The Black Rabbit Bar (91 Greenpoint Ave) is easily one of the most visually appealing bars in all of Brooklyn–a softly lit, atmospheric wood-paneled den with a narrow, rail car-style interior and a tranquil, leafy backyard. A portrait of the tavern’s namesake, the Rabbit himself (the owner’s Irish grandfather), hangs in a prominent position on the wall. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the private booths with swinging, hinged double doors, evoking the entrance of a “Wild West” era saloon. This is perhaps a misleading comparison, as bartender and owner Kent Lanier claims there has never been a fight on the premises (something he partly attributes to the purposeful lack of Red Bull or Jagermeister in the pub).

No, on this Tuesday night – and damn near every Tuesday night since 2007 – the only battle is the battle of minds and wills as teams of (up to) 5 compete in the long-running Nerd Alert Trivia, a pub quiz the Village Voice dubbed the Best Trivia in New York last year – not Greenpoint, not the borough – this is the best goddamn game in town.

It’s a credit to the quiz masters, Ryan Harris and Casey Depont, who’ve teamed up to share hosting duties since 2010. Crafting the perfect trivia questions is a bit like mixing the perfect Old Fashioned – you’ve got to strike the perfect balance.

“The perfect trivia question is one where the answer lies in that hard to reach corner of your brain,” says Harris, in between sips of a Sapphire gin and tonic. “Difficult but not impossible. Attainable, but not without reaching on your mental tippy-toes. I want everyone to be frustrated with themselves – not the trivia host.”

Depont added, “Our trivia night is a lot more interactive than most. We both have pretty distinct personalities on the mic, and the bar is small enough that if you say something to us from inside your booth, we can hear you and we’ll talk back. Or argue with each other. Or sing along with the songs, sometimes. It’s a very jovial atmosphere.”

You won’t get the standard syndicated questions of lazier pub quiz “hosts” – questions are original and compiled fresh by Harris and Depont on a weekly basis. Harris doesn’t think much of trivia “hosts” who use syndicated questions or stock material from trivia books. “I think it’s bullshit. Bar trivia should have a personality and a flavor, and if you’re reading someone else’s canned shit, it doesn’t.”

Categories will never be so generic as a “music round.” Instead, in one round called “Pet Sounds” key song lyrics are replaced by farm animal noises–ie, in “Surfin’ USA” the line “a bushy-bushy blond hairdo” is replaced with the sound of a braying donkey, and quiz-takers must fill in the gap.

Another recurring fan favorite is the famed “Batman vs. Shakespeare,” when the crowd must discern if a line like “I will encounter darkness as a bride, and hug it in my arms” was penned by the immortal Bard or spoken by Bruce Wayne (that one is Shakespeare, if you’re curious).

Nerd Alert is every Tuesday night beginning at 8:00 PM. Top prize is a 30 dollar bar tab, but each round also features one “bonus” question that – while not added to your actual score – will score your team a round of shots. What exactly you’ll be shooting is determined at random by the bartender, so for god’s sake tip well or you may find yourself choking back a glass of straight vermouth.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *