Greetings once again friends. If you’re just joining us, our names are Jackson and Graham and when our powers combine we create the super duper, cheese pull fighting team, The Brothers Buoy. We partnered with our forever pals at The Brooklyn Bike Company to bring you some one of a kind, field tested day guides which are scientifically proven to provide maximum enjoyment for you and your two-wheeled friend. If you like what you read here, be sure to check out our previous guide to the lovely hood that we call home, Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
For today’s guide, we’re whisking you off to Red Hook - a weathered and off the beaten path neighborhood in south Brooklyn. We love Red Hook because of its beautiful cobblestone streets, unmatched views of the Statue of Liberty, and seaside vibes (even though it’s on a river). Now while your life is absolutely your own, and we would never take away your right as an American to make your own decisions, the intention of this guide is to follow it step by step. We have returned countless times to Red Hook, and top scientists at Columbia University agree that the progression of this guide is essential to experience the maximum level of happiness. Additionally, to get the true full experience of the day, you should head down there on a Saturday.
So, grab your wheels and follow the Buoys. It’s time to ride around Red Hook.
There is literally no better way to start your day than with the brisk sea (river) air in your face. With a totally revamped fleet of ships, an expanded list of ports and bike storage right on the boat, hopping on the ferry is a great way to shave a few miles off the ride down to Red Hook. If you download the ferry app, you can check out the best point to get scooped up, and with docks from Queens to the Rockaways, you can surely find a spot to hop on near you.
Hop off the ferry at the dock in DUMBO and get ready to pedal. This being a bike guide, we gotta build in at least a little exercise. The bike path from DUMBO is just over three miles, and takes you from gorgeous riverfront views to the industrial ship yards that line the western edge of Red Hook. It can be a bit treacherous for the first leg, as you dodge pedestrians who ignore the “bikes only” signs, but once you get past the waterfront portion, it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way.
PRO TIP: If you wanna cut out the pedestrian traffic entirely, head down Furman street, which will lead you down to Red Hook as well. Just know you’re missing some serious views.
Brunch has arrived. Chain up your wheels at the bike parking right out front, head inside and let the seaside vibes wash over you. Fort Defiance (@fortdefiance) has a fantastic menu of southern-inspired food and delicious cocktails that are sure to leave you wishing that you packed a bed in your bike crate. If you’re lucky (and weather permitting), you can grab one of their four outdoor bar seats to catch some sun as you grub down. The Sumo Collins is a fantastic drink recommendation for the brave and the huevos rancheros really can’t be beat.
Just a stone’s throw from Fort Defiance lies a fabulous little clothing store full of awesome vintage finds and locally made accessories. Browsing the shelves at Wooden Sleepers (@woodensleepers) is like finding a box full of your parent’s old clothes in the attic, but literally everything inside is amazing. It’s a great place to do a little shopping while the biscuits you inevitably got at Fort Defiance are digesting.
In our opinion, this place alone is worth the whole trip down to Red Hook. Stepping through the doors of the Brooklyn Ice House (@brooklyn_icehouse) is like a portal to a time where hanging out with friends meant laughing over a beer, not sitting around a table with your faces buried in your cell phones. This is a great spot to get some serious local Red Hook color, and you’ll watch as hours melt away in their spacious backyard between games of Connect Four, baskets of wings or a Frito pie and $2 Miller High Lifes.
Widow Jane (@widow_jane), one of the finest whiskeys around, has their distillery headquartered right near the water in Red Hook. They obviously have their delicious, velvety spirits for sale, but really this place is on our list for the tasting flights. For just $8, you can sample 3 of their fabulous whiskeys and 2 rums (including a chocolate one which must be tasted to be believed). After you wet your whistle, take a walk to the back of the facility, where they have a garden which, for some reason, is full of peacocks, chickens and various other birds which have no business hanging out at a distillery.
Sampling some booze is great, but having it mixed in a fabulous cocktail is obviously even better. Botanica (@botanica_bk), located right next door to the Widow Jane, is well known for its creative mixed concoctions, with every spirit you can imagine represented. Pick a cocktail from their extensive list, kick back while you take in the interior reminiscent of old Havana, and watch and the early evening light casts a soft orange glow over the cobblestones.
A break from the booze is probably necessary at this point if you’re still going to pedal your way out of Red Hook later. So, as the sun gets closer to the horizon, make your way over to Steve’s Key Lime Pie (@steveskeylimepie) for a little pre-dinner sweet treat. This pie is the fabric from which the best dreams are sewn. You can choose from several variations, but we have to recommend the frozen pie pops – a mini key lime pie on a stick, dipped in either chocolate or a white chocolate/raspberry combo. From the moment you take the first bite, your life will be then measured in “before pie” and “after pie.”
If you guys read our last guide, you know that we are a big fan of the perfect sunset, and in Red Hook, the place to catch that is at the end of the pier at Louis Valentino Jr. Park. The views of Manhattan, Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty from this park are unmatched, and it’s a great place to recharge after the long day you have had, because your night is just getting started.
A quick caveat before we get into this spot: you should probably go here before you go get Key Lime Pie and put your name in for a reservation. This spot fills up quick and if you head there after the park you’ll be waiting for an hour+ to get a table. The Good Fork (@goodfork) is a wonderfully cozy restaurant with an interior reminiscent of an old train car and a stunning, candle lit back yard. Their mix of classic American and Korean food hits all the right notes, and their cocktail list isn’t half bad either. Be sure and soak in the relaxed vibe at The Good Fork, as is a near perfect counterpart to the raucous final spot on our list.
Sunny’s bar (@sunnysredhook) is nothing short of a New York legend. Opened in its current form since the early 1990’s, the neighborhood institution is currently under threat of demolition, as members of the owner’s family are trying to sell it to build high rise condos. That being said, any chance you get to spend an evening there is precious, as its future is so uncertain. This is the dive bar to beat all dive bars. Cheap beers, high energy, long bathroom lines, a backyard packed with smokers and history literally carved into the walls. Sunny’s is holding on with an iron grip to the past, clinging to a feeling of old New York like few other bars have been able to do. And if you took our advice and came here on a Saturday, you should be arriving just as the weekly Bluegrass jam is beginning in the back room. This pop up concert goes on until 4am and has a cast of musicians rotating throughout the massive jamboree all night. The room at times fills with so many musicians that you will find yourself sitting with a banjo at your front and a fiddle to your back as the band erupts into the chorus to Will the Circle be Unbroken. It is an experience that you will never forget, and it will have you humming bluegrass the whole bike ride home.
Hey, so that’s it guys. Congratulations on making it through another certified, blue ribbon, Brothers Buoy bike day. We truly hope that you enjoyed yourself, whether you followed this guide to a T, or you chose your own way around Red Hook. And as always, be sure to say hey over on Instagram at @thebrothersbuoy!
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