I drank a lot of whiskey last week on my quest to find Greenpoint’s best hot toddy. The booze guzzling was well worth the effort. I’m proud to announce Greenpoint bars are no stranger to the tasty winter treat. I found a few bangin’ toddies in this ‘hood and got a little tipsy along the way.
Before I feign food critic and rate the toddies, how about some history, in case you’ve somehow survived without toddies all winter long? Traditionally, the drink combines whiskey, boiling water and sugar or honey. Cloves, lemon and/or cinnamon may also be added. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, hot toddies were once recommended as a cure for the common cold, but the American Lung Association denounced this because alcoholic beverages cause dehydration. Yeah, whatever.
Though a seemingly simple recipe, concocting the best hot toddy is an art. You’d be surprised how disappointing a toddy can be – especially when you’re paying $8 for what tastes like hot water with lemon. Luckily, the bartenders in this neighborhood know what they’re doing and tend to be plenty generous when it comes to pouring whiskey.
Runner Up:Greenpoint Heights, 278 Nassau Avenue
Props to the hidden dive bar on the corner for having hot water ready to go upon my arrival. Also, I’m sending a virtual fist pump to the bartender for pouring half a mug-full of Evan Williams before adding the water, cinnamon stick and lemon with cloves. THIS toddy would cure a common cold. And knock you on your ass. Heights’ hot toddy isn’t trying to be anything special. It needs honey. I did like the holiday teddy bear mug, though. And I hear this place has great tacos.
Runner Up: Black Rabbit, 91 Greenpoint Avenue
First, let me point out that Black Rabbit wins for coziest, most perfect toddy ambience. Fireplace? Check. Twinkly lights? Check. This is an ideal place to escape a cold winter night. My biggest problem with their recipe is the use of scotch instead of whiskey. Huh? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite. Rabbit’s excessive use of lemon made the toddy too bitter for my liking. Additional ingredients include honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled and cooled), Tetley’s black tea bag, cinnamon stick and a clove-studded lemon slice.
Third Place: Berry Park, 4 Berry Street
“Jameson. Fresh lemon. Honey.” That’s what the menu reads. There’s not much else to say about it. Berry Park’s toddy fits the traditional definition best. It’s simple and delicious and not trying to be fancy. It had just the right amount of each ingredient.
Second Place: Spritzenhaus, 33 Nassau Avenue
For the record, Spritzenhaus almost came in first. I lucked out with a bartender who is extremely passionate about his hot toddy making. His trick: Coat the bottom of the glass (not a mug) with lots of honey. He used Barton’s whiskey, which sounds worse than it tastes, I promise. The honey disguised it well. You can certainly request better whiskey if you prefer. Spritz’s toddy also included a lemon wedge with cloves in it and a cinnamon stick. Fireplaces and Jenga definitely added to this Greenpoint beer garden’s hot toddy perfection. Bravo, Spritzenhaus. Bravo!
WINNER: Enid’s, 560 Manhattan Avenue
Enid’s serves a perfectly whiskeyed and perfectly sweetened toddy that’s easy on the lemon (despite the use of lemon juice and a lemon wedge) and sans both cinnamon and honey. The secret ingredient that makes this toddy so goddamn delightful is…wait for it…maple syrup! In addition to its deliciousness, the hundreds of handmade snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and the still-standing-in-January Christmas tree provided the ultimate winter atmosphere. Enid’s toddy isn’t on the menu, but ask and you shall receive. Congrats, Enid’s!
The Enid’s Magic Recipe:
1 Part Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 Part Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice
1 Part Grade B Maple Syrup
2 Parts Boiling Water
And stand up comic Kerryn Feehan is funny as shit. She performed at the Greenpointers Sandy Benefit for Adopt NY and was by far the crowd favorite! That is why we are so pumped to learn that she is working on a film, CRUSHED and organized a fundraiser (Kickstart CRUSHED) at Greenpoint Heights (278 Nassau Ave) Thursday, January 17th.
Kerryn has put together a line-up of kick ass local comics, all in one place, for one night. Come LOL with us while helping her get the film CRUSHED produced. Tickets $10 at the door.
Kickstart CRUSHED Line Up:
hosted by Kerryn Feehan, (Stand Up and Take Your Clothes Off, co-writer and star of CRUSHED)
Francoise Gordon (co-star of CRUSHED)
Katie Compa (San Francisco Sketch Fest)
Craig Hillelson (I Don’t Like Your Tone, Tribeca Comedy Club)
Ashley Brooke Roberts (The Dream Show, UCB)
Sean Donnelly (My Dumb Friends Podcast, Gotham, Carolines)
The Lucas Brothers (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Comedy Central, MTV)
CRUSHED the feature film: follows a one-day sober, struggling female comic and her best friend, a brain injured female comic, as they spend a night going from mic to mic in bars all over New York.
