Pool queue

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Behold, the local miracle: the Red Hook Pool, a magnificent, sprawling body of water on Bay Street that is an oasis for Brooklynites during the Saharan summer days.

Absurdly and sadistically, though, the Parks Department allows this treasure — and every other city pool — to remain idle throughout the molten days of early summer, finally opening on June 28.

So with another pool-less four weeks ahead of us, GO Brooklyn offers a list of places where you can find respite from the sweltering temperatures and pustulant aromas of spring.

The Gowanus Yacht Club

This well-shaded outdoor establishment, open seasonally from April to September, features modestly priced beer and hot dogs, unrivaled eye-candy and, quite unlike the Red Hook Pool, a toilet from which hobos have been known to flee.

The patio is a tight squeeze, and on some nights, the Yacht Club can feel like 200 drunks having a bare-knuckle brawl in a cattle pen, but that’s part of its charm. Sadly, meddlesome neighbors recently forced the bar to ditch its gas grill — according to manager Tim Morrow, it was a health code violation — which means the hot dogs are now boiled.

But let’s be honest, after a half-dozen Old Milwaukees you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Sometimes tourist attractions are attractions for a reason: The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory’s stellar reputation is, indeed, well deserved. Their chocolate-chocolate-chunk ice cream is faultless, the butter pecan incomparable and even the peaches and cream (a flavor to which I’m not normally inclined) had me nodding my head in admiration.

Such expertise means a limited menu of only eight flavors, but that’s a small price to pay for what’s essentially a religious experience. I’m not lying when I say tears sprang from my eyes as I sank tooth into the hot fudge sundae.

As veteran employee Brian Terrazas put it, “We make everything here ourselves, so it’s personal.”

Liberty Heights Tap Room

Steely Dan cover bands, hip-hop karaoke, extraordinarily powerful A/C and rivers of Sixpoint Ale make Liberty Heights one of the best — and strangest — places to pass an intolerably hot evening. On various occasions, I’ve encountered what appeared to be a bar mitzvah after-party; a geriatric biker convention and a lodge meeting of the Independent Order of Oddfellows.

There’s also a beautiful marble-topped bar, scrumptious pizza and towering “Super Nachos” that seems at first sight to be the breastwork of a castle.

Freebird Books & Goods

Freebird hawks three of the four major food groups (check the USDA pyramid if you don’t believe me): coffee, beer and corn dogs. Which is another way of saying it’s making a hard pitch for a place in that black heart of yours.

Readings in the air-conditioned store, cookouts in the shaded backyard and musical performances abound, as does a general feeling of bliss. “Now that it’s spring, people can just hangout in our backyard to drink and read and relax,” said co-owner Samantha Citrin. I suppose I should mention there’s also an admirable collection of used books.

Montero’s Bar & Grill

Thousands of years ago, give or take a few days, glaciers carved Brooklyn out of the Earth’s crust. Not much later, Montero’s opened. An old longshoreman’s haunt with a world-class collection of nautically themed bric-a-brac, Montero’s has a mighty air conditioner as well as that “old New York” feel you hear so much about these days. To wit: a man was stabbed to death here in the 1980s. But don’t worry, it’s much safer now.

The place has a lively cast of regulars. “Everyone from movie stars to the homeless,” according to owner Pepe Montero. Don’t miss the bar’s 60th anniversary on July 7.

Mugs Ale House

In one of the greatest swindles in recent history, the delightfully frosty, traditional 20-ounce pint glass has been replaced in New York by 14- and 16-ounce glasses, yet without a concomitant drop in price. These new “pints” have thicker sides and bottoms, so they appear to be the real thing. That is until you hold a 20-ouncer in your hand and it feels like a Big Gulp.

There are no fake pints at Mugs, and chilly beers are $4 instead of the ubiquitous $6 outrage you find elsewhere.

“We’re kind of a throwback,” bartender Sean Wyberg told GO Brooklyn. “I guess a lot of bars are hoping the customers don’t notice the difference, but it’s obviously not the same.” Amen, brother.

As you can see, the next month promises to be quite tolerable, despite the Parks Department’s tardy pool openings.

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (2 Old Fulton St., at Furman Street in DUMBO) is open Monday through Wednesday from noon–10 pm, and Thursday through Sunday from noon–11 pm. For information, call (718) 246-3963.

Freebird Books & Goods (123 Columbia St., at Kane Street in the Columbia Street Waterfront District) is open Monday through Friday from 2 pm–10 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am–10 pm. For information, call 718-643-8484 or visit

The Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., at President Street in Carroll Gardens) is open Monday through Thursday from 4 pm–midnight, Friday from 4 pm–2 am, Saturday from 2 pm–2 am and Sunday from 2 pm–midnight. For information, call (718) 246-1321.

The Liberty Heights Tap Room (34 Van Dyke St., at Dwight Street in Red Hook) is open Thursday and Friday from 4 pm and Sunday and Sunday from 1 pm. For information, call (718) 246-8050.

Montero’s (73 Atlantic Ave., at Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights) is open daily from noon–4 am. For information, call (718) 624-9799.

Mugs Ale House (125 Bedford Ave., at North 10th Street in Williamsburg) is open daily from 2pm–4 am. For information, call (718) 486-8232.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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