In case you haven't heard, Williamsburg is cool. Like, really cool. Celebrities have migrated there, upscale restaurants have opened throughout the neighborhood and the bar scene—long a highlight of the area—has gotten a whole lot more crowded. The density, quality and variety of drinking spots here now rival that of even the most nightlife-rich Manhattan neighborhood. Spend a long afternoon's journey into night in Williamsburg and you can tour a brewery, sip bison-grass-infused vodka and bowl to live music (although your game might be impaired if that's your last stop). Below we've collected some of the district's best places to drink. Read on and then head out to experience them for yourself.
As befits any nightlife-oriented neighborhood, Williamsburg features plenty of relaxed spots where you can enjoy a cold brew. A few of our favorites follow.
Visit the home and birthplace of Brooklyn Lager. Take a tour, drink at their picnic tables and bring in your own food.
Average price of drinks: Tokens are $5 each, or 5 for $20. (The average beer is one token.)
Day drinkers, take note: Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours on the half hour on Saturdays (1–5pm) and Sundays (1–4pm).
Enjoy a wide array of Belgian beers and other international brews—most by the bottle or can—at this relaxed hangout, equipped with a large outdoor garden that's open year-round.
Average price of drinks: $7–10 for draft beer, $7 and up for bottles and cans
Speak of the devil: Though its origins and meaning are in dispute, the term Spuyten Duyvil was cited by Washington Irving in his 1809 book Knickerbocker History, referring to a Dutch trumpeter who planned a risky swim to avoid British soldiers “in spite of the devil.” These days it's better known as the name of a neighborhood in the Bronx.
Bonus: Radegast Hall & Biergarten is a lively Austro-Hungarian bar that's perfect for big groups, or anyone who loves pretzels and mustard.
While cocktail dens have proliferated across the five boroughs, Williamsburg seems to have developed a special affinity for them. The neighborhood's trendy spots feature welcoming vibes and decent prices.
This sophisticated bar a block from the water is defined by its airy space, grown-up ambience and tiki-esque libations. Swing by for nightly happy hours, weekend DJs or anytime for standout tacos.
Average price of drinks: $13 for a cocktail
Already a legend: The drinks menu includes iconography that summarizes each drink.
It's not actually in a hotel, but this upscale bar oozes old NYC with vintage-style decor and seasonal drinks that riff off the classics.
Average price of drinks: $13 for a cocktail
Buddy system: This watering hole is owned by the same people as Union Pool (see "Music and dance" below).
Night of Joy
This popular joint serves an eclectic selection of concoctions—house-infused liquors include vodka with bison grass alongside jalapeño and black currant tequila—in a cozy living room setting.
Average price of drinks: $12 for a cocktail
A view from the top: Frozen margaritas made from fresh ingredients are served on the roof patio in the spring, summer and fall.
Bonus: The Shanty, an industrial yet cozy bar with exposed brick walls and warm lighting, is attached to the New York Distilling Company—so you'll know the provenance of most of the spirits.
The key qualifications of a dive: a fun crowd, cheap drinks and a genuinely understated atmosphere. These spots have all three.
Charleston makes your dreams a reality: its generous happy hour goes from noon until 8pm and comes with free pizza for every drink you order. Along with beer and shot specials, there's a jukebox and a few Skee-Ball lanes.
Average price of drinks: $5 for draft beer
You can have pizza anytime: Even when it's not happy hour, the personal pizzas cost just $1.
The crowd skews younger and trendier at this large, hipster-heavy rock bar that serves a variety of hot dogs, including the Coney (topped with Detroit-style chili, raw onion and yellow mustard) and the Bibimbap (with kimchi, sesame spinach and fried quail egg)—excellent foils for the "drunchies."
Average price of drinks: $6 for draft beer, $8 for a cocktail
Rock of (bever)ages: Owned by Brooklyn indie rockers the Rogers Sisters.
Turkey's Nest Tavern
It doesn't get more divey than this 35-year-old bar on the edge of McCarren Park. The drinks are large, strong and cheap, if not original.
Average price of drinks: $6 for a 32-ounce Bud, $14 for an oversize margarita
They like big cups, and they cannot lie: The Turkey's Nest served drinks in giant Styrofoam cups for years until the City banned their use—a ban that was subsequently overturned (so the tradition lives on, though with eco-friendly options too).
Music and dance
Whether you want to bust a move to top-40 hits in a cellar, shimmy to Latin tunes at street level or rock out in the open air, Williamsburg will provide the beats.
The drinks will help loosen you up at this tropical space where Latin music, live bands and dancing take center stage.
Average price of drinks: $10 for a cocktail
What goes around: Bembe's decor makes generous use of found and recycled objects from around the City.
This longstanding hipster-friendly spot has a patio open year-round, an El Diablo taco truck and frequent live concerts.
Average price of drinks: $7 for draft beer
Liquid assets: The space is a former pool supply store.
The Whiskey Brooklyn
For those who want to feel like they're back in a fraternity basement, the Whiskey Brooklyn offers the right ingredients: young, boisterous revelers dancing to throwback tunes spun by late-night DJs.
Average price of drinks: $10 for a cocktail, $10 for a beer and a shot
Fun factory: The Whiskey resides in an old tonic water factory, and its booths, bar top, DJ booth and back bar are handmade by Rick Crisp.
If you love pairing drinking with other activities, there are plenty of Williamsburg bars for you. Here are three of the best.
Ramp up the nostalgia by playing old-school video games like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man at this bar that's spawned a mini chain; it combines classic arcade cabinets with a wide variety of American craft beer.
Average price of drinks: $6 for draft beer
Fame and fortune: Barcade keeps a list of the high scores from each game on its website (well played, "Joshua L").
This place rocks and rolls: visitors can bowl, listen to live music and drink at the 20,000-square-foot space that serves food by Blue Ribbon.
Average price of drinks: $8 for draft beer
Strike a blow for the environment: Brooklyn Bowl was the first bowling alley specifically built for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
Videology Bar & Cinema
Video rental stores are hard to come by nowadays, and video rental stores with a bar are even rarer. This celluloid-loving tavern also offers a screening room.
Average price of drinks: $10–12 for a cocktail
No pause button: Videology plays movies in the bar "all day and night."