We’ve been doing pub crawls for about 10 years. Sometimes we visit iconic bars (McSorleys, Whitehorse Tavern, Old Town Bar), sometimes we do area pub crawls (Upper East Side, Downtown New York, Smith Street Brooklyn) and occasionally we do a themed pub crawl (Belgium bars, dive bars, pubs with an outdoor garden). Our latest pub crawl fit none of those categories. The idea was to visit at least one pub in three different boroughs of New York City. Easily done by car or public transportation, but a bit challenging for us as one of the rules of our pub crawls is that we must walk between stops. (This is a pub crawl after all.)
First stop was Manhattan. The Jeffrey, a few blocks from the subway station at 59th Street, is located at the entrance to the Ed Koch Bridge (aka Queens Borough Bridge) on 60th Street. The Jeffrey not only has a great selection of draft beer, but is also an espresso bar in the morning and a cocktail lounge in the evening. In addition, Chef Nick Ryan serves “creative gastro-bites”. My drinking companions ordered the Rushing Duck Beanhead Coffee Porter and an Anchor Mango wheat, while I went with the Kent Falls Common Table Beer, a low-alcohol English Porter that reminded me of a Mackeson Stout. For food, we ordered the Red Beet Deviled Eggs and an assortment of gourmet pretzels. These were all enjoyed in the beer garden in the back.
Next stop was Queens, which we reached by walking across the bridge. Of course, as I walked the bridge I was singing “Feelin’ Groovy”, the Simon & Garfunkel song about the 59th Street Bridge (yet another name for this bridge). While the views to the south were a bit obscured by the bridge, we had nice views looking north. The bridge was about 1 ½ miles, and then a few more blocks in Long Island City to our second stop, Bierocracy, a gastro pub on Jackson Avenue. Bierocracy is an old world beer hall featuring cuisine inspired by Central Europe. After a conversation with Jake, our knowledgeable and friendly bartender, I decided to do the brunch thing and went with a Croque Madam (a ham & cheese grilled sandwich with a fried egg on top), washed down with a beer cocktail ( a 50-50 blend of grapefruit juice and Schofferhofer Hefeweizen). The others went with the Bierocracy Dark (a traditional Belgian style wheat beer) and the 1875 Pale Ale from Rockaway Brewing. These were accompanied with a platter of a trio of Sausages (kielbasa, bratwurst and bockwurst).
We continued down 11th Street to the Pulaski Bridge and walked into Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the third borough on our tour. The bridge provided us with an interesting view of the boats docked on the East River and an uncommon view of the cars lined up at tolls for the Midtown Tunnel. (My normal view of the cars at the toll booth is from behind, rather than from overhead!) A right on Freeman Street and a left on Franklin brought us to TBD, a converted warehouse that is now a combination lounge and outdoor beer garden. Here we had Ithaca CascaZilla (a hoppy red ale) and two beers from Peak Organic (Brown Ale and Mocha Stout). The beer garden was a great place to relax on an almost-Spring day afternoon. Only drawback was that the grilling station was unmanned, so there was no food being offered that day.
Our final stop was Moonlight Mile, just a few blocks down on Franklin Street. Moonlight Mile is a small neighborhood bar with 12 craft beers on tap. It also has a jukebox, a collection of vinyl records and an interesting exhibit of paintings by local artists on display. We ordered the Greenpoint Flannel Shirt (Red IPA), Left Hand Milk stout and American Pale Ale from Bronx Brewery. Just before Nick and Chris, who were manning the bar, started pouring the beers, they mentioned that Moonlight Mile was also a whiskey bar and had over 200 types of American whiskey. So, the whiskey-drinker of our team quickly switched from the American Pale Ale to a single malt whiskey from Balconies of Waco, Texas.
Three blocks to Greenpoint Avenue, where we hopped on the G train to Court Square and the #7 line back to midtown Manhattan. 2 bridges, 3 boroughs, 4 pubs and 6 ½ miles. Not exactly the 5-boro Bike Tour, but a challenging and rewarding pub crawl nonetheless. What’s next on the agenda? A 5-borough pub crawl? Probably not doable, but something for us to ponder during our next outing.