If you’ve been awake for the past 48 hours or so, you’re probably well aware that it is, in fact, the month of July which means some of you, dearest readers, may be wondering, “Where the hell is that floating barge bar you promised me?” Rest assured, the Brooklyn Barge Bar is not lost at sea — rather she’s docked and nearly ready for seafaring (we jest, the barge itself will remain at the landing, historic boats and scuba excursions will do the launching). “It looks like it’s far from being finished, but it’s actually really close,” owner Will Drawbridge explained. “There’s some final bits of paperwork to do and then we’ll be done.”
Drawbridge– who’s actually a floating bar aficionado of sorts based on his nearly 20 years experience working at the Frying Pan in Chelsea– has predicted the place to be open since May. But things were looking for-realsy when we stopped by this morning. The picnic tables were arranged, the 30-by-90 foot barge was rocking in the wake of a ferry, and the grills appeared ready for lighting. Drawbridge even popped open those enormous umbrellas for us. What a gent.
It’s probably self-evident, but the place has fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline and whatever else is going on in the East River as well as the closest thing to a fresh sea breeze you’ll get around these parts. Add on the gentle sloshing of the East River and the slight rock of the barge and we imagine the whole experience could be quite soothing.
“We’re actually a little concerned because we got these sling-back chairs and we were trying them out,” Drawbridge recounted. “We’d been working for two days straight and the three of us sat down there and fell asleep almost immediately, we were like, ‘Okay, these might be a little too comfortable.”
Then again, we’re guessing this place will be packed come opening day. Well, as long as people can find it. Unless you’re looking over from adjacent Transmitter Park, Barge Bar isn’t exactly something you can just stumble on. It’s difficult to find if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, which is where Milton Street continues down an alley dominated by signs for Hollywood Stunts NYC. Push past the inquiring eyes and the marble and granite warehouse, beyond a chain-link fence, and you’ll find her– the majestic, charmingly rusty barge.
“The bar itself will be located on the barge,” Drawbridge explained. “So people will go up there and order their food and drinks, the kayaks will launch off one side of the barge, there will be fishing at the head of the barge, the historic vessels will go up next to the barge, and the diving school will be on the other side of the barge.”
String lights will illuminate the vessel at night, making this place perfect for jealousy-inducing Instagram photos. “It’ll be low-density lighting, though,” Drawbridge assured us. “So we don’t obscure the view.”
Unfortunately, the captain of this barge was reluctant to give us a precise opening date–”sometime in the next couple of weeks,” is all we got out of him– but we decided that in light of all the fun stuff set to go down here, it’ll be well worth the wait. Besides scuba school sessions and historical boat tours (including one led by the captain of a retired FDNY fire boat), visitors will be able to access kayaks and paddle boats.
The good people at Brooklyn Barge Bar will also lead fishing clinics each morning. You heard right. Fishing. In the East River. Here’s to hoping they’ll be practicing catch-and-release as opposed to gut-it-and-feast.
Sure, activities are great but what we really care about is the drinking and feasting. But don’t expect any shrubs or foams. “We’re not a mixology kind of place,” Drawbridge explained. “It’s a little more down and dirty than that.”Nonetheless, Barge Bar has a boatload of drinks lined up including $7 bottles and pints of draft beer, $23 pitchers, $8 well drinks, wine for $9 a glass. And despite the emphasis on no-frills boozing, Barge Bar will offer four special cocktails including Rum Punch and the Greenpoint Mule (silver tequila, ginger beer, lime).
There’s also an on-site kitchen, though lucky for seasick-prone cooks, it’ll be on land. Patrons will be able to munch on some classic bar and BBQ food– french fries, corn on the cob, wings, hot dogs, burgers, grilled meats and fishes – simple stuff, to be sure. But for all you freaks out there, Barge Bar is offering stuff like kale salad and a falafel burger. Check out the full food and drink menu here.