Freddy's Bar & Backroom

627 5th Ave
Venerable Prospect Heights watering hole Freddy's spent an impressive eighty years at its old digs on Dean Street, serving at times as a sort of policeman's lounge for a good chunk of it, until their well-publicized battle with Bruce Ratner, imminent... more
Venerable Prospect Heights watering hole Freddy's spent an impressive eighty years at its old digs on Dean Street, serving at times as a sort of policeman's lounge for a good chunk of it, until their well-publicized battle with Bruce Ratner, imminent domain, and the hulking mass of the Barclays Center. The original location is now something of an odd memorial, an unintentional absurdist monument of unused bike racks at the lower boundary of the Atlantic Yards sprawl. The bar has found new life in the ever-ascendant southern reaches of Park Slope, in the former home of relatively useless Ellis, a blip of a bar known mostly for its seedy pool room and blindingly bad drink specials, all of which tasted like they'd been fished out of the Gowanus. The space has come a long way since it housed that mishap of an establishment, with the pool room now serving as Freddy's back room, where a constant parade of musical acts, literary events, tribute nights, screenings, and art installations turn the room into a sort of artistic and cultural holodeck. While the walls generally showcase the graphic artistry of local painters, illustrators, and the like, they are also occasionally adorned by t... more
Venerable Prospect Heights watering hole Freddy's spent an impressive eighty years at its old digs on Dean Street, serving at times as a sort of policeman's lounge for a good chunk of it, until their well-publicized battle with Bruce Ratner, imminent domain, and the hulking mass of the Barclays Center. The original location is now something of an odd memorial, an unintentional absurdist monument of unused bike racks at the lower boundary of the Atlantic Yards sprawl.

The bar has found new life in the ever-ascendant southern reaches of Park Slope, in the former home of relatively useless Ellis, a blip of a bar known mostly for its seedy pool room and blindingly bad drink specials, all of which tasted like they'd been fished out of the Gowanus. The space has come a long way since it housed that mishap of an establishment, with the pool room now serving as Freddy's back room, where a constant parade of musical acts, literary events, tribute nights, screenings, and art installations turn the room into a sort of artistic and cultural holodeck. While the walls generally showcase the graphic artistry of local painters, illustrators, and the like, they are also occasionally adorned by the reclaimed bathroom walls from the original location, complete with the graffiti that decorated the stalls, a snapshot of the old Freddy's at the moment of its inevitable demise.

The main bar harkens back to that former space as well, with nearly all of the kitschy furnishings of the old bar having made the trip down 5th Avenue to their new home, which can only be described as a tavern by way of curio shop: there's the cow skull with a bottle of whiskey jammed in its eye, a marlin with the scotch-tape-on-glasses equivalent of a nosejob, the "asshole" sign used to silently judge anyone foolish enough to be one, and of course, the chain that spans the entire length of the bar, which regulars handcuffed themselves to at the height of the publicity over the battle with the Barclays Center. Of the many televisions screens around the place, there's one at the back that tends to show either sports or TCM, one in the front and back room showing the mesmerizing "TV Dreams," a never-ending project of co-owner Donald O'Finn's genius repurposing of found footage, a projection screen in the back that shows the same, and, of course, the infamous Freddy the Cat—of No One Outdrinks The Cat fame, on a permanent loop behind the bar, in an eternal bid to empty his water bowl. If you watch closely, he does relent eventually, so he can be beat, but it takes some doing.

If we were the sort of people who gave awards, Freddy's would win the distinction of Best Bar Seating hands-down for their stools alone, wooden numbers with high, curving backs and armrests, ready to swivel between the seemingly trivial but always deep conversations that tend to flank you at all times at Freddy's. And then there are the church pews that sit on each side of the tables along the wall, which could drive a Catholic mad wondering how pews could feel so doggedly uncomfortable during mass but be so comfortable when transplanted to a bar.

In the case of bartenders and regulars, Freddy's stands above the impressive pantheon of bars along 5th Avenue, a stretch of road that's already known for having an amiable bar culture that's more about community than competition. Two-thirds of the ownership still tend bar for the congregation, and do it with such effortless skill that you can't help believe that the best bartenders aren't made but born into it. By dint of that, the patrons of Freddy's tend towards the amiable and the intellectual, making the bar the sort of place where bad attitudes and the fights that inevitably follow are not just frowned upon, but judiciously dealt with. There's an air of curation—done with the unseeable hand of a magician—about everything at Freddy's, from the decor right down to the regulars, proving that great bars, unlike great bartenders, don't just happen by chance.

by Patrick Hipp

Drag the street view to look around 360°.
Use the arrow buttons to navigate down the street and around the neighborhood!

Info

627 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 235-3713
Website

Editorial Rating

Admission And Hours

Daily: 12:00pm-4:00am
March 25th, 2014
*****
There's an air of curation—done with the unseeable hand of a magician—about everything at Freddy's, from the decor right down to the regulars, proving that great bars, unlike great bartenders, don't just happen by chance.

Nearby Subway

  • N / R to Prospect Ave
  • / G to 4th Ave/9th St

@FreddysBar1

Live stuff/ Fred Thomas/Newdie Show/Jazz Funk/ Rock n Folk -
https://t.co/t5F8f6Bgvc July 14

Live {Mostly Free} Music, Comedy, Burlesque, Open Mics. -
https://t.co/Q28p3TjhOm
https://t.co/pLRSEil45d May 18

Happy St. Paddy's -
https://t.co/YOkDwu2TTp
https://t.co/rHEc1vr9pf March 17

Comedy, Burlesque, Country, Blues, rock. karaoke & an Open Mic -
https://t.co/KWgRWlHrKl
https://t.co/fQbubqRQDs February 14

view all

Other Popular Bar

Sing Sing Karaoke — Avenue A

The Tompkins Square location of Sing Sing is the typically straight-forward kara... view

Sing Sing Karaoke — St. Mark's

The East Village locations of Sing Sing are typically straight-forward karaoke ... view

Fishbowl

Tucked in the basement of the Dream Hotel is this happy-go-lucky adult playpen. ... view

Atlas Social Club

Megaliths of the gay nightlife world came together to create Atlas, where the ve... view