Just because it’s getting cold out, it doesn’t mean we have to lock ourselves in our apartments like hermits all winter, we just have to pick the right places to hang out. And we could certainly do worse than hitting up some local bars blessed with glorious open fireplaces to keep us cozy. Here’s a few to choose from: Continue reading
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.
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
So its January 2nd, the official day to be sick of hearing people say happy new year, and I’m walking back to my apartment. It’s almost midnight, and I’m making the decision that the hoodie/peacoat layered combo is not working out, and I’m freezing my tits off. I have a wool overcoat at home that is my final defense against the cold in the wintertime, and it is about to be deployed. Earlier tonight, I was remarking to a friend at the People’s Improv Theater, at how I’d gamble his wool trench coat locks out the winter real well. Layering is cold weather wears for poor people, since we can’t always dial out the cold with our warmest outerlayer, nor afford parkas. I had just recently upgraded from the old denim jacket I had wrapped around my hoodie, and it was losing the weather battle. This was while heading home from a bar I work at on the Greenpoint/Williamsburg border called Spritzenhaus. Today, the bar was particularly quiet, and since I’ve been working every day since the weekend, I’ve been unable to fully shake this Chicago cold my girlfriend got me this Christmas. The only big group we had was my buddy Jen’s writers group that was meeting to expand their contributor base, which definitely helped my cause. Still this felt like the longest shift possible, and I got out early on account of the light bar traffic. I grabbed myself a Jever Pilsner, which I love, and found myself over by Jen’s Greenpointers party. Before I knew it I was offering to contribute some words as a local bartending greenpoint resident. As well as gushing over my awesome roommate Nithya, they loved this idea, and said I could use the blog as a sounding board for all the events I’m a part of, like my bands (No Way, The Golden Age of Radio), my improv groups (Milhaus, Backfat, People’s Improv Theater), or my live karaoke band (Infinity Spaceship @ St. Vitus). So I think I’m gonna do it. I hope you like reading it. My name is Brian Lucrezia.
If you haven’t been following the news on the massive new biergarten coming to Greenpoint in the next couple of weeks, you’ve been behind the ball.
Eater has been covering Spritzenhaus since last fall, Will Femia has been photographing the progress just as long and Gothamist reports there will be 100 taps. ONE HUNDRED. Spritzenhaus is going to be epic. And it’s all within walking distance of me. Yay.
33 Nassau Avenue