Places to Drink

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Last month we ran an article called “Places to Eat” in which we did sketches of seven interesting places, some old and some new, where one could sample the varied food being served on or just off of Nostrand Avenue. The article was well received and inspired us to think of another one on some other subject. The answer popped out of the blue. Oshun Layne told us about a Bar Crawl being organized by the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Collective, a social group led by women interested in exploring the community together. So we went along with them. I covered a bar; and other writers went to places they go to regularly or were curious about exploring. Thus we ended up with another collection of short pieces about the varied life that goes on in drinking establishments on and off Nostrand. Each one has its own atmosphere but together they form yet another beautiful mural showing how different people with strong imaginations and drive can do what they want individually but end up with a joint creation that is the result of many talents unconsciously combining together to contribute to a great community.

Super Power 722 Nostrand Avenue

It is easy for a tiki theme to feel kitschy, but that is not the case with Super Power bar located at 722 Nostrand Ave. Whenever I open their menu pamphlet my first thought is, how long did it take them to design this? Look at the backyard, there is a lot of space back there. What do they do with all these plants? How are they serving 6 different oyster options from the east and west coast? (Massachusetts, Prince Edward Island, Rhode Island and Washington State) $1 oyster happy hour Mon-Fri 5pm-8pm.

The headband wearing Volcano mascot is a neon beacon come nightfall on Nostrand Avenue. The price point for the quality of drinks and snacks in unparalleled in North Brooklyn. On a post-Labor Day weekend, I was able to chat with the proprietor, Keith. The conversation quickly turns into a cheer-leading pump up speech regarding how much we love Nostrand Avenue. This is how most of my conversations turn when chatting with proprietors on Nostrand Avenue. When I comprehend how much effort goes into running a commercial space, the resulting experience feels more authentic. I am sitting and enjoying an atmosphere that the owner spent a significant amount of time perfecting. The proprietors running commercial spaces on Nostrand Avenue are the backbone of the community, we cannot take them for granted, and they need our continued support. For the full menu visit superpowerbrooklyn.com.

-- Sam Wood Jr.

Q.s Tavern at 761 Nostrand Avenue

Q.'s Tavern is an old style bar, placed between a medical building and Colina Cuervo cafe; it forms a narrow rectangle with a window and door at the front and a well stocked bar to the left, and a counter running along the right side. As Q.s it has been around for 21 years, and before that it had a similar style as Dugan's run by an Irishman. There were other bars like it, but they all died off over the years, so now Q.'s is the only one left in the neighborhood. The owner is Q. Adonicam. He hails from Panama and opened his version of the bar in 1998. On the wall he has a Certificate of Occupancy from the 1930's for a restaurant. He is acutely aware of the history of Crown Heights and has great respect for it. He describes his bar as a place for people in their forties and older and keeps hours from 4pm to 4am. He is not after the young crowd that works 9-5 and does most of the their serious drinking on Friday and Saturday evening. Q.'s has survived by being innovative. For a while Q. had live music with a band playing near the front door. Billy Dawn, who died only a few months ago, composed dozens and dozens of songs, many for famous singers starting in the 1950's; he played regularly at Q.'s with a small group. Also during the West Indian Day Parade, Q. would put a large speaker outside and play songs from the Islands. For a while he served food, particularly spiced chicken, but most important was maintaining an atmosphere in which people could talk seriously about politics, the neighborhood, changing times, the Caribbean, sports and more. Whatever the formula, the bar has stayed open through good times and bad and allowed Q. to send his two children to college. They have both graduated and are in the midst of successful careers – one as a high school teacher and the other as a supervisor in a business. Q.'s goes on as a place where people can come and tell stories about the past, discuss current events and consider the varied turns of fate, remember life in the islands and update that knowledge with recent visits. The current landlord has worked with Q., but he is 95 so one has to wonder what will come next. Q. is 69, but he is not thinking about retiring anytime soon. Q.'s Tavern is perhaps a way of life; life evolves and there will be changes, but one doesn't retire from life.

– John DeWind

Branch Office

Since its opening in February of 2015, Branch Office has quietly established itself as a friendly drinking spot for the after-work crowd of Crown Heights. It has an old-fashioned vibe without feeling stuffy; most of the wall space is devoted to black and white photographs that capture the family heritage of each owner, but there are also a few pinball machines and Big Buck Hunter tucked away in a back corner. The drinks are affordable and unfussy – ranging from $3 for a can of beer ($7 for drafts) to $12 for one of the more popular cocktails, The Affair (Buenbicho Mezcal, Beefeater Gin, Cucumber-Jalapeno Simple Syrup, and Lime Juice). For your viewing pleasure, check out Movie Night Mondays at 8PM when popcorn is free and drink prices are even more reasonable ($4 for drafts and $9 for cocktails). Before it gets too chilly, be sure to enjoy the spacious backyard; when it gets too chilly, warm yourself up with any of their distinctive hot toddies ($5 on Tuesdays and $11 any other day of the week). Regardless of the season, Branch Office is a reliable source of quality drinks at affordable prices in a laid back atmosphere that deserves your attention.

– Peter Desrochers

UpdatesRobbie Klein