A little further out and a quick hop to the JMZ line, and the available nightlife starts to expand beyond the typical Brooklyn dive bars. Yes, this part of Bushwick has dive bars aplenty, but there are also dance clubs, concert venues, and refined cocktail bars serving locally sourced grub. Bottom line: you can satisfy pretty much any type of nightlife craving within a five block radius.
Paying homage to the legendary Warhol-approved Greenwich Village café of the same name, Bizarre strives to capture a similar artist-friendly vibe, providing both a performance space for musicians, artists, and burlesque dancers and some serious cocktails for serious imbibers. The slightly eerie, offbeat vibe is played up by red lights that cast an unnatural glow into otherwise dark spaces, creepy day-of-the-dead dolls smiling down (or up) from their window perches, and Gothic lamps providing little in the way of illumination and a lot in the way of weird shadows. A full bar ensures your alcohol quota is taken care of, plus there’s a selection of French wine (courtesy of the two French owners) and international beers, including Left Hand Milk Stout ($6). Specialty cocktails are a bit pricey at $13, but with names like the espresso-and-tequila-based Johnny Mad Dog and a heavy pour, they’re well worth it.
What to Drink: Lose all your inhibition with an absinthe cocktail like the No. 4, a heady mix of Saint Germain, Pernod, absinthe, grapefruit and champagne ($13).
Another under-the-tracks bar slash restaurant, this warm little spot offers simple yet delicious cocktails and a menu of locally sourced eats, including salads of the day ($9) and bread from Robertas ($1). To create a warm, homey vibe, the décor combines rough wood accents, large chalkboard menus, and stylishly distressed wooden countertops and tables, plus small vases of flowers to provide bursts of color in an otherwise monotone design palette. Formerly Beauty Bar and after that (albeit briefly) Broomies, the owners renovated and gutted the space before launching Skytown, previously a long-time Smorgasburg booth. Simplicity is still key, with a cocktail list of basics like margaritas and Bloody Mary’s for just $7, or drafts like Empire Amber Ale, 21st Amendment Back in Black, and Dundee Brown Lager for $6.
What to Drink: The Late Night Reviver ($9), a mix of gin, Fernet, fresh ginger and lime.
With the latest underground DJs manning the deck and a kickass sound, this tropical-themed dance club has quickly become the spot where young (and not-so-young) Bushwickians shake and shimmy out their weeklong frustrations on the dance floor. A wilder alternative to the standard Bushwick bar scene, Bossa Nova’s off-the-beaten-path vibe belays the 1960s Miami dance club vibe and energy pulsing out as soon as you walk in the door. Revelers can get down to a mix of house and techno music while sipping on $9 tropical cocktails and $6 thirst-quenching beers. Plan on putting on your dancing shoes for the wild parties on Friday and Saturday nights, and don’t worry about the dress code or cover…there is none. Cash only.
What to Drink: Stay hydrated with a $2 cucumber juice or a $6 Pacifico.
This dark little dive bar nestled under the JMZ tracks has everything a good bar needs, from a pinball machine to heavily tattooed bartenders to regularly scheduled burlesque shows. Stylishly lit with candles, its relaxed vibe is enhanced by low-key wood benches dotting the space and a curved bartop at which you’ll find all sorts of people, from a manic-pixie-dream-girl folding origami to a 50-something local looking to take in the new neighborhood nightlife. Like its neighbor Goodbye Blue Monday, Lone Wolf offers semi-frequent concerts but with a drink list as unpretentious as the illuminated wolf lighting a sign outside the bar, offering thirsty patrons beer, wine, and hard liquor. Plus, every day of the week there’s a $5 PBR and shot special.
What to Drink: Stick to the dive bar theme with a $3 Genny can
With eight years under their belt, Goodbye Blue Monday is as close to a Bushwick landmark as a DIY venue can get. The coffee shop meets garage meets scrapyard vibe comes from kitschy accents, including a Brooklyn Dodgers bike hanging from the tin ceiling, plastic garden chairs, and slowly disintegrating figurines and antiques. Live bands often pack the place to overflowing, so you’ll be elbow-to-elbow with other music geeks enjoying the $4 plastic cup of house wine and cheap drafts (including Ballantine). Go now, this Bushwick cult staple is struggling to cover improvements needed to maintain the space and have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds that ends on March 25.
What to Drink/Eat: Every night from 11pm-midnight, you can get a grilled cheese and pint of Pabst for $5. Um, yeah.