When: Easter Sunday, 4:03pm
I walked the longer walk than anticipated from McCarren Park, down Metropolitan Ave., to Interboro, this brewery/distillery past the Grand St. stop along one of the last remaining gritty strips in Williamsburg. Fittingly, for my last few weeks in NYC, I saw the bank near Graham Ave. that was the source of the closest/only ATM when I first moved here (That doesn’t seem right–wouldn’t there be some in bodegas?) and the razed spot where the White Castle stood. Once when I was 26 after a debauched night with some very young British boys (young enough that they were shocked when I said my age) I met in the Charleston, which I can’t believe is still the Charleston, I walked on Metropolitan all the way home to Ridgewood at 5am (roughly 3.6 miles–I just checked). At 45, I only have minutely better judgment but in 2018 I would definitely spring for a Lyft.
I was meeting Karen, whom I hadn’t seen since I interviewed her, and has lived nearby for 20 years like a good old-school Williamsburger, hanging on, waiting for a payoff. I currently know three other women in this position. I’m impatient. I would just move, but I’ve never had a rent stabilized apartment.
Interboro is mildly confusing because they produce beers, nearly all IPAs, and spirits of all sorts. Most of the clientele were drinking beer, four 4oz tastings for $10, a bargain.
The bartenders switched from The Cars at one point to Operation Ivy. “I haven’t heard this in a long time,” the long-haired one one said to the short-haired. I hadn’t either, and it made me wonder when they became acquainted with this album since I listened to “Energy” in high school and these guys couldn’t have been older than kindergartners in 1989. Then again, I was only six when “Just What I Needed” came out and I’m perfectly familiar with the song. (Operation Ivy weren’t top 40 though…)
Age appropriate? Despite a mostly millennial clientele, I would say yes. There is an added layer to drinking at the same location where the beverages are produced that is nerdy in a way that could attract all ages. I did see a handsome white-haired man who could’ve been mid-40s or mid-50s with a woman of similar age and hair color. He looked like a British character actor who I couldn’t place until this morning. I forgot how in NYC when you see someone who might be someone, it’s not unreasonable that they are that person. This man was not Mark Bonnar, as it turned out, but I’m only mentioning this because I impressed myself that I even turned up this actor’s name with little to go on.
Like a mini-Murray Hill, the corner that Spritzenhaus inhabits can be off-putting with its overflow of khaki cargo shorts and shouty clumps (80/20 male to female ratio) occupying picnic tables (there is a rule that under-30s can’t leave the house with fewer than five friends). No one has lived apart from a mid-sized town for more than three years, 718 tattoos aside.
And yet there is some deeply weird shit going on within the brick walls and just beyond them. I can’t recall the last time–maybe never–I encountered such a concentration of middle-aged revelers in North Brooklyn. My first assumption was that the cropped pants crew of short-haired ladies, the red-and-black Talbot’s blazer woman with a balding dad jeans, and the suburban bikers all attending the same party, as if all old people must like other old people (similar to how Tinder considers 49+ to be one vast category–if you’re open to dating 50 year olds, you may as well bang a dude who’s 75) but each was its own distinct social group.
Outside the picture windows, a group in their 50s, men in fedoras and a two women, one with a sharp black-and-white bob à la Terri Nunn were strutting toward a parked car. This scene ruined my theory about millennials traveling in packs; perhaps an aversion is uniquely Gen X. Swingers, I swear.
One theory that still holds true is that Williamsburg, and to a lesser degree Greenpoint, are mayhem on weekends but it’s a relatively short, concentrated burst. On my way back to the G around 2am, I passed by Spritzenhaus and it and the cavernous space was mostly empty.
Age Appropriate? Yes, counter-intuitively. One of the women in the biker crew, who resembled a younger Kim Gordon in cords, had to put on reading glasses to look at the beer list and I could admire that.
Was I carded? Yes, and I imagine everyone walking up the steps to the entrance is asked for I.D.
] Photo: Grandma Club
When: Friday, 8:08pm
I blindly took a seat at the bar while a friend’s band set up and happened to sit next to the only other woman by herself who looked mature. She was probably 37 because whenever I think someone is my age they turn out to be 37. “I never go out,” she told me, having made the trek from Bed-Stuy. She and her boyfriend, who wasn’t there, don’t really drink. The friend she was waiting for was lost on her way from the East Village and didn’t arrive until after the music started. It was loud; they moved to the back. The friend looked more like 47, though it may have been the fault of her short, sensible haircut that signaled mom hair, but mom hair from the ‘80s.
