Red Hook, NY, Guide (1/52)

The first-timers guide to Red Hook, Brooklyn  

Other than that trip to Ikea that everybody takes when they first move to NYC, we’re embarrassed to admit that we hadn’t previously spent any real time in Red Hook. We know, we know, we’re terrible excuses for New Yorkers, and evidently totally unqualified to be giving anyone travel inspo. It’s not that we hadn’t heard great things, we just had some (totally) misplaced notion that it was a major pain to get to. What we discovered, and what everybody else probably already knew, was some of the best food, distilleries, shopping, galleries, views, and aimless wandering that New York has to offer. So for those of you who’ve never been, or for those of you in need of an excuse to revisit, here’s our Red Hook guide for a perfect day out…..Assuming of course that you’re willing to consume more calories than you thought humanly possible and ride (or sail) home totally drunk.

(This itinerary is totally doable without a bike, but it helps, so allow some extra time between things if you don’t have one)

9am Crossing the bridge into Red Hook

If you’re feeling energetic – and given what you’re about to consume we’d highly recommend it – hop on a bike, pedal over the Brooklyn Bridge (those views!), and link up with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway which will carry you all the way along the rapidly gentrifying waterfront to Red Hook. If you’re lacking wheels or feeling lazy, you can catch the (first) 11:30am ferry from Pier 11.

10am Coffee and Shopping in Red Hook

Your first stop should be to get caffeinated at the Black Flamingo.  Grab a seat on the cute patio outback and soak in some rays. If you’re feeling peckish the almond croissants are on point, or head next store for something more extravagant at Baked.

The spine of Redhook is Van Brunt street, and it’s flanked with shops designed for weekend ambling:  Chock full of things you definitely don’t need, but will probably want. Be warned, if you’re lacking in self-discipline you’ll likely come home with enough scented candles to turn your apartment into the Vatican. Some of our favorites (in order of when you’ll hit them) were, the delightfully bougie cheese boards at Brooklyn Slate Co; the incredible (and relatively reasonably priced) vintage jewelry at Eerie Basin; pretty much everything in Foxy & Winston; and Wooden Sleepers for Men’s vintage.

11:45am Hometown BBQ, Red Hook

If you like BBQ, happen to have an Instagram account, or aren’t a total recluse, you’ve likely heard of this place. No superlatives will do it justice. It’s just that good. And if you’re there before 12 you’ll likely beat the hordes of gluttons waiting in line for an hour for their fill of smoky deliciousness. Everything and anything on the menu is exquisite. Be sure to wash it all down with their ludicrously good Bloody Mary dressed with Caramelized Bacon. Easily one of the best meals in a city that isn’t exactly short on options. Billy Durney truly is a pit master.

1pm Red Hook Galleries

Across the road from Hometown is the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, a 25,000 square foot gallery housed in a gorgeously renovated Civil War-era warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront. Even if art isn’t your thing, the stunning views of Lady Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge make it a worthwhile visit. Check their website as they sometimes have an afternoon lineup of acoustic acts which was an added bonus.

2:15pm Bourbon, Rum, and Chocolate at Cacao Prieto 

The Dominican alchemists behind one of our favorite Bourbons – Widow Jane – do a pretty good tasting of their offerings, liquid and solids, housed in another beautifully renovated old warehouse. They offer an hour long Chocolate Factory and Distillery tour for $20 – which we didn’t do – that they recommend booking in advance. Either way, you’ll want to linger for a drink at their café where the old world décor will leave you feeling like you’ve time travelled in Havana.

3:30pm Defining first world problems: More art or more chocolate?

Decisions decisions. Check ahead to see if any of the exhibitions at Pioneer Works take your fancy. Or just poke your head in to marvel at another (you guessed it) 25,000sqft warehouse/gallery conversion. Alternatively, head to Raaka Chocolate. You’ve likely seen their distinctive and delicious bean to bar offerings in shops around New York. They offer factory tours (around their beautiful 25,000sqft warehouse of course) on weekends at 12pm (45mins, $10) or you can indulge in a 2hour long chocolate making class (2pm or 5pm, for $50). We’ll likely be back sometime to do the latter but on this occasion we just gouged on samples and bought a couple of bars (Ghost Pepper and Bourbon) for the road.

5pm Van Brunt Still House, Red Hook

We came for a tour and stayed for the cocktails. Hard to say which was better. Tours leave on the hour for $10 and in addition to getting a pretty informative and up-close view of the distillation process from a passionate staff member, you get to taste the various spirits (Rye, Whiskey, Single Malt, Bourbon) as you move around the distillery. Small batch, locally sourced, locally distilled, craft, farm-to-bottle, artisanal, are the buzzwords here, but when the drinks taste this darn good, they’re entitled to buzz away.

Post tour (or worth a visit in and of itself) you’ll hit the tasting room. Bedecked with reclaimed wood and adorned with all sorts of brewing paraphernalia it oozes that quintessentially Brooklyn vibe. The cocktail menu incorporates the full range of their whiskeys, reach for the killer Old Fashioned or just submit to the bartender’s choice. Okay, fine, the cocktails edged it.

Protip: LivingSocial often runs promotions that include a drink at the bar with the purchase of a tour.

7pm Brooklyn Crab, Red Hook

If all that drinking made you hungry, or if all that drinking made you even more thirsty, head over to the Brooklyn Crab. Yes it’s kind of a scene, and filled with frat bros. But hey it’s summer and they have killer views from the roof.   If you’re all about the food check out the Red Hook lobster pound instead. You’ll never guess what their specialty is.

9pm Leaving Red Hook

Catch that last (9pm) ferry back to NY, wave goodbye to Lady Liberty as Red Hook recedes into the distance and the lights of Lower Manhattan come into focus.….Or don’t, go hard at legendary Sunnys Bar which has been inebriating hardy patrons since 1890, and then cycle home (once you’ve sobered up of course – 52weekendsNY would never condone operating a bicycle while intoxicated). If Red Hook’s hard to get to, it’s harder still to leave.

No Comments

Leave a Comment