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Friday
Nov092012

FiPS' Ultimate 5th Ave South Bar Crawl 

While not all side effects of the ever-expanding boundaries of Park Slope are desirable, one happy consequence is a wide-range of new drinking establishments. We here at FiPS, ever your companions in boozing-it-up, are super enthusiastic about all the drinking happening on 5th Avenue and, in particular, all of the new watering holes that have opened up in South Slope over the last few years. On any random night it's possible to walk into one of the quality bars on that strip and not find yourself surrounded by a million douchebags. Score!

With this in mind, we -- FiPS' own drinking experts Daniel & Shawn -- have put together a TOTALLY EPIC SOUTH SLOPE BAR CRAWL, starting at 14th Street and working all the way down to 23rd. On this short strip, one can hit at least 10 bars, each with something unique to offer. We attempted the entire crawl on a recent Friday night, but our livers and wallets protested enough that we eventually had to give up. However, we bet some of our readers are ready for the challenge:


1. Prospect (545 5th Ave) - The newest addition to the 5th Avenue bar line-up is pretty outstanding. The interior is almost entirely dark wood with a range of tables, chairs, booths, and benches. The bar has a pretty nice selection of whiskeys, and there's an excellent selection of rotating beers on tap. We aren't certain that the bar itself offers anything particularly unique in terms of ambiance, but there was a princess-themed birthday party at the large table in the back during our visit. Thank god for Brooklyn women and their crazy birthday parties. The backyard is also nice -- there are a lot of picnic tables, but amidst all the concrete we wish there had been a little bit more greenery going on.


2. Der Kommissar (559 5th Ave) - When it comes to Austrian exports, it's sort of a mixed bag (see: Mozart, Schwarzenegger, Hitler). But Der Kommissar, which pairs twenty-or-so local & European beers with Austrian street food (brats, pretzels and the like), is DEFINITELY better than Hitler. The vibe's pretty chill, with a long bar and a few tables complemented by edgy artwork. Although beer and food are both good, we'd recommend trying to grab one of the back tables. We've found that the long, narrow bar area tends to inhibit conversation with anyone other than the people to your immediate left and right.

Photo via Jim Lane

3. Black Horse Pub (568 5th Ave) - To us, this place feels like the biggest bar on the crawl, which is probably attributable to the high ceilings and plethora of television screens. As far as bars go, it's pretty run-of-the-mill: decent beer selection, standard liquors, and bar food. It can get a little bit loud inside, but we like it because the size of the place means it never seems to feel too crowded.


4. Buttermilk Bar (577 5th Ave) - Buttermilk is possibly the oldest establishment on this crawl (Shawn's been going there since he moved to Brooklyn 11 ½ years ago). We attribute the bar's longevity to the atmosphere. Sure the exterior of the place has morphed through a number of looks before settling on its current, brick-faced incarnation, but it still has that same darkly-lit and friendly atmosphere. Although the selection's never that adventurous, we appreciate that they've got mostly local beers on tap. Unfortunately, it tends to get crowded on weekends, so go early and avoid the crowds (especially on New Year's Eve).


5. Freddy‘s (627 5th Ave) - When the original Freddy's closed its doors to make way for Barclays Center, Prospect Heights lost a 70-year-old watering hole. While nothing will ever compensate for this great injustice, the new Freddy's is pretty great. They've got cheap eats, cheap beer, and a back room for small events. We also like that this place feels as though it's filled with locals. We recommend hanging around until about 3 AM on weekends to really get the full, local treatment.


6. South (629 5th Ave) -
The two most important things you need to know about South: their happy hour ends at 9 PM, and they serve free popcorn. So drink all the PBRs you want before 9. (They're only 2 bucks!) So what if the popcorn is straight out of a Key Foods bag? It's totally addictive anyway. Otherwise, South is pretty nothin special. The vibe is that of a faux-grungy dive bar (Freddy's does it better), and the backyard is nice, if unmemorable (Sea Witch and Quarter Bar both do that better).


7. Quarter Bar (676 5th Ave) - While both of us have lived within a block of Quarter for extended periods of time, we've only been there maybe four times between us. From the street the place looks TINY, but there's actually a huge backyard area that’s at least three times the size of the indoor space. Sure that'll do you no good once the cold weather kicks in, but for the rest of the year it's sort of a hidden, outdoor oasis. Their beer selection is decent, if pricey, and they're actually one of the few bars on this crawl that has a cocktail menu. Plus, they've got munchies from D.U.B. Pies. Overall, it's not our first choice on 5th Ave, but it's not bad at all.


8. Sea Witch (703 5th Ave) - We heart Sea Witch. Tasty burgers and clam rolls aside, there are always at least a half-dozen rotating craft beers that we love on tap and another dozen or so that range from good enough to inoffensive. The backyard, with its miraclous koi pond, is basically the pinnacle of outdoor drinking, but we actually like sitting at the bar. From there we can observe the fish and see which ones have croaked since our last visit. Bonus: The music runs the gamut from Johnny Cash to punk to AC/DC, upping the chances for rocking out whilst imbibing.


9. Mary‘s (708 5th Ave) - Before Mary's opened on the southwest corner of 22nd and 5th, that location was home to Smoelen's, a dive bar to put all other dive bars to shame (so many Corona parrots in the place, they could have started an aviary). Mary's kept the pool table and replaced everything else. The lights are dim at Mary's, and the vibe is low key. It's also probably the prettiest, with tin ceilings and a gorgeous bar of dark wood. We recommend it for first dates or as just a chill place to relax after work.

10. Bar 718 (718 5th Ave) - Bar 718 holds the distinction of being the last bar on 5th Ave before you hit the power plant/cemetery portion of the street. Inside it's pretty unassuming and extremely narrow. That said, it does have a foosball table in the back. During one visit we chanced upon their cheap drink night (Wednesdays) - we appreciate a $3 pint whenever possible. There's really nothing spectacular here, but it's got a nice neighborhood feel that we're fond of. The bartenders are friendly and helpful, as well. So check this place out if that's the vibe you're looking for.

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