I wondered if I had mom hair, decided I might, then ordered another Sixpoint.
Being oblivious to your looks also made me think of a Middle Ages sub-genre: grandmas at the club. I’ve not experienced this insult (maybe that’s the difference between Atlanta and Brooklyn) though when I saw The Fresh & Onlys at Glasslands last month I made a point of surveying the scene, and not only were there definitely not any women over 40, there were barely any women not in the company of men (most who just use shows as an excuse to rub their dates’ backs sensually in public).
Age appropriate? Sort of. I mean, no one’s going to call you a grandma.
When: Tuesday, some time after 2am
What did I drink? Three Brooklyn Lagers ($6)
If you’re anything like me, New Year’s Eve is rarely joyous so the best remedy is to approach the pseudo-holiday with very low expectations coupled with the promise of un-sensible quantities of liquor. Hence, Night of Joy, one of the neighborhood bars that was licensed to sell alcohol until 8am.
You might think that hearing The Vaselines and Orange Juice coming from a turntable on New Year’s Eve would temper any prickliness or apprehension at the passing of another year. And you would be correct–assuming the DJ wasn’t a 20something in a striped sweater and a gray wedge cut. All of the musical and stylistic components were there, yet the age–and accompanying lack of self-awareness –canceled out any good will.
By 3:34am I was on my way home to drink a shot of Jim Beam and watch the scene from Eastbound & Down where Kenny goes on a coke binge to Bauhaus and Shane dies during “Walk Like An Egyptian.” Happy new year!
Was I carded? I’m fairly certain there was a doorman performing due diligence.
Age appropriate? At this point does the question even need to be asked when concerning Williamsburg?
When: Tuesday, 8:48pm
What did I drink? Strictly Rhythm (Beefeater gin, Aperol, Dolin Dry, grapefruit bitters, Zucca) $11; two Bulleit bourbons on the rocks, price unknown.
“Ghost! Just because I’m a potter doesn’t mean I like Ghost!”
Bar Below Rye isn’t huge, and was lacking enough bodies to ensure a conversation-muffling din. Even over Cults, Sleigh Bells and Belle and Sebastian, bands that wouldn’t be out of bounds on a Brooklyn middle-ager’s
WalkmaniPod shouts traveled down the bar.
Ghost? A one-named underground potter that I wasn’t enough in the know to identify? Before Jonathan Adler had a string of retail stores (and dishes I couldn’t resist on One Kings Lane) his name would pop up in media as a celebrity potter, so it was an entirely implausible evolution.
Parsing, parsing…ah, Patrick Swayze was the impetus for the outrage.
I suggested that enough time would eventually pass and new crops wouldn’t be familiar with the movie, underestimating the millennial love of the ‘90s.
“I’m under 30 and everyone still says it,” the potter lamented.
Of course they do. And 23 years later Ghost is becoming a TV show.
Ghost inevitably led to Ghost Dad, which again triggered talk of Ghost Dog.
Age appropriate? Not in the literal sense, but the drunk and chatty vibe wasn’t exclusionary. Soon enough we’ll all be ghosts.
When: Tuesday, 11:49pm
What did I drink? Bossa Nova Smash (Old Overholt Rye, lemon, mint) $9. After midnight it became ladies’ night, therefore two for one, so a number of gin and tonics and beers were also consumed.
Bossa Nova Civic Club was the setting for a double birthday party. The women were turning 39 and 40, one visiting from Miami along with her 19-year-old son who is a DJ and lives in Williamsburg, which is kind of hard to fathom. “A grown man came out of your body!” (Unbeknownst to me, I was sitting next to the son earlier at The Rookery’s bar. I hadn’t seen this now-adult since he was in preschool.)
If it’s good enough for Florent, right? (And yes, he showed up at the end of the night.)
There were gay men, black men, old men, even a Goth man named Geronimo who may or may not have been Native American. What there wasn’t were the typical L train Bushwickers and their beards and plaid. House music will have that effect.
Oh, there also weren’t any women over 40. It’s hard enough finding middle-aged women out and about as it is, and those who’ll stay out till 4am dancing on a weeknight are a rarer species still. Where are you?
Was I carded? Yes
Age appropriate? I would still say yes since Bossa Nova operates outside of typical Brooklyn bar conventions. A twentysomething from the neighborhood who was surprisingly welcoming of gentrification (more things to do) even gave me his number. (I didn’t ask–he told me to put it in my phone and watched as I typed so I had no choice.)
