I never wanted to find the bar where everybody knows your name. In fact, I don’t think such a place exists outside the type of small towns where everybody knows your name because you’re one of only a few hundred people that reside there.
Regardless, there are those New York bars that you can still feel some semblance of ownership because of how much they seem like part of your personality. Such a place exists in Windsor Terrace—a place I’m partial to, not only because it’s a four-minute walk from my house, but because it’s the bar I’ve always dreamed about frequenting.
You don’t see the kind of painfully hip 22-year-old doofuses ordering an Aperol Spritz for the sole purpose of an Instagram flex.
It’s called the Adirondack, which I think would be a little too on the nose if this were a TV show about a neighborhood dive bar in Brooklyn in 2019. Steps from the Fort Hamilton subway stop and nary a block away from a French restaurant, the Adirondack is exactly where you want it to be.
The inside of the place is about the size of the Bushwick apartments patrons of the bar likely lived in when they first moved to New York. The crowd is older and refreshingly less infuriating than those that frequent spots like Rocka Rolla (i.e., ironic dive bars), making navigating within Adirondack especially stress-free. Sure, you’ll run into the occasional rowdy jackass trying to make flirty small talk with the bartender, but you don’t see the type of painfully hip 22-year-old doofuses ordering an Aperol Spritz for the sole purpose of an Instagram flex. (Full transparency: I don’t mind a nice Aperol Spritz every once in a while.)
Practically unknown outside the area, the Adirondack is still a hidden gem in a neighborhood where good bars are sparse and good dive bars are even harder to find. Up the street you have a cop bar, Rhythm & Booze, and down in Ditmas Park there’s the other cop bar, Shenanigans. There’s no exclusivity nor assumptions within the Adirondack, just a good mix of South Brooklynites—natives and transplants—who mingle with the familiarity of friends from college.
Unlike bars on Brooklyn’s north side, the Adirondack operates without a hint of irony, but, boy, do they do it right: low lights, tiny tables, cute bartenders, loud music, and a rotating array of craft brews to appease the beer snobs and normies alike. OK, yes, there are ironic-seeming upstate scenes painted on a couple of walls, but who doesn’t love to gaze upon a deer in the woods once in a while? Even better, the Adirondack embraces being a no-nonsense dive. There’s nothing you don’t need and everything you want all at once: pretzels, panini, mixed olives, and a $3 pickle the size of a soda can.
There’s no stigma behind ordering the “right” or “wrong” drink here, alleviating any pressure for those who love a simple light beer, vodka Red Bull, or well whiskey on the rocks. At the same time, there are enough craft beers and top-shelf liquors available for the kinds of nights deserving of quality or quantity.
While I don’t particularly care about the bartenders learning my name or knowing my order off the top of their head, I will say that I have a place at the bar—a seat I consider my special spot, where I can relax with a drink and reflect on my day. Everyone should have a bar like the Adirondack, one that personifies comfort without sacrificing quality.
There are Adirondacks everywhere, metaphorically speaking—bars that thousands of people can claim as their own even though thousands of folks are doing the same every day. The Adirondack may not be yours, and maybe you don’t care for the general concept of a dive bar. For me, though, everything about this unassuming spot spells comfort: the music, the lighting, the decor, the drinks, and the patrons. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be on a weekend—or, let’s face it, weekday—evening and no better way to let off the steam that builds up from a long day at work. That’s not just because it’s a four-minute walk from my house—but it helps.