Brooklyn

Greenpoint Winter Survival Guide: Winter Cocktails to Warm You Up

Jeremy Wilson, Bar Manager at Ramona with the Painting the Daybreaks cocktail

Need a new signature drink as your summer of frosé becomes a very distant memory? Ramona’s bar manager Jeremy Wilson takes this tricky life decision off your plate in this week’s installment of our winter survival guide. Check out our previous winter guide interviews here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

COCKTAILS: RAMONA | 113 Franklin Street

Jeremy Wilson, Bar Manager

Greenpointers: Is there a favorite cocktail that you have on the menu that you could recommend if you want to feel more uplifted in the winter months?

Jeremy Wilson: We usually come up with a couple of hot drinks for the winter. We have the hot toddy that we always do called Elsa’s Toddy, named after our sister bar.  Especially when it’s snowing, people come in and ask for it.  It’s rye whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup that’s cut with water, fresh mint, hot water and angostura bitters on top. It’s pretty clean and refreshing and just makes you feel better.

GP: What are some other drinks that you’d recommend at this time of year?

JW: The other drink would be the Black Book which is bourbon, honey, lemon, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and jalapeño. The cinnamon really comes out in the forefront and the jalapeño lingers at the end. A lot of people think it tastes like Christmas. We also have a cocktail called Painting the Daybreaks which is for the relief fund for Puerto Rico and it’s coconut, tequila, cinnamon, cassis, orange rind, lime juice, and coconut La Croix on top. It’s a very big, loud drink and it’s really good. When you use cinnamon, coconut and tequila with other ingredients, you can make a pretty great holiday cocktail. Continue reading

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“Canners”—A Documentary About NYC’s Can Collectors—Screening + Q&A This Saturday (1/27) at City Reliquary

Canners Film

You’ve certainly heard their carts clanking down the sidewalks of NYC, and maybe you’ve also seen them sorting through your trash bins before recycling day. These are NYC’s “canners”—people who collect giant piles of cans and bottles and exchange them for money at a nickel a piece. The recent documentary film Canners examines the lives of these dedicated folks who are just trying to earn some cash, and according to the NY Times, “delivers a powerful ethical message about what it means to live in a city, and how each of us can choose to acknowledge or ignore our fellow citizens”. The film is screening this Saturday (1/27) evening at City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Ave) at 7pm, with a Q&A session from director Manfred Kirchheimer. Also in attendance will be team members from Sure We Can, a nonprofit recycling center and community space featured in this film.

Get tickets now through Artfully. $7 General/$5 City Reliquary Members

This event is part of the public programming for NYC Trash! Past, Present, & Future, on view at The City Reliquary until April 29, 2018. Continue reading

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The Story Behind Brooklyn’s Iconic Water Tanks

Courtesy of Ted McGrath on Flickr.
Via Ted McGrath on Flickr.

PARIS has its world famous Eiffel Tower. Pisa, of course has its leaning tower and London has its ancient tower. What about New York? We have towers, too, but here, they hold water.
Although the skyline of New York city has changed dramatically over the years, one element has remained constant; the city’s romantic wooden water towers, which are every bit as iconic as the Empire State building or the Chrysler Building. There are more than 10,000 water towers around the city, which feature prominently in the works of famous New York artists Like Edward Hopper and the Ash Can School.

In the 1880s, steel was transforming the New York skyline, allowing buildings to reach above five stories, but also creating a design problem. As the buildings soared upwards, water pressure could only reach the fifth floor. Taller buildings needed water for the upper floors and that’s why the water towers were built. Water towers use gravity to help create pressure in pipes on the upper floors. These wooden towers are still the water source for many of the city’s buildings, and they also contain enough water to feed the sprinklers if there’s a fire.
With demand spiking for water towers in late nineteenth century New York, Brooklyn’s large barrel making industry was perfectly positioned to build the city’s water towers. One of the firms that achieved market dominance was the Rosenwach Water Tower Company, which for decades was located in the Northside.
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“Dandy Be Good” Offers Sizzling Tales in Bitter Weather

Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk
G.J. Dowding. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk

Vital Joint’s venue is tiny, but the amount of pre-show audience chitchat was enormous. Most was facilitated by a a suit-donning and larger-than-life Rhinelander (more on him later), but some was organic: “Did you make that necklace” or “Hey, the bar serves beer” pleasantries were also exchanged. If there was ever a lull, our German friend was quick to fill it with a quip or suggestion that the cash-only bar is steps away. “This is experimental theater,” he said. “You’ll need a drink.”

