Monthly Archives: April 2011's review of six outdoor drinking spots

With the weather (finally!) warming up in New York City, it’s time to take a look at some of the better outdoor drinking spots around town.  Today, I will look at spots where being outdoors is the primary draw.  Rooftop bars will not be included in this post.  I will write about them in a forthcoming entry.

Stone Street, Financial District, Manhattan: As someone once told me, “Stone Street is a little slice of Paris, right here in downtown Manhattan.”  There are nearly ten bars and restaurants along a one block, cobblestoned-paved section of Stone Street, tucked away amidst the canyons of Wall Street.  From April 1 through November 30, all the Stone Street establishments offer outdoor seating for food and drink.  It’s a great place to spend a few hours after work with colleagues or enjoy the afternoon sun on a weekend during brunch time.  Outdoor seating is available until 11pm every night.

Water Taxi Beach Bar, South Street Seaport, Manhattan: Located on the Northeast corner of Pier 17, this is the second location of the Water Taxi Beach empire (their original location is situated in Long Island City, Queens).  There are picnic tables and plenty of standing room on actual imported beach sand.  A limited beer and food menu awaits patrons.  The view north of the three bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg) is breathtaking.  You can also admire Brooklyn Heights to the east.  One word of caution, this place has been known to charge a cover fee for entrance on certain nights.

Chelsea Brewing Company, Chelsea Piers, Manhattan:  Sit outside by the docked boats to enjoy the sunset.  Or, during a sunny afternoon, watch the boats go by on the Hudson River.  The Chelsea Brewing Company is the only brewery in Manhattan and offers good food at reasonable prices.

Bohemian Hall Beer Garden, Astoria, Queens:  This is one of the largest outdoor drinking spots in the five boroughs.  Dating back to 1910, Bohemian Hall is the last of the original Beer Gardens in New York City.  Find a spot at one of the dozens of communal tables in their outdoor area and get ready make new friends!  For beer, enjoy a mix of imports from Central Europe or local craft brews.  If you get hungry, there is an outdoor grill menu featuring a few types of sausages, burgers and other grill fare.  Everyone must go here at least once!

Studio Square, Astoria, Queens:  Not quite “down the street”, but in the same section of Queens as Bohemian Hall, Studio Square is a newcomer to the Beer Garden scene.  Opening in the spring of 2009, Studio Square has nearly two dozen beers on tap.  The food menu consists of sausages, burgers and some other good accompaniments to beer.  The outdoor area is sizeable, almost the same size as Bohemian Hall’s.  Make a stop here before or after you visit Bohemian Hall.

Loreley, Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Located just north of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, this is the second location for Loreley (their first is the one in the Lower East Side of Manhattan).  Small in size compared to Bohemian Hall or Studio Square, Loreley has a cozy outdoor area with about 15 communal tables.  Beers on tap number a dozen, nearly all are imported from Germany.  The food menu is fairly extensive, focusing on German fare.

Tell me what you think about these six spots!  What are your favorite outdoor establishments?  Please leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you.'s visit to the Kelso Brewery

I recently visited the Kelso brewery for a tour.  Kelso, which started brewing in 2006 in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, opened its doors to the public for tours on Saturday, April 16.  The brewery is located at 529 Waverly Avenue, on an industrial block about half-way between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue. Look for the Heartland Brewery sign above the entrance (Quick aside: Kelso is a subsidiary of Greenpoint Beer Works, which has been brewing all the beer for Heartland Brewery’s five Manhattan locations for over a decade. The owners of Greenpoint Beer Works decided to brew their own beer as well, starting in 2006. Kelso is an acronym of the husband and wife team that owns Greenpoint Beer Works, Kelly and Sonia).

To enter the brewery, you must open a windowless door and, after you enter the foyer, make an immediate left. You will find yourself in the brewery. It feels as though you are in an oversized four story garage, but you will know you are in the right place because you will see the aging tanks on the back, left side of the room. The tasting area is on the right side of the room, near the mash tank. In between the mash tank and the aging tanks is the parking spot for the delivery truck that takes the Heartland beer from Clinton Hill into Manhattan (the Kelso beer gets picked up by Manhattan Beer Distributors). The tasting area is made up of a bar with three taps and some chairs and a few tables.  The beers available to sample during my visit were the India Pale Ale, the Nut Brown Lager and a Bock.

Jess the tour guide and bartender was a fantastic and knowledgeable host. The tour began in the tasting area, where, after we had a sample or two, Jess started by telling us a bit about the company and how Kelso came to be. The next part of the tour was the explanation of the brewing process. For those who have already been on a brewery tour, this part is universal to all brewery tours. For those who have not been on a brewery tour, I will not get into the details of the brewing process here (a somewhat detailed description here). After the brewing process is explained, Jess took everyone into the refrigerated kegging room (at the back of the brewery, behind the delivery truck’s parking spot), where dozens of full kegs, both for Heartland and Kelso, were awaiting delivery. Once the keg room visit was over, it was back to the tasting area! We had a few more samples (all samples were free of charge; 64 oz. growlers also available for sale) and then it was closing time.