When: Thursday, 6:55pm
What did I drink? House white that was something Italian, not the rioja blanca on the menu ($9), gin and tonic (?)
After nine months living a block from St. Mazie, I finally paid a visit only after getting locked out of my apartment for the first time. I had been under the impression that the bar was Spanish (there’s flamenco, right?) which didn’t appear to be the case at all. There were some young men at the bar, one in a trucker hat, drinking bottles of Brooklyn lager. I frequently walk past a sign on the corner advertising $1 oysters. No evidence of this special was listed inside. I’m sure that St. Mazie has something going for it–live music appears to be their thing–I just wasn’t able to unearth it on this visit.
Age appropriate? Mostly in atmosphere, not clientele. By 7:40pm two middle-aged-ish men had appeared, both with women who looked to be a good decade younger. It’s also quite possible that the guys just hadn’t aged well.
When: Thursday, 7:11pm; Saturday, 10:53pm
What did I drink? B Side Daiquiri Down (rum, rye, honey, lime, Aphrodite bitters), Randolph Paloma (Holland pepper-infused tequila, lime, grapefruit, strawberry, agave nectar, smoked salts) $12
Though the style The Randolph in Brooklyn is going for is that rock and roll ‘70s/’80s intersection that’s gaining popularity–old timey meaning neon, graffiti and eight-tracks–the feeling is refreshingly midwestern. The space is midwestern big (where else in NYC are two allowed to take up a booth?), the staff is midwestern friendly and the clientele is kind of uncool, which yes, I’m equating with the midwest too.
There’s also the matter of young customers and old people music. And I don’t mean ’80s pop so much as We Five (I’ve always loved their one hit) Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond and REO Speedwagon (popular in the ’80s but not ’80s pop). It’s jarring. The closest thing to an old person is the gray-beard bartender who appears to be firmly in his 30s.
Was I carded? Apologetically on the weekend. I wasn’t clear if the “sorry” was for having to card period or because it was so ludicrous based on my appearance.
Age appropriate? Not so much. One visit was on Halloween when a friend was dressed as The Greatest American Hero. Her coworkers didn’t know who that was, and I’m doubtful that anyone at The Randolph did either, despite the nostalgia embraces elsewhere.
When: Friday, 10-ish
What did I drink? One Sixpoint Sweet Action, one Green Flash West Coast IPA, one Four Roses on the rocks, one pint I don’t recall
Never has such little time passed between statement of intent and execution. Left to my own devices, months, maybe years, could pass before doing what I say I will. An acquaintance’s desire to turn 40 while drinking 40s was the subject a fortuitous Facebook invite. The online outrage over $10 bottles of oversized Miller in brown paper bags in Bed-Stuy had resulted in a two-dollar price reduction. Not unreasonable. Nonetheless, no one else at Beast of Bourbon was drinking them.
Age appropriate? Theoretically. During one periodic check, 7/8 of our back patio picnic table was 40+. Minus the bald man in a polo, who was likely similarly aged but differently styled, the oldest people having the dirtiest time was our rotating group.
Was I carded? Yes, but only because there was a bouncer doing his job at a new enormous bar with more space than people.
When: Friday, 6:53pm
What did I drink? One glass of Torrontes, $9; The Reformer (Avua Amburana cachaça, Elcano Fino sherry, Cherry Heering, Peychaud’s Bitters, pasilla and moruga scorpion chiles), $14.
With oysters for $1 (6-8pm, Tuesday-Friday, all day Monday, Sunday) and oysters that are bong-smoked (not $1) Desnuda would seem to attract a younger crowd (not that grandmas are opposed to good deals and stoner gimmicks). And it does.
On the early side, though, the bar is relaxed, the chairs are comfortable, the staff welcoming. I would feel ok with returning on my own. A few solo men had taken up residency, one, slightly too serious, definitely older than 40 and reading The Memory of Love (yes, I had to look that up), which I don’t know how to interpret at all.
When the gentleman preparing the plates of raw fish asked how I liked the place, I said, “It’s nice; it’s not obnoxious,” which is kind of an obnoxious thing to say in retrospect, but it was worse, though funnier, because he thought I simply said, “It’s obnoxious.” As if I make a habit out of telling staff to their faces that their establishments are obnoxious (that’s what blogs are for, duh).
Was I carded? No. Places that are equally bar and restaurant rarely ID.
Age appropriate? Pretty much–at least in theory–at this point I’ve all but given up on seeing any women over 40 in bars, at least in North Brooklyn, but persist, nonetheless.