On today’s Brooklyn streets, a bar is born every minute. To help navigate this ever-widening sea of suds, I’ve developed a checklist that outlines all the qualities necessary for a joint to be considered not just a good, but a great neighborhood bar.
– A relaxed, no pressure atmosphere. I’ll pass on the fancy shots and bottle service in favor of comfy booths, mellow tunes and toned down décor.
– A solid draft list. I’m talking quality over quantity here – I’d much rather see 10 creatively curated, diverse selections than 50 big name hop bombs of questionable freshness. Any. Day.
– This ones the trickiest: quiet enough for an afternoon read solo, but lively enough to avoid a library vibe. Basically, I need a place to sit, unbothered, to write for a few afternoon hours. Later, I’d like the ability to get mildly rowdy with some buddies… without venturing back outside.
Quiet and busy, friendly and anonymous – a truly perfect neighborhood bar should the best of both worlds. Big bonus points for a five-block proximity to my house, free WiFi, thoughtful TV placement, a big backyard and snacks.
Most local bars will satisfy a couple of these needs, but very few accomplish all. That’s why Nostrand Avenue Pub is special. Occupying an unassuming a storefront in Crown Heights, this little beer bar feels both old and new, with a custom shelving unit lined with antique beer trays, enormous wooden booths hugging the thick walls and intimate window seating for OkCupid dates gone right. The 20 taps rotate through a diverse array of domestic and Euro mostly-craft brews that can please just about any palate. Want to get wild? Select from the impressive whiskey list and make it a happy meal. The big wraparound bar hosts longtime locals and gentrifying newcomers alike, and the bartenders at the helm are deft and personable. A corner flat screen shows sports and the like, a nice distraction on chilly afternoons when it’s too brisk to enjoy the ample backyard. Snack choices are slim, but chips and jerky should tide you over until pizza o’clock.
Check, check, check. Honey, I’m home.
Nostrand Avenue Pub is located at 658 Nostrand Ave., in Brooklyn. Closest subways are the A and C at Nostrand Avenue to the north, and the 3 train at Nostrand Avenue to the south.