), Innis & Gunn, and Old Golden Hen, also selections that you'd be hard-pressed to find on tap elsewhere. Also on the menu are cocktails that make use of those whiskys, like an Old Fashioned with Bowmore Legend ($12) and a Rob Roy with Auchentoshan Classic ($11). There are also 5 red wines by the glass ($8-13) and six white wines by the glass ($8-15).

Ferrie told me that a Happy Hour is in the works but hasn't been settled upon yet, and a menu will soon be rolled out that includes shepherd's pie, burgers, and possibly haggis. Brunch is also being planned.

It's a sleek space, with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the corner, walls and floor of black stone, and a ceiling of light wood slats artfully arranged into a unique design. There are 15 seats at the bar, an additional 15 window seats, and additional seating for about 10 (but something tells me that this number will increase). There's a small upstairs loft overlooking the room that seats about 10 (and can double as a great VIP area, should the need arise), and a bi-level basement that will soon be home to a whisky library and private party room.

They'll be open from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. during the week, and from noon to 4 during the weekend.

Something tells me that this bar will have no trouble pulling in the crowds. Its proximity to the arena and prime location on the avenue will keep it full on event nights, its unique selection of drinks and stylish layout helps to differentiate it from other bars in the area, and its overall approach, knowledgeable staff, and unpretentious vibe will most likely make it a regular hangout for locals as well.

Duke of Montrose, 47 5th Avenue brooklyn NY 11217. 212-879-0402.

Thursday
Jul252013

Seventh Avenue's Bar 4 To Close August 15th

Bar 4, one of the only full-on bars on all of Seventh Avenue, will be closing after 14 years on the corner of 15th Street on August 15th, according to a post on their website.

the bar opened back in 1999, when Seventh Avenue was a bit more ragtag than it is now, to say the least. The bar was best known for its live music, which isn't a real moneymaker thee days. That said, it was a good spot for local musicians to showcase their talents, and with its couches it had a low-key vibe that resembled that of a coffee shop more than a bar, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

With its closing, Seventh Avenue is now left with only the Old Carriage Inn, which could use a visit from the Bar Rescue crew, as its only full-scale bar. Meanwhile, Fifth Avenue is chock full of just about every type of bar you can imagine. No reason for the closure is given, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has to do with people just not associating Seventh Avenue with a place to barhop, and the fact that it opens at 6 PM every day (even weekends) and is cash-only certainly didn't work in its favor. It did foster a community, though, and had plenty of regulars.

Photo via Uplup