Julia, owner of Greenpoint Heights (278 Nassau Ave), over on “this side” of McGuinness, invited me to try brunch recently.
I selfishly schedule meetings at Greenpoint Heights because it is around the block from my apartment and I only need to give myself 5 min to be on time. Whenever anyone comes for the first time, they always say, “This place is great! I didn’t know this was here!” Well now you know.
Aside from a great bar with a huge backyard equipped with a marble cherub fountain and a smoker, they serve a full menu for dinnertime with lots of taco options. I personally love the chicken enchiladas and the delicious raw kale salad with smoked gouda.
If you’ve made it this far into the summer without downing a single taco, I don’t know whether to congratulate you on managing to avoid an increasingly ubiquitous food or console you for missing out on one of Greenpoint’s most versatile foods. The taco has been called (was it Proust?) the ideal food of summer – cheap, good eating in the hot sun, healthier than most things that pair so well with alcohol, and easily scaleable – one is a snack, three is a meal, and five probably means a nap is in your near future. Greenpoint, luckily, has a wide array of noble taquerias to compliment its scenic waterfront and vast oil reserves, and on one glorious afternoon, your writers sampled from each in turn. Continue reading →
While the former Onyx was closed for renovation before the grand reopening this Saturday as the newly named Greenpoint Heights, I received a very concerned email that read: “We’re all worried! It’s our favorite place to hangout up here by McGolrick!”
We agree. The former Onyx has special Greenpointers memories since it’s the first place all the writers met when the blog changed hands. We sang amazing karaoke and bid Justine farewell; a too fun night that I am happy I don’t have pictures to show for!
Some people may be put off by the new name but change is not always bad. It’s a great bar, with friendly owners, an amazing outdoor space with opulent fountains (I hope those stay), good artwork, nice drinks and really delicious tacos and enchiladas. The Monday karaoke there rules! A perfect spot for meeting with friends if you live in the Winthrop Park area and beyond. The new name just takes some getting used to. I won’t be surprised by any backlash since Winthrop Park was changed to McGolrick Park over 50 years ago and I have been beaten into using the old name. As Joel said when he first reviewed the soon to be Greenpoint Heights, it’s far better than SewTrePla.
Whatever the name, we need that convenient awesome bar and are happy to see it reopen this Saturday December 3, 2011. The festivities will begin at 3pm-4am, and will include food, beer and whisky. It’s going to be a good time!
The first time I entered the newly-managed Onyx on Morgan & Nassau in Greenpoint, I heard one of the barkeeps refer to the neighborhood as Greenpoint Heights. I thought this rather fine, since the term North Brooklyn includes northern portions of Williamsburg, and we up here surrounded by Newtown Creek on two sides, the BQE to the south and the treacherous McGuinness Avenue to the west, we are in our own special paradise so many dozens of blocks from the trains. Out here where “Greenpoint” does not mean the Nassau & Greenpoint stops on the G – or only by proxy. (Someone on Yelp referred to the area as Greenpoint SewTrePla – meaning the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, which moniker is less than wonderful.)
When we (me and my various roommates) moved to Greenpoint in 2004, we came from 156th Street in Washington Heights – and our neighborhood bar was on 80th. In Greenpoint we found a fine bar at the end of the block, at Nassau and Morgan avenues: Lyric Lounge. We patronized the place as often as our pockets allowed, but it closed within the year anyway. We were forced to Twisted, and after their demise, to Boulevard, an outpost of a watering hole beneath the crashing rushes of the BQE on Meeker Avenue.
When Lyric Lounge reopened, it was 2006, and it was called Onyx. Instead of rock and roll and some dart-boards, it was a techno-playing Polish-oriented club. And it was an appropriate place for such an establishment, really.
In early 2010 Onyx closed. In Spring 2011 it reopened under the same name (why?) but new management. Back came the rock n roll (whole albums, even) and a place to sit outside with a drink and smoke.
The menu is surprisingly good – surprising I guess because of the ruggedness of the environs. (Boulevard’s menu, in contrast, is culled from a grill crammed into a corner in the back outside-area of the place.) Friends and I have tried Onyx’s grass-fed burgers, chicken sandwiches, mac n cheese, etc. Beers, wines, liquors. No complaints.
Given that the place is the only bar in the area (not including Connie O’s), that they have a backyard, that their happy hour includes $2 High Life, and that the burgers don’t make me feel funky, I will go here as often as they stay open.
And if we’re going to be particular enough to adopt a new handle, please, let’s go with Greenpoint Heights. Not Greenpoint SewTrePla. The mush of its pronunciation is horrible reason enough.