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Know Your Bartender: Tiffany Tobin, Park Slope Ale House

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Park Slope Ale House has been a bar for much longer than 18 years. When Eugene Kaleniak purchased the building in 1992, the ground floor was occupied by a bodega, and and shady one at that (it's fairly accepted that drugs were sold out of it and that cockfights were held in the back room). Kaleniak and his brother-in-law, homebrewer Shane Welch, gutted the space and installed antique bar fixtures and old-school belt-driven ceiling fans, and The Park Slope Brewing Company was born. Welch brewed his beer in the basement and sold it up front. 

In the late 90s Welch and Kaleniak went their separate ways, leaving Kaleniak in charge of the bar, which he renamed the Park Slope Ale House. He also opened up a sister bar in Brooklyn Heights, called the Henry Street Ale House. Welch perfected his beer recipe and struck out on his own, teaming with business partner Andrew Bronstein and opening a little brewery in Red Hook that you might have heard of: Sixpoint Craft Ales.

Today, the Park Slope Ale House is a cozy, family-friendly neighborhood pub with decent food, and it never gets too crowded owing to the fact that its location, Sixth Avenue and Fifth Street, is so off the beaten path. Last month, the back room was converted from a prep kitchen into a separate dining/party room, and just like the rest of the bar, you'd never suspect that it had ever been anything else. 

Tiffany Tobin can be found behind the bar Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and splits her time between this bar and MacMenamin's Irish Pub at the South Street Seaport. 

HPS: How long have you been bartending here for?

Tiffany: Three years.

HPS: What's your favorite thing about this bar?

Tiffany: Because it's so neighborhood-oriented and my other job is really touristy, my favorite thing is just the fact that you can get to know most of the customers here. The beer is really good here, too, we have 20 taps. There's a great variety, so anybody can find something that they like. And they're not necessarily the same beers that every bar has. 

HPS: Can you talk a little bit about the Happy Hour?

Tiffany: The Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 4-7 at the bar only, and it's 50 cent wings and a dollar off any drink: beer, wine, or liquor. On Tuesday it's all night, from 4-close, and it's the same at the tables too. 

HPS: What's the strangest drink order you've ever received here?

Tiffany: Well, there's a regular, and he gets an apple martini with olives. But he's a very nice gentleman! It's a strange request, though. 

HPS: If you could have a drink with one person from history, who would it be? 

Tiffany: It might have to be Charles Bukowski. If you were going to have a drinking session with anybody, that'd probably be the person to drink with.

HPS: Are there any cocktails that you make that you pride yourself on?

Tiffany: We have a couple here that we like. The pink lemonade, which is citrus vodka with Sprite, a splash of cranberry and real lemon juice. We also have a really popular drink, I call it the Jack-arita, but all the other bartenders call it the Lynchburg Lemonade. We use Jack Daniels instead of tequila and Southern Comfort instead of triple sec, and then we mix it with our regular margarita mix, which is Sprite and key lime juice. We also have really good drink specials during the winter, like hot mulled cider with cinnamon-spiced rum that we make ourselves. 

HPS: Which drink is made the most frequently here?

Tiffany: Well on Monday we have a margarita special, so that's a popular one. The Old Fashioned's become really popular because of that TV show. We do a lot of Jameson on the rocks too. For the post part people get beer, though. Beer and wine. 

HPS: What bottle would you say is poured from the least frequently?

Tiffany: Amaretto, probably. Drambuie. The Galliano is here basically just for decoration. We have a pretty small liquor collection so we use just about everything else though.

HPS: If you weren't tending bar, what other profession would you like to have?

Tiffany: Writing. I'd be a novelist.

Park Slope Ale House, 356 Sixth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-788-1756.


Then & Now Thursday: Sixth Avenue Baptist Church

This quaint brick-and-limestone church on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Lincoln Place was built in 1880, just as the neighborhood was starting to come into its own. Its most distinctive feature by far was its massive steeple, and by the time the above photo was taken in 1904, vines had taken over the facade. 

Notice a difference? The steeple's gone! Where'd it go, you might be wondering? Lost to the ages in the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which wreaked havoc all along the eastern seaboard. Even though The City only received a glancing blow, the 100 mph winds caused the East River to flow three blocks inward, knocked out all the city's electricity, made the Empire State Building sway wildly, and knocked the steeple off of the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. Thankfully the damage was cleaned up quickly, no one was injured, and the massive Odell Organ inside was unharmed.


Open for Business: Food Lin, 399 Fifth Avenue

The Chinese restaurant whose signage was revealed last week officially opened for business yesterday, in the space formerly occupied by the Botanica San Miguel, on Fifth between Sixth and Seventh. The interior is surprisingly roomy, with some traditional Chinese touches like bamboo. The menu? Exactly what you'd expect.


Happy Hannukah!

Mayor Bloomberg lights the menorah
The Festival of Lights' first night is tonight, and Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz and members of the community gathered in Grand Army Plaza at 5:30 this evening to light the borough's biggest menorah. Bloomberg gave some little toys to the kids, jelly donuts and potato latkes were handed out, and awesomely cheesy music was played. An ideal way to get into the Hannukah spirit, if I do say so myself.
The always-jovial Marty Markowitz


Prime 6 Gets A Rendering

Prime 6, the bar/lounge/restaurant for Barclays Arena patrons going into the space formerly occupied by Royal Video on Sixth and Flatbush, has released a rendering of what the finished product will look like. Thanks to Brownstoner for the image.

Looks like the facade will be brick (or faux-stone, more likely), with hanging lamps and large doors that open up to the avenue. Not nearly as gaudy as the name/ former website would suggest. Construction has seemed to stall on this project recently, so it's anyone's guess when this place will actually open, even though they say it'll be ready to go within a month or two.