A new chapter has opened in Drinking Liberally’s rapidly expanding social network empire, and it is in downtown Brooklyn.
For Brooklyn’s left-leaning socialites looking to gather in the warmth of a cozy bar and gossip about the issues of the day, it comes not a moment too soon.
On the first and third Tuesday of every month, Drinking Liberally hosts a three-hour social club at the 4th Avenue Pub (76 Fourth Ave., Boerum Hill) that is open to the public. Co-chairs Josh Bolotsky, Jennifer Suh, Jen Johnson, and Brian Sonenstein formed the chapter in October 2009 and abouttwenty people have been dropping in for a drink the past few meetings.
“It’s a very accessible bar with a low barrier to entry, it has cheap drinks and perfectly adequate seating for folks, which is conducive for having a conversation with each other,” said Bolotsky, National Programs Coordinator for Living Liberally and Brooklyn resident. “They also play Belle and Sebastian which I am fully in support of.”
Founded in 2003, Drinking Liberally defines itself as an “inclusive progressive social group” that gives “like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics”. With 342 chapters nationwide, including the original located at Rudy’s Bar in Hells Kitchen, Drinking Liberally members rarely had a reason to venture into Brooklyn, with chapters in Williamsburg and Park Slope becoming inactive over the past two years.
Drinking Liberally founder Justin Krebs, who recently moved to Brooklyn, was optimistic that more people would come to meet-ups and events that the group will sponsor.
“This is a great chapter,” said Krebs. “It doesn’t have potential, it has reached it’s potential. It’s happening.”
At 7 pm, the co-chairs gathered around two tables, chatting with friends about health care policy, the mayor’s inauguration ceremony, and reactions to the movie, Avatar. By 8:30 pm, a crowd of 16 had formed with multiple lively conversations echoing across the room.
At one table, Jen Johnson conversed with friends about the challenges of community organizing and raising money during a recession, just a few steps from several Working Families Party organizers who were enmeshed in their own conversation about Council committee chairs and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s ideas for improving that office.
Brooklyn residents Franz Hartl and Charles Lenchner were pleased that a Drinking Liberally chapter formed in their neighborhood, though they said they would continue to go to DL events in Manhattan.
“It creates a social space where ideas can rise organically and a lot of different programs can come out of these informal gatherings,” said Hartl.
Lenchner was especially happy that Krebs joined them for one of their early happy hours.
“Very few alcoholics have created a career around alcohol. The guy who founded Alcoholic’s Anonymous and Justin,” said Lenchner.
Drinking Liberally’s Brooklyn chapter meets every first and third Tuesday at the Fourth Avenue Pub, 76 Fourth Ave., from 7 pm to 10 pm. Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome. For more information, visit http://livingliberally.org/drinking/chapters/NY/nyc.