On the G train to Nassau Avenue, a guy in a backwards baseball cap and a “Most Dope” t-shirt tells his friends, dressed in button-downs and popped collars, that their stop is next.
“I love Brooklyn!” he yells, getting off the train.
Their destination is Berry Park, where on the rooftop strung with Christmas lights there’s a view of the invisible line dividing Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
The night scene around Berry Park doesn’t exactly fit with either of those neighborhoods. In fact, it’s much closer to a certain neighborhood in Manhattan.
“My cousin lives in Murray Hill,” said Leila, 27, who has lived in Greenpoint for five years. “When I walk down Berry, I feel like I’m visiting her.”
You might call the area Berry Hill.
A map of Berry Hill would show the six blocks from North 11th to Guernsey Street, with pinpoints for Spritzenhaus, Berry Park, The Whiskey Brooklyn, and Brooklyn Brewery. Some resemble Murray Hill’s sports bars and pick-up joints more closely than others: Spritzenhaus seems to mostly maintain its neighborhood roots, but among those outfitted by Urban Outfitters are guys like 26-year-old Evan McNeil, who works in the financial district. After a few nights out at Spitzer’s Corner on the Lower East Side, he decided to tuck a polo into his khakis and check out its sister bar in Greenpoint.
Reviews on Yelp bolster the idea that Spritzenhaus is set apart from its neighborhood. One Yelper describes the beer hall’s location as “the Northern tip of New Hoboken” (one of three reviews that invoke Hoboken); another reviewer, from Queens, likes that it’s off the G, and “not too far into Hipsterville Adjacent for me.”
Brooklyn Brewery, too, gathers a more diverse clientele, but it’s clearly a leg of the Berry Hill bar crawl. “Not as hipster as I thought it would be!” carps one Yelp reviewer from Manhattan who freely admits that “it’s generally against my best interest to ride Brooklyn-bound trains.”
Then there’s Berry Park. On weekends, it’s taken over by “people who are coming here from the city to make a thing out of it,” according to a manager who didn’t want to be named.
Take the group of Equinox trainers who either came directly from work or just really like wearing muscle tees. Asked why they’ve chosen the bar, Angelo, 26, from Greenwich Village, points to his friend Tony: “He lives here.”
Tony corrects him: “I live in DUMBO.”
Parker Lynch, a 30-year-old teacher from the East Village who is wearing salmon-colored shorts and clutching a Bud Light, also calls this his Brooklyn spot. “It’s just so easy to get to,” he explains. “I don’t know much about Brooklyn, so I just get off the train and start exploring. Expanding my horizons, you know?”
Julia Pasternak, another East Village resident, who could easily blend in as a Williamsburg local, says this is where she goes “when people from Manhattan ask me to come to Brooklyn.” She pauses a moment. “I think they like that Berry Park takes credit cards.”
These bridge-and-tunnel visitors aren’t exactly “poser hipsters,” as DNA Info dubbed Williamsburg’s new crop of weekend warriors. Andy Campbell, a Greenpoint resident who covered North Brooklyn for The Brooklyn Paper, opts for another term entirely: he describes The Whiskey Brooklyn as “douche central.”
That particular invective pops up repeatedly in the bar’s Yelp reviews, as do various forms of “bros” and “frat boys.” One Yelper describes it as “a bro spot in the middle of hipster central.”
“Finally,” writes one reviewer, “after the hipsters come the frat boys to seek out this ‘new hip neighborhood’ with ‘great views of Manahattan.’ Man-cave bars like The Whiskey open to accommodate the masses and the rest is history.”
Milly Tamerez, a South Williamsburg resident, came to Whiskey Brooklyn with a visiting friend who wanted to check out the Brooklyn sister bar — or “brother bar,” as the website puts it — of Whiskey Town in the East Village. She looks on at the multiple games of skee ball and TVs playing the same soccer game that was on earlier at Berry Park. A 27-year-old man clambers up the side of the Hoop Fever machine to ensure his friend scores a basket. “This bar is more mainstream,” Tamerez sighs. “Like a douchey Midtown bro bar.”
Joel, the manager of Whiskey Brooklyn, believes some in the “fratty, bridge-and-tunnel” crowd are actually locals. “They come on the weekends,” he says, “but I think they are starting to move here now.”
The 15-year Williamsburg resident lives near others who have been in the area even longer. “My neighbors are all the old Italian and Spanish people. As they are moved to homes or, well, die, their houses are bought up by these guys,” he says, gesturing to the room as a dude wearing sunglasses on top of his baseball cap walks by. “The area is definitely changing.”
On her way from Whiskey Brooklyn to Brooklyn Brewery with some friends from Manhattan, 22-year-old Bushwick resident Smyth notes the especially recent influx of “a lot more collared shirts.” “This is the time of year graduates from East Coast schools are trickling down to New York,” she says. “They have the money to live in Manhattan but come to Williamsburg to go out in this area.”
Smyth is thankful that this particular patch of Williamsburg-Greenpoint is distinct from her neighborhood. “They probably wouldn’t venture to Bushwick to go out to some of my local spots, because it’s too out of the way and not cool enough, perhaps.”
But the “collared shirts,” as she calls them, are hardly confined to Berry Hill. Sheldon Nathaniel, 30, an IT specialist for Baked by Melissa, has noticed changes at Bushwick Country Club, the alleged inventor of the pickle back shot (now served at Whiskey Brooklyn as well). “I used to be a country club member, but now there’s a lot of bros, and a lot of trustafarians,” he says.
Jennifer Hutzel, 26, a Greenpoint resident who works at the YMCA, mentions waiting in line for Union Pool with a group of guys that were “obviously not from the area.” “They were trying to get bottle service!” she exclaims.
It should be mentioned that Berry Hill also serves as a destination for non-local Brooklynites who clash with the Williamsburg cliche for entirely different reasons. At Brooklyn Brewery on a recent Friday night, a group of guys clad in pastel ties were blowing off steam after a long day at clerkships in Crown Heights. “There’s nothing to do in Bed Stuy,” says Shayan Z., 22.
“There is nothing to do in the whole middle part of the borough,” his friend, Rama S., 27, laughs.
As Nick Robins-Early, 24, who lives above Whiskey Brooklyn, said of his chunk of Berry Hill, “This is where people come when they go to Brooklyn.”