Tours are conducted every Saturday, one at 2pm and one at 4pm. The place closes around 5:30pm. Take the C train to the Clinton-Washington stop and after exiting on to Fulton Street, head to Waverly Avenue, which runs parallel to Clinton Avenue and Washington Avenue (Waverly is one block east of Clinton and one block west of Washington). For those who are interested in visiting a small brewery and sampling some great beer, I highly recommend a trip to Clinton Hill and visiting Kelso!'s review of Murray Hill Bar Golf

I got to check out the Murray Hill Bar Golf event on Saturday, 4/16. Since I have not done many other bar golf events, I can’t say how similar or different Murray Hill’s bar golf is from other such events. For me, I found it to be a slightly different take on your typical pub crawl in NYC. The event runs weekly every Saturday from 6pm until 10pm (though I got a late start at around 8:45pm, playing only three holes). The event consists of nine holes: three separate visits to three venues: Joshua Tree, Bar XII and Mercury Bar. The three bars are very close together, all located within half a block of the intersection of 34th Street and 3rd Avenue on Manhattan’s east side. Scoring is as follows: Bogeys generally consist of non-alcoholic drinks; Par is typically one beer; Birdies and Eagles are typically beer/shot or another type of drink combo equaling two units of alcohol. I am not aware if the scoring system will change weekly or at all.

This event could be a lot of fun with a group of people who like to consume different types of alcohol over a relatively short time period. If you plan to participate for most or all of the four hour time period, I highly suggest eating something substantial beforehand. The highest scorer is awarded $500 the last Saturday of each month. Though it is unclear if this award is given to the highest scorer that day or for the entire month. As the weather gets warmer, this will be a fun event to get your friends out, explore some of Murray Hill and make new friends!

NYC Circle line pub crawl

An interesting article I came across concerning the Circle Line pub crawl in London:

The pub crawl is a unique (and sometimes, painful) experience and in London, it doesn’t get more unique than the Circle Line Pub Crawl. I heard about the Circle Line Pub Crawl (CLPC) when I first arrived in London more than a year ago. The thought of it was absolutely insane. For the uninitiated, the Circle line (in yellow) is part of the London Underground network (or the tube). It runs in a ring around the city, and has 27 stations.

The idea is pretty simple, if a little insane. Start at a station on the Circle line, say Tower Hill, and find a place to have a drink. Get on the tube on the Circle Line and disembark at each station, find a pub to drink in, completing the circle and finishing in the pub you started in for your final drink, in less than 12 hours.

There are a few rules; you have to drink something at each pub. You don’t have to drink beer, and you don’t have to drink pints. But you do have to drink something with alcohol in it (defeats the purpose of the pub crawl if you drink coke or water). You have to find a place to drink, even if it’s an off license or a wine shop.

Going by strict pub crawling guidelines, and drinking a pint at every stop, you’ll be consuming 28 pints (about 16 litres) of the fermented stuff in less than 12 hours. That’s a lot by anyone’s standards. I have entertained the thought of giving it a go but I wasn’t able to find anyone mad enough to do it with me. Navigating London’s underground network while drunk isn’t exactly the smartest thing to do.

So, if you’re ever in London, and want a unique London experience that you will not get from any guidebook, try the Circle Line Pub Crawl. Just don’t blame me for it. 🙂

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My comments:

That’s quite a pub crawl!  The New York City subway system does not have anything like a line similar to London’s Circle line.  But, using four different subway lines in Manhattan (including the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle line), you can have a ‘NYC Circle line’ pub crawl of sorts.  Start at 42nd and 8th Avenue and board the C/E train southbound stopping at Penn Station, 23rd and 14th street.  At 14th street, transfer to the L train and ride east, stopping at 6th Avenue and Union Square.  At Union square, transfer to the uptown 6 train and stop at 23rd, 28th, 33rd and Grand Central, where you complete the loop by riding the shuttle to Times Square.  In all, if you visited one drinking establishment per subway stop, this ‘NYC Circle line’ pub crawl would bring you to ten spots.  A challenge? Definitely!  But much more doable than the complete London version.  Thoughts?  Please share your comments.  I look forward to hearing from you!

New Beer Garden coming to Williamsburg!

Spritzenhaus at 33 Nassau Ave.

I am very excited about the announcement of Spritzenhaus!  Yet another Beer Garden for the North Williamsburg/Greenpoint area.  This would make the fourth beer garden for Williamsburg (the others are Loreley, Radegast and Berry Park).  So, there is definitely a Williamsburg Beer Garden bar crawl in the works here.  Even though these four places are not quite the size of the two beer gardens in Astoria (Studio Square and Bohemian Hall), the Williamsburg four promise to be fun spots for the Spring/Summer and beyond!  Please check this space soon for a review of Spritzenhaus.

On Manhattan neighborhoods


Appreciate neighborhoods
New Yorkers think of their neighborhood as their village. Think like they do, and try to be aware of which neighborhood you are visiting. For example, Chelsea is a neighborhood. So is the “Far West Village.” Or Soho. Or Tribeca. Or Murray Hill. Or Chinatown. Or Little Italy. Each neighborhood is unique – there is no other place quite like it on earth. You will rarely see chain stores – neighborhood butchers, bakers, fish mongers, stationers are usually local merchants with quirky offerings, and long loval histories. (With the notable exception of Starbucks.)

My comments:

I very much agree with this sentiment.  And the best way to learn about the neighborhoods of Manhattan is to do a pub crawl in each one!