What better way to celebrate the arrival of fall than with a bar crawl? Gather your booziest buds and sample the best brews, cocktails and bar snacks the neighborhood has to offer.
27-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
With old fashioned inspired cocktails, hand-cut ice and ragtime tunes, we kind of forgot where we were (in the atypical bar sense). This yesteryear inspired spot, which draws a respectable crowd even on a weekday night, sports private, dark, wood-paneled booths and a drink menu that’s nothing to scoff at with a multitude of whiskey, rum and vodka tinged options. For the adventurous lush, Dutch Kills offers patrons the chance to “roll their own” and surrender to the bartender’s expertise. You can even enjoy a drink called the “Sunnyside” before returning home to Sunnyside.
Our pick: The “Better and Better”
A little spicy and a little sweet, this slightly smoky and definitely exotic Mezcal-infused libation lives up to its name.
47-10 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City
Not only does this Vernon Boulevard outfit carry a host of specialty cocktails but it also features an incredible full menu, designed with the assistance of “Julie & Julia” writer Julie Powell. We snacked on wasabi deviled eggs and some of the best Brussels sprouts we’ve ever had while lounging on chairs that looked like they came out of a high school from the late 60s. While the décor contains vintage elements, the ambiance remains low key and disarming. The “Long Island City Iced Tea,” which added peach schnapps to the usual cast of characters, was refreshing and a bit fruity with a mighty kick. The “Piggyback” – a shot of Pigs Nose scotch and a shot of house made pickle juice – won us over completely.
Our pick: The Piggyback
Scotch and pickle juice. Do we need to say anything else?
40-17 Broadway, Astoria
Best known for its gourmet grilled cheeses and extensive beer selection, the Kickshaw remains an off-the-beaten-path hub for girls in suspenders and the boys who worship them. While the arsenal of ales, ciders and kombucha is bursting, it doesn’t verge on overwhelming with the assistance of an incredibly knowledgeable staff. The Kickshaw now carries a full menu of food including entrees and small plates. The curried pumpkin seeds were stash-in-your-purse-for-later good. All the food is sneakily vegetarian and remarkably delicious. Polish off your meal with a stout-infused ice cream sandwich. A little-known fact about the Kickshaw – beers only make an in house appearance one time.
Our pick: Kuhnenn Weizen Bock
Nutty and lightly woody with a touch of fruit, we’ll be sad to see this brew bounce.
45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City
This place is all about environment. While there are not many specialty drinks, it keeps a good range of liquor and notable beers on tap. On entry, you are transported to what feels like a 1920s saloon. There’s plenty of scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskeys available for anyone who’s day at the office was extra rough. It also keeps Powers, a coveted Irish whiskey that seems hard to come by these days, well in stock. The best kept secret about LIC bar, however, is its courtyard, where patrons can have a drink, bask in the breeze coming off the river and catch some live music.
Our pick: The Harpoon IPA
Possibly the best beer on tap and just as smooth and relaxed as the bar’s setting.
46-42 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City
With its industrial lamps and rustic green walls, Alobar is like many of the beers it carries — hand crafted. The service, presentation and selections are unique and caters to a vast demographic of regulars. Alobar’s menu also provides a slue of good meals to enjoy with the cornicopia of craft beers the restaurant carries. The Steak and Toads in a Hole is as enjoyable as lightness of the entire bar. For something harder, Alobar prides itself on some of the harder to find whiskeys — including brands of Scotch that may no longer be able to find.
Our pick: The house “Bloody Mary”
Made with Romanoff vodka, it’s the perfect mid-day pick-me-up.
5-14 51st Avenue, Long Island City
They may be currently in a transitional phase, but Alewife is still top notch. Even though its menu apologizes for its limited food options as they’ve just gotten a new chef and are adopting a new menu, the craft beer menu, however, is incomparable. Not only does the bar offer some of the harder-to-find beers, but also an interesting taste. The dim lighting, red walls with French posters send one back to a Paris of old.
Our pick: Bicker Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge
A sour ale, it can best be described as mysteriously delightful. Its taste begins almost reminiscent of red wine and ends as appropriately as the Belgian beer it is.
COMPILED BY TERENCE CULLEN, ALEXA ALTMAN AND ALEX DIBLASI