This is all the prelude to Dandy Be Good, queer artist GJ’s storytelling cabaret now playing through January 27 at Vital Joint (109 Meserole Street) as part of Brooklyn’s Exponential Festival. Like the pre-show banter, Garlan Jude (GJ)’s show fosters community and togetherness. They lip sync to songs from Judy Garland (a fun reversal on the performer’s name?) and interviews from socialite women of yore. But GJ doesn’t hog the stage — they share it with a trio of guest performers: a vaudevillian-reminiscent actress, a consummate orator, and — yes — our chatty German pal.

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A Brief History of the Puerto Ricans in Greenpoint

Members of the Assembly of God Church in 1928

Sunday, January 14th is a day of pride for the Puerto Rican community in North Brooklyn. It is the celebration of the feast of the Three Kings and there is an enthusiastic parade and celebration of Puerto Rican culture on Grand Street. In traditional Puerto Rican culture, the feast day was a day of celebration and gift giving that was actually bigger than Christmas for many Puerto Ricans. So it’s a good time to reflect on the long history of Puerto Ricans in our part of Brooklyn. Continue reading

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The Amazing Philanthropist Who Founded Williamsburg’s First Public Schools

Grahams Polley

So many of the wealthy in today’s world are both so selfish and self-interested that it’s easy to believe that rich people do not think of those who have nothing. The story of Grahams Polley, the great Williamsburg philanthropist, however, shows that wealth and concern for the poor and for public education are not mutually exclusive. Polley only lived to be thirty-four years of age, dying in a riding accident in 1860 and leaving behind a wife and ten children. His charity was legendary and left a legacy still felt today.

Polley was born in Manhattan to a poor family. He never had the chance to go to school for himself and he never learned to read or write, but he died as a bank president with a fortune of $40,000. He was determined to use his wealth for the public good and his chief interest was ensuring that all of Williamsburg’s children got educated. Continue reading

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January 9th: The Anniversary of the Great Fire that Destroyed the Domino Refinery in 1882

January 9th marks the one hundred thirty-sixth anniversary of one of the most destructive fires in North Brooklyn. On a frigid January night, the Havemeyer and Elder Refinery, which would forty years later be renamed as Domino, went up in one of the most spectacular fires the area had ever witnessed.

The refinery, the largest building in Williamsburg at the time, was nine stories high, covering an entire block on Wythe Avenue between South Third and South Fourth streets and stretching some two hundred feet in from the street to the East river shore. Having been in the sugar business for more than eighty years, the Havemeyer family knew the danger that fires often broke out in sugar refineries. The presence of steam, thousands of moving parts that could cause sparks in the refinery and the highly flammable sugar all made fire a grave risk. For a quarter century they had refined huge amounts of sugar without incident, but their luck would run out that January day.
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Where To Pre-New Years: PJ’s & DJ’s This Friday! (12/29)

Pj's n DJ's

Dance off 2017 in comfort before the New Year at the third annual PJs ‘N DJs PartyFriday at Littlefield (635 Sackett Street) starting at 10pm, with indie rock and electropop DJs Brian Blackout and Doctor Mister (picked by Time Out New York as two of NYC’s best nightlife DJs). What to wear? “Fashionable flannel sets, oversized t-shirts, silk slips, or even one those fleece onesies with the animal heads.” Tickets are only $5, more info available here.
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Marina Aris: Building a Writing Community in Greenpoint

Marina Aris, founder of Brooklyn Writers Project
Marina Aris, founder of Brooklyn Writers Project

I first met Marina Aris two years ago when she invited me to take part in Indie Writers Day at the Greenpoint Library. Marina immediately impressed me not only with her in-depth knowledge about independent publishing, but more with her warmth and amazing enthusiasm about independent publishing. Her eagerness to help others realize their vision of successfully self-publishing their stories stood out. I participated again this year at Indie Day and saw that Marina was making major steps to create a Greenpoint writers center. Interested in writing? Then Marina’s story of how she created the Brooklyn Writers Project should interest you. Continue reading

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Horrific History Lesson: Working Conditions at The Domino Sugar Refinery

Although the former Domino Sugar refinery on Kent Avenue does not lie in Greenpoint, the building and the firm that ran it, Havemeyer and Elder, cast a long shadow over local history. Having spent the summer researching the plant for my upcoming book The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King, it is hard to express how much suffering is associated with the refinery.

The plant, which was opened in 1858, employed thousands of Greenpointers over its almost a century-and-a-half of existence. Much of the reason that we have a Polish population today is because the refinery had a policy of hiring Slavic men, principally Polish, who could not recount to outsiders the misery that working in the plant entailed. They worked in horrendous conditions that we can scarcely imagine today. Continue reading

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