Temperatures are finally rising (we hope this doesn’t jinx it) and the temptation to picnic or enjoy a drink in one of our beautiful parks is rising along with it. Is it legal to drink in New York City Parks? Eh…no. Does this reduce the desire to enjoy a deli sandwich paired with a frosty beer or chilled wine in the sun? Probably not. Check the end of this post for a quick overview of current NYC open container enforcement rules.
But without further ado, we present our guide to Drinking Wine in Bushwick’s Parks!
Beers are inherently portable and easy to transport & enjoy in open air, while, drinking wine outside requires a bit more effort. The payoff, however, can be worth it. A bottle of wine is shareable, flavorful, and a chance to try something new.
With the right wine, an afternoon with your friends in Bushwick can transformed into a voyage to the coast of Italy or the hills of Northern California. Before you set out, transfer your wine to an opaque container (this bottle fits an entire bottle of wine) and grab some coffee cups and snacks from the nearest bodega. Plantain chips pair well with just about anything.
To make things easier, we’ve found a few wine shops in close proximity to the area’s best parks. At any wine shop, remember, the world of wine is vast and you should feel comfortable asking for what you want, which may well be “a rooftop appropriate wine under $20.” Springtime has no room for snobs.
1. Maria Hernandez Park
The Park: A Bushwick classic and community epicenter. Pair a chilled red or pet nat with a BEC from your favorite bodega
The Shop: Henry’s Wine and Spirit (69 Central Street) focuses on low intervention wines and hosts tastings each Friday. If you want something bubbly, they have lots of pet nats, natural wines with a slight effervescent that will impress all your friends.
2. Gilbert Ramirez and Green Central Knoll
The Park: There are actually two parks close to Big Tree, Gilbert Ramirez park by the Morgan L train entrance and Green Central Knoll a few blocks south on Flushing. Both of these parks are primarily courts or fields for various sports, but they also offer ample tree-shaded sitting.
The Shop: Big Tree Bottles (43 Bogart Street) isn’t right by a park, but it’s worth including for the extremely friendly staff who won’t shame you for picking the cheapest bottle, which is always clearly marked in their $9, $10, and $11 bins. If you want to try something new, they’re supportive of that as well. For a weekend afternoon, try a chilled albariño or vinho verde. These refreshing white wines from Spain and Portugal, respectively, are affordable and unlikely to be too sweet.
3. Thomas Boyland Park and The Evergreens Cemetery
The Park: I hope you like cemeteries, because Rodse is just a block away from the entrance to The Evergreens Cemetery. The cemetery, open to the public, is technically just over the border in Cyprus Hills, but it’s a quiet, peaceful spot with lots of paths meandering under the trees. Just remember to be respectful, please. If cemeteries aren’t your thing, sit and watch a pick-up game at nearby Thomas Boyland Park.
The Shop: Rodse Wines and Liquors (1603 Bushwick Ave) is a full service wine (and liquor) store in the far southeast of Bushwick. Their selection of wines is extensive and is sure to include something for everyone and, with prices ranging from $4 to $400, for every budget.
Honorable mention: Sternberg Park
The Park: Nearby Sternberg Park is short on grass but long on swings, which are equally fun for adults. But don’t be a jerk and cut the kids in line.
The Shop: Two blocks over the East Williamsburg border in Williamsburg proper, you’ll find Montrose and Graham Wines (178 Graham Avenue). They offer tastings on Friday and Saturday nights, a punch card for loyal shoppers, and an impressive selection of natural wines. For something a little different, try the Force of Nature, an under-$20 red blend from California with great label art from local artists. It’s made in small batches and this is one of the few places that stocks it.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, so be sure to let us know about your favorite wine shops, and the best outdoor spots to enjoy the spoils of your trip, in the comments below.
And please, readers, always remember to be respectful of those using the parks for their intended, non-boozey purposes, and to clean up all your garbage before you go!
This guide is meant to help you towards the best possible Bushwick picnicking experience, not to incite any undesired police harassment. So make sure you understand the rules and always know your rights.
A brief primer on the state of NYC Open Container Enforcement:
Two years ago, City Council passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2016 which decriminalized open container violations along with a laundry list of other non-violent offenses disproportionately affecting low income and minority communities. The city administrative code still prohibits open containers in any public place, but instead of receiving a criminal summons you will now be issued a civil court summons. A civil court summons is very similar to a traffic ticket and in most cases amounts to a slap on the wrist and a $25 fine which can be paid online. We encourage you to do your best to avoid any fines by staying educated on the law, knowing your rights and respecting your surroundings.
Cover Image by Darragh Dandurand