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Entries in Bars (155)

Wednesday
Feb192014

The New O'Connor's Finally Revealed

One year and eight months since it closed, the newest incarnation of beloved classic dive bar O'Connor's, on Fifth between Bergen and Dean, has been revealed. If you were a fan of its old-school throwback scrappiness, avert your eyes:

The new facade has been revealed, and it looks like just about every other standard Irish pub in the city. An improvement over the previous sparse black-panted brick? Sure. Anything special? Not really.

As for the interior, the folks at the Brooklyn Eagle got a look last week (above). All traces of its past have been scrubbed clean, and even the 80 year-old antique bar and back bar have been needlessly banished to the junk heap. The new bar is a plain slab of walnut, with some knee-scraping stone underneath. It's hard to tell, but by the direction of the sunlight it looks like the bar has also been moved to the other side of the room.

There are also "some walls with walnut paneling, others with newly exposed brick, a stone fireplace and leather upholstered banquettes," according to the newspaper, as well as a big room in the back, and a second floor where they'll host "small weddings, First Communion and christening parties." No sign of the antique phone booth owner Mike McMahon removed and promised me he would return.

There's a kitchen, and food including corned beef and cabbage will be on offer. A name change is also in store; when it opens it'll no longer be called O'Connor's, which is probably for the better.

Park Slope needs an Irish pub.... We want a place you can bring your mother, your grandmother, and the kids,” owner Mike McMahon said, without a trace of irony.

RIP

Wednesday
Feb052014

Open for Business: Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue

The first new bar to open on Seventh Avenue north of Ninth Street in years opened late last month between 3rd and 4th Streets, nearly two years since news first broke that a bar was heading for the space and about three years since City Casuals, the clothing shop it's replacing, closed.

The new bar, called Parish, is run by the husband-and-wife duo of Lisanne Mackenzie and her husband Chris (Lisanne is actually the daughter of City Casuals owner Esther Levitt). It's clear that they've put a ton of work into this space, and it's quite attractive. There's a big window up front, revealing a 12-seat bar made from two pieces of Southern black walnut, a spacious back lounge area with a high-tech projector system, and a big back patio that's going to double in size come springtime. All the colors are muted earth tones, and there's more decorative walnut on the ceiling. And as a very nice touch, the bar underside has not only coat hooks, but plugs. There are also two flat-screen TVs above the bar.

You can certainly call it a cocktail lounge, but there's an impressive selection of beer and wine as well. Cocktails use all fresh-squeezed juices and are $11 (which is on the low end these days), and include the Parish Cocktail (Tanqueray, lemon juice, fresh apples, grapes, and mint); Brooklyn on the Bayou (Makers Mark, Hennessy, absinthe, sugar, and bitters); and the Violette Bramble (Beefeater gin, creme de violette, bramble jam, and lemon juice). All well drinks are made with good-quality booze (Tito's vodka, for example), and cost $8. Here's the beer list:

Also quite reasonable; there's also a nice selection of wines by the glass, and several available on tap.

There's a tiny kitchen area just beyond the bar, so any food that comes out of it will probably be quite simple. At the moment there's a nice-looking charcuterie plate that they've been giving away to customers free of charge, and sandwiches are in the works.

It'll open at noon on the weekends and stay open until 2 or 3, and during the week it'll open at 4 and close at 1.There are no current plans for a happy hour.

This bar is about as mature as it gets, but also knows that its audience might also want to drop in to watch a big game. You can stop in and pay $11 for a craft cocktail or you can pay $6 for a Lagunitas IPA from a rotating tap list. You can sit at the bar and watch the Knicks; you can sit in the back or the patio and have a romantic nightcap with a cheese plate and a glass of wine. It's not trying to be all things to all people, it just lets you decide what kind of bar you want it to be. And while it's not exactly cozy, it's classy, welcoming, and unpretentious.

Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215.

Wednesday
Dec182013

O'Connor's Constuction is Actually Progressing; Facade Revealed

In the year and a half since O'Connor's, on Fifth between Bergen and Dean, closed for renovations. The classic dive bar hadn't changed much in its 81 years of existence, which unfortunately worked to its disadvantage: it wasn't nearly up to code, and an attempt to construct a basement resulted in the collapse of the back wall. So owner Mike Maher shut it down, started the renovation, and apparently promptly ran out of money, and the space has seemingly been lying dormant since.

Signs of life are actually happening, however; many thanks to a tipster for sending in the above photo, which looks like the beginning of a reveal of the facade (that sidewalk shed was quite an eyesore). It looks pretty traditional, similar to 200 5th's, with lots of windows and not a trace of the old brick front. 

For fans of the old O'Connor's, it would be best to expect that the new one is going to look completely different from what we were used to.

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.