The Three Best Brooklyn Bars with Outdoor Seating

July 4, 2012 4:40 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Maison Premiere
The quaint interior at our number one spot belies its breathtakingly beautiful garden. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Third Place: Huckleberry Bar - East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sure, Huckleberry Bar's a bit pretentious-- but that has less to do with the stellar cocktails and beautiful design, and more to do with its identity crisis.

As fate would have it, this is a bar that undermines its worthy efforts by trying to offer everything that East Williamsburg has become synonymous with: in short, good-intentioned grunge. What we mean is that this is the same place that offers the best Corpse Reviver and cheapest-while-still-being-good Duck Terrine in the city also projects grindhouse movies on the wall and offers you cold, stale popcorn to go with it. And when you're harassed by a clientele that always seems to be too belligerently drunk for what this place seemed to have been going for at one point, you have to ask yourself what would compel one otherwise wonderful joint to stab itself in the foot by trying to be so many lesser places?

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Don't run away just yet: exit through the back door and into the bar's garden, which is lovely, unprepossessing, and spacious. It'll give you all the fresh air you need to really enjoy your cocktail: the stuff the bartender's mix up here is some of the best in the city. Even when the bar holds outdoor events, you're never standing shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone else. You never quite feel the perils of spilling your drink the way you do at some of the spots on the mainland island of Manhattan.

And when it comes down to it, there isn't anything more satisfying than that.

Second Place: Bushwick Country Club - East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Oh man, the spot I have in my heart for the Bushwick Country Club. This was the first bar I ever went to in Brooklyn, and it remains one of my favorite. If you're looking to get drunk for cheap-- and we mean actually cheap, not just cheap-for-New York City-- this is the place to go. They have a solid beer selection for a bar that doesn't specialize in that, and some great drink specials that all float around the rebranding of the PBR as the hippest of the hoppy potables.

We recommend you grab the sweet-and-strong Jack-and-Coke slushy (!!!!) and head into their backyard, where they're always grilling up free hot dogs and hamburgers. Even better, there's free put-put golf that you play with a wiffle bat and wiffle balls.

This may all sound really darling, but we promise you it's anything but. This is a grungy dive bar in the immortal spirit of the dive bar. It sticks its middle finger up at any designer who ever shot for the moon and missed, reminding them and all of us that when it comes to an evening out, good fun is worth its weight in gold.

We recommend you start somewhere fancier and end your night here. It'll make you seem like someone who knows what's what, and it'll all but guarantee your night won't end here, if you know what I mean.

First Place: Maison Premiere - Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I remember when this place was still a wee well-kept secret. Unfortunately for us locals, and fortunately for so many New Yorkers who need a beautiful bar where oysters get shucked for little more than a buck, the secret's out.

Maison Premiere, a watering hole the color of faded jade, brings a little bit of 1920's New Orleans to the darlingly ramshackle streets of South Williamsburg. With a fabulous offering of absinthe drips to match the most generous selection of good, cheap oysters this side of the Mississippi, this bar is so fantastic it justifies a visit from even the most posh New Yorkers who'd otherwise never make the trip just south of the most gentrified portion of the Bedford Aveue promenade.

While every bit of the interior-- and this includes the outhouse-inspired bathrooms-- is meticulously recreated from quite a bit of visual research into how we remember New Orleans, it is the aesthetic rupture from memory and into pure imagination we find when we enter the bar's backyard that allows the bar to transcend the trappings of its neighborhood and become one of the best in the city. The experience of entering it, and drinking absinthe below the hanging ivy, is breathtaking. This is the kind of place where fireflies would go.


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