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Mar 23, 2010 01:24 PM

Brooklyn Beer Bars Part 6 - Double Windsor.

Last year right around this time I reviewed a number of Brooklyn beer bars.

Well, March has come around again and it seems like a good time to hit some more.

I prepared for the evening by having a pilsner at Smolen and a plate of excellent pork goulash at nearby Milan's.

Then it was on to the Double Windsor.

The Double Windsor is located in Windsor Terrace, adjacent to Park Slope but worlds apart. The Terrace is grittier – there are way fewer posers but that comes at a price. In a one block radius I passed a beggar asking for loose change and a fat toothless man riding a Jazzy. The bar itself is located diagonally across the street from Farrell’s, the notorious hell pit famous for serving Budweiser in Styrofoam cups and it’s frequent fights. (The two are not unrelated.)

But I don’t hold Farrell’s against Windsor Terrace. It’s really a fine and safe place. A nice antidote to the preciousness of Park Slope.

The DW struck me as a cross between a British pub and a California style bar. A generous U-shaped bar was flanked by long tables on two sides. There’s a wide planked floor, the walls are exposed brick, and the French doors along two of the walls looked like they could be opened up as the weather got warmer. As it was the late March weather was unseasonably pleasant and the front doors were opened wide. There was a plant behind the bar near the cash register. That’s California for you.

There was a single TV tuned to a black and white movie on Turner Classics. The implied message was “This Ain’t No Sports Bar.”

The two bartenders were young and efficient and I had no problem getting drinks when I wanted them.

The Crowd
On the Friday I was there the crowd was in their 20s and 30s; I had the feeling they were mainly locals. Nice people. There was plenty of noise but no shouting.

Rolling Stones, the Pogues. The Zombies. The Yardbirds. The Kinks. Did I mention this place had the vibe of a British pub? I swear I figured that out before I heard the music.

A friend of mine has this theory that rock and roll hasn’t advanced over the last 30 years. The fact that a room full of people in their 20s was happily listening to this stuff makes me think he’s right.

The Beers
There were 13 craft beers on tap along with one tap for Guinness. Why waste one? It’s not hard to get a pint of Guinness at most bars around the city. But I’m quibbling.

There was a printed beer list with short descriptions of each beer. I see more and more places doing this rather than simply listing the beers on a hard to read chalk board. I like this trend – it helps to figure out what you want when confronted with 7 or 8 new beers.

I started with a Wolaver’s IPA from Vermont. This was medium in complexity and not wildly overhopped. Pleasant enough but I would probably pick something else if I was going to have a few.

Next was a Racer 5 from Bear Republic. On the list it was billed as “a floral and aromatic English style ale” and while there was a bit of truth in that I thought it read better than it tasted. Too much floral and not enough English enough to suit me.

To be fair, I liked what I had just fine and considering that were 11 other beers on tap I easily could have found more appealing choices if I’d kept at it.

Extra Points
The Double Windsor serves food. Although the menu isn’t on line what I saw seemed appealing in a pub food type of way. A sign advertised “house made beef jerky,” a reminder that I was in Brooklyn where artisanal charcuterie is the order of the day.

I’ll bet this place would be perfect for a pint or three on a leisurely summer Sunday afternoon. I wonder if I could persuade them to turn on a baseball game if we kept the sound off.

The Double Windsor
210 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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  1. Nice review, Bob - next trip, get your hands around some Green Flash West Coast IPA which has made it to DW recently. Then chow down on the special and filling grilled cheese or Buffalo Chicken sandwich - great value, especially during Happy Hour.

    I'm hoping they add a fish sandwich to the card - grilled salmon or catfish preferred.

    1. Thanks, Bob, for the ace reportage... again! I probably haven't said it enough. However, while we've certainly seen some great new beers recently, doesn't mean we're getting rid of the old. There's just more to love! Same goes with the music. I'm old like beer, but I can tell you there's some decent new stuff, certainly within the past 30 years (which would put us back to 1980, not 1966 btw)!

      1. Wonderful review. I'm glad to see this series up and running again.

        As much as I'd like to hit up this bar, geography (i'm deep in the heart of Queens) and circumstances (a 3 year-old who nevertheless digs The Who) make an imminent visit unlikely. Nevertheless, your write-up put me there. When the kid's old enough to embibe - I'll give him another year or so - we'll drive on over and crank up the jukebox.

        You do owe it to yourself to hit up O' Connors. It's a beautiful, old bar, complete with tile floors, a great mix of music on the juke (a touch of Sinatra, rock, Nat King Cole and John Lee Hooker) and a genuine, old-school phone booth. Back when I lived in the neighborhood, this was my bar of choice, and it was always pretty much empty on a Friday or Saturday. I used to wonder how the hell they stayed afloat. It had a surreal atmosphere to it - think Chas. Bukowski by way of David Lynch. The joint was dead quiet, except for the occasional Sinatra tune on the juke, and some of the regulars were so motionless, you could tip them off their stools with one finger and they wouldn't notice. They looked like paper cutouts. But it was always a great place for a cheap beer. I have since heard that the place is packed on weekend evenings with a young set. My most recent visit was on a late Spring day, about 4 years back. I had walked over the Manhattan Bridge from Chinatown, and was looking to wet my whistle before heading home. This was in the middle of the day, and the place was near empty, save for a few nice, very well-behaved and friendly customers. The bartender was nice and laid-back as ever, very gracious and not overly talkative. I can't speak for the joint during more busy hours - it might be a completely different proposition - but this is still a wonderful, old watering hole.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Polecat

          That's a great snapshot of O'Connor's. I actually have been there but only once, about 3 years ago. The atmosphere was exactly as you described. There is no BS to the place - it's an honest old fashioned bar.

          I still have to write up Draft Barn which was part of last Friday's tour. Next month I plan to revisit a couple of places in Williamsburg. I did a scouting expedition back in February and, hipsters aside, I was pretty impressed with the lineup.

          Draft Barn
          530 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

        2. 1. Thanks for the review. Overall I think that it was helpful.

          2. I really don't see why you have to knock Farrell's. What's the point? It might not be your type of bar, but it is what it is and, judging from its long term popularity, it certainly is a lot of people's cup of tea.

          4 Replies
          1. re: StheJ

            A bar doesn't have to be fancy for me to like it. On this thread I said nice things about Smolen and O'Connor's. I just draw the line at a place that has so many fights that they don't trust the patrons with real glasses.

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              I lived in Windsor Terrace 88-04, went to Farrels many times and never saw a fight there. What I did see on more than one occasion was a bartender checking the temperature of the Budweiser which was the only beer they served back then, no stools at the bar back then either. And beer was served in glass at the bar. You left your money on the bar and your glass was refilled until you told them to stop. The big 32oz styrofoam containers were more for folks to consume outside on the sidewalk.

              1. re: nychas

                I remember seeing five taps with a smidgeon more variety: Budweiser, BUD, Budweiser, Budweiser & BUD.

              2. re: Bob Martinez

                I usually get a glass as well, unless I want to go outside... Honestly, I've never seen a fight there... not to say that there may not be fights, but half the guys in there are cops/firemen.

            2. I went here last night for the first time -- really enjoyed it. The pinot grigio was $5 and just fine, the pork sandwich was quite tasty and had chipotle mayo and the greens were fresh and lightly dressed. The atmosphere was laid back, the music enjoyable and not intrusive, and there was a nice crowd but it wasn't crowded. I'll be back!