Bar Crawl: Franklin Street, Greenpoint

Bar Crawl: Franklin Street, Greenpoint

by Clubplanet
08.04.2008

While the cheap rents and spacious, artist-friendly lofts in Williamsburg once made the Brooklyn neighborhood a hotbed for fashion trends and envelope-pushing bars in the late 90s, its current cultural backlash was just as inevitable. Quibbles over the Williamsburg’s new crop of condominium eyesores and bougie boutiques are trite but true, and the main drag of Bedford Avenue has morphed into a strip of collegiate bars teeming with yuppies who titter about smoking joints after the baby’s asleep. As the price of Blue Moon creeps ever higher on North 6th, barflies have set out in search of better jukeboxes and less stilted atmospheres in Brooklyn’s upper reaches, and many have found new haunts in Greenpoint, the homespun Polish neighborhood north of Mccarren Park.

If Manhattan Avenue still remains within the drinking jurisdiction of aging Eastern Europeans, Franklin Street has quietly amassed a string of moody, burnished bars for the American-born youth who have wearied of the tired gimmickry that blights mainstay venues off the L train. Like only the best Risk players, Franklin’s drinking empire rose in stealth, scarcely noticeable amid the hullabaloo a mile south, but many of the area’s best new bars have surfaced on its humble blocks. If you’ve outgrown the zombie nights and hipster proms on Bedford Avenue, bike up the untrampled route to this low-profile Greenpoint street and check out the winners that have opened their doors right under your nose.

Jack O’Neill’s
130 Franklin St.
718-389-3888

 Don’t feel put off by the empty interior during summertime: Pencil Factory’s proximity 50 feet away—and its inviting sidewalk seating—beckons smokers and drinkers who appreciate a heady summer breeze rather than Jack’s slightly dingier backyard patio. Jack’s has never drawn bustling crowds of newcomers to colonize its bar stools and couch seating with loud conversation and beer-spilling antics, appealing instead to a weathered clientele that return nightly for its low-key attitude. Beer prices run cheap--$5 pints of Old Speckled Hen, Stella Artois, and seven of their compatriots—and plentiful seating relieves the potential for milling masses. Black oak tables cluster in the front, while the back area is half-Irish bed-and-breakfast and half-parlor; threadbare couches preside over an antique coffee table, and oil paintings of long-dead Irishmen hang on the red walls. On particularly slow nights, the bartenders will line up free shots of whiskey for the lucky few with enough good sense to give this tasteful venue a whirl.
Click here for more info on Jack O'Neill's, Brooklyn NY


Pencil Factory

142 Franklin St
718-609-5858

Pity the residents who live above the southwest corner of Greenpoint Ave and Franklin Street! When the mustering cold of March gives way to forgiving springtime, Pencil Factory embarks on a seasonal salute to outdoor gatherings. Patrons make a beeline for the bar indoors, bypassing the army of rough-hewn pub furnishings and tea candles in favor of the modest sidewalk patio. Dogs nose under the feet of anyone within distance of their leashed-in radii, and American Spirits accumulate by the dozens in empty glasses. Even hotboxed miseries of August are alleviated by winds off the nearby harbor, and small talk of borrowed lighters and overheard conversations can often forge new acquaintances.
Click here for more info on Pencil Factory, Brooklyn NY

Black Rabbit
91 Greenpoint Ave
718-349-1595

While there’s much to be said for patrician British décor, Franklin Street fixtures could fill one too many volumes. Nevertheless, Black Rabbit storms Greenpoint’s ongoing contest for Most Patrician UK-inspired Venue for miles, largely thanks to its true-blue pedigree. Owner Kent Lanier pays homage to his Irish roots by showcasing family portraits of relatives who immigrated from the coast decades earlier. Like Jack’s down the street, Black Rabbit favorably employs red walls and iron light fixtures to amplify the countrified ambience, but the latter revels in a definitively buttoned-up posture. Dark saloon-style doors are hinged before all the booths next to the bar, allowing a modicum of privacy for seated guests, and a red button fixed to each stall summons a barback to take drink orders. The spare backyard patio, though softened by strings of white lights, services smokers looking for a quick fix rather than those seeking a handsome retreat unto itself.
Click here for more info on Black Rabbit, Brooklyn NY

Lost & Found
113 Franklin St
718-383-6000

Catty-corner to Pencil Factory, Lost & Found makes no bones about abstaining from the bucolic sentiments of its neighboring brethren. Aesthetically aligned with the warehoused bars of edgier Bushwick enclaves, the cavernous interior occupies two and a half floors, flushed with red Christmas lights that glint Satanically from above. The top floor hosts a pool table and two worn skeeball kiosks, though second floor inhabitants will have more fun observing beer-swillers a floor below. The middle terrain is little more than an underlit landing, but benefits from the addition of three pilling couches. Guest DJs and touring bands visit nearly every weekend, though the indie-cub music is more conducive to yelling over beers than dancing. Free hot dogs (and veggie equivalents) are available upon purchase of a drink.
Click here for more info on Lost & Found, Brooklyn NY

The Morning After: Brunch

Brooklyn Label
180 Franklin St
718-389-2806

As a dry venue, Brooklyn Label won’t serve any more of the hair of the dog that bit you last night, but the availability of banana fosters French toast and cardamom cappuccinos will appease raw stomach linings and throbbing temples. Truly beer-battered patrons might need to keep the sunglasses on even indoors, as the lemon-yellow walls are nearly as overpowering as a sunbeam aimed straight to the pupils. The countertop is lined with Balthazar goodies and boutique simple syrups (who but the rising middle-class orders lavender-flavored Italian sodas?) Cooler mornings call for one of the five varieties of hot chocolates, including a spicy Aztec number that will smack your synapses awake and reporting for duty. Several outdoor tables offer guests prime seating for Walk of Shame spotting.
Click here for more info on Brooklyn Label, Brooklyn NY



Greenpoint Coffee House

195 Franklin St
718-348-6635

Known throughout the neighborhood for mighty veggie burgers and buttered pancake slabs, Greenpoint Coffee House has

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