Once just a big swath of land across the bridge from “the city,” Brooklyn has become not only its own city, but its own brand. Like the terms “Paris” or “Manhattan,” mean something to people who have never been to Paris or Manhattan, “Brooklyn” has come to mean something too. It’s vintage Edison bulbs and exposed brick, bearded residents, artisanal chutneys and hipster butchers—all of which can be conjured in the mind’s eye at the drop of the word.
At times, the self-styled Brooklyn is nearly a caricature of itself—an urban-pastoral fairy tale almost creepy in its endeavor to rose-color the world. But Brooklyn is much more than the stereotype (we are a population of 2.5 million, after all). Yes, there is the cheap beer swilling set served by a rich and persistent scene of dive bars, low-key hideouts and neighborhood joints. And yes, there are the urban-pastoral fantasy appropriators with their farmhouse tables, wine served in mason jars and reclaimed everything. But there are also blue-collar immigrants, artists, intellectuals and, yes, a growing number of pub-going parents with expensive strollers, arriving on weekends to balance a pint in one hand and a baby bottle in the other.
While Brooklyn the adjective has spurred an influx of new, moneyed residents and rising real estate prices, the borough has still managed to balance the new with the old. In nearly every neighborhood—no matter its subway stop location—there is at least one bastion of new-era Brooklyn shaking cocktails with housemade syrups, popping corks on small-production wines and slinging pints from local breweries. Brooklyn is even leading the charge with a rash of distilleries and a couple of wineries of its own. It’s just a matter of hopping on a train and seeking them out.
But if you know where to look—and what you’re looking for is an escape from the future—you’ll also find everything from an old blue grass joint to crusty pubs. From the century-old Irish bar in Windsor Terrace to the expensive hotel restaurant in Williamsburg to the stately cocktail joint in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn’s establishments have driven a sea-change of style the world over. So much so that even Manhattan wants a piece.