News that SantaCon is kicking off in Williamsburg this Saturday and then heading to the East Village is sure to terrify those who loathe the invasion of sloshed Santa dilettantes struggling to keep their red pants up. But Brooklyn-based band Vassals didn’t let the annual shitshow discourage them from creating what is arguably this year’s best Christmas album, Here We Come a Vassaling. Our recommendation? Give er a whirl on the ol’ iPhone this weekend while you’re fighting your way through the wave of humanity (or something barely resembling it).
It couldn’t have been a more perfect night for stopping into The Bad Old Days, or maybe there’s no better bar for a rainy night. Either way, immediately after walking into this brand new bar in Ridgewood I felt like I was in some kind of geothermal beer womb. Warmth radiates up from the wooden floorboards and out of the living room lamps, and half-curtains hug the tall windows, shielding boozers from the depressing weather outside. If you need a new winter bar, here’s a stellar contender.
Lions Beerstore—an all-in-one gastropub, retail store, and self-described beer consultancy—will open Monday in Spice’s former home at Second Avenue and East Sixth Street.
How many times have you had to warn your visiting friends to stay far, far away from Radegast Hall & Biergarten lest they get blasted with barf by some weekend warrior who doesn’t understand boots are made to be shared, not enema’d? Well, as of 6 p.m. tonight, you can simply dismiss Radegast as the naughty, trashy cousin of Witlof and point your pals in the direction of this new, sophisticated “Flemish brasserie.”
After reading this intriguing post about a Greenpoint-based brewery (well, in the sense that Braven Brewery is based in Bushwick, which is to say it’s operated right here in Brooklyn, but the actual brewing happens Upstate) we met up with the owner of War Flag Ales & Lagers, James McFillin, at Roebling Tea Room in Williamsburg over beers. We discussed what it takes to get a brewery operation running from hops all the way to bottled, fermented drank, his plans to build out a brewery in Brooklyn in the near future, and rumors that his company is tied to the Koch Brothers. (Hint: It’s not… and actually, James really likes Bernie Sanders.)
Taking a break from writing the Meet the Regulars book (slated to be published by Skyhorse in May 2016), I was visiting a friend in Stockholm, Sweden. As soon as I learned about Bar Brooklyn, a restaurant and bar inspired by Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery, I had to check it out.
I was in the grips of a full-on Sunday hangover, on a caffeine-addled regret-stroll through East Williamsburg, when I locked eyes with a bar I’d never seen before, The Topaz. I wondered if the name, bestowed on this cocktail and small plates establishment, might be a play on “tapas.” Perhaps. But it also betrays the spirit of the place: a glimmering but none-too-fancy oasis in an otherwise spartan stretch of the neighborhood.
It’s getting to that point in the summer where doing much of anything besides moving that lawn chair to the kiddie pool and cracking open your daily 40 seems interminably arduous. For hell’s sake, you’ve been wearing the same sweaty tank top, bucket hat, and cut-offs ensemble for, like, weeks now, dude. Pull yourself together and get to some of these combination music-food-shopping-booze-drink affairs. You’ll realize economy of movement as well as restoration of dignity.
Cinco de Mayo is probably best known as a reminder of American ignorance. Northern-dwelling Americans, including myself, are often raised to think of this Mexican national holiday as the equivalent of Independence Day in the US (it’s actually a holiday celebrating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla) and while correcting factual misunderstanding is somewhat easy, old habits die hard. That’s why we’ve thrown our good judgment out the window and made this list of great happenings on and around Cinco de Mayo.