Last Exit Bar and Lounge is taking its last gasps.
The 16-year-old Cobble Hill watering hole, known to some as “The Vortex” for its ability to suck in thirsty patrons, will shutter at the end of April, a bartender confirmed. The three owners had a rocky relationship with the landlord and could not come to an agreement over the lease, according to the tapster.
“I’ve met countless people in my life through this bar,” said Amanda Ketchan, who has worked at the mainstay for three years. “It’s a very tight-knit bar.”
Joe Herron, John Ipcar, and Julie Brien had no money when they opened Last Exit on Atlantic Avenue between Clinton and Henry streets, they said in a farewell Facebook post. It was quite a ride, and one probably best experienced in the digital Dark Ages, they said.
“Last Exit is such a special place and the memories will last forever,” the threesome wrote. “Thankfully most of these memories took place before cellphone cameras.”
The bar was named after “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” the dark debut novel of Hubert Selby, Jr. depicting drug abuse, homophobia, and gang rape in nearby Red Hook in the 1950s.
The area has changed a great deal since Red Hook lost its working waterfront. A patron sipping a brew at the bar on Wednesday afternoon lamented the loss of a laid-back vibe that he said is disappearing all too quickly in Brooklyn.
“You didn’t have to dress up, and it didn’t have those fancy, frou-frou cocktails,” said Cobble Hill resident Charles Pugliese, who said he stops in three or four times a month. “It’ll be missed. It’s a shame.”
The bar hosts a monthly “Slurring Bee,” a combination spelling bee and drinking contest where each word is accompanied by a mystery shot. A “Tournament of Champions” featuring the past 12 winners is scheduled for April 26, but newcomers are welcome to join for a $10 fee.
Last Slurring Bee at Last Exit Bar [136 Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Clinton streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 222–9168, www.lastexitbar.com]. April 26, 6 pm till late. $10 to enter.