Last updated on February 9th, 2015
Day drinking: It’s the refuge of men with creased, defeated faces hunched over barstools in a sepia-toned dive, mumbling to a bartender who stands idly drying glassware in front of a dusty mirror. Or it’s the privilege of bronzed couples lounging on the blinding turquoise horizon, signaling for another mojito during an all-inclusive beach vacation.
For the rest of us, there’s happy hour. Most days, it’s enough to keep us content, but what happens when you’ve got the chance to play hooky and just check out for a decadent day-long session of boozy dreaming? Where can you make the most of your liberating afternoon?
In one of the polished-up brick warehouses wedged under the enormous trestles of the Manhattan Bridge, Superfine’s lofty space stretches out alluringly. Sure, you could slouch into one of the artfully mismatched flea market chairs by the orange-felted pool table or sit for a proper lunch in the elevated dining room, but the real action’s at the bi-level bar.
Taryn, the chatty GM/bartender with whom you’re already on a pinky-swear basis before you even order a drink, whips up artisanal but totally unpretentious cocktails with housemade sour mix, fresh juices, and liquors she infuses herself. “Try the blueberry vodka,” she insists, pouring out a lavender-hued shot and sliding it across the lacquered bar.
A Betty (cinnamon-infused green apple vodka, simple syrup, tonic, and a candied lemon twist) in hand, ensconced snugly on your barstool, time stretches as the sun slants across your back through the two-story windows. Motes of dust caught in the afternoon light spin lazily; you’re watching absentmindedly as patrons settle in or breeze through the space in slow motion.
The clack and clatter of pool balls subsides as a game winds down in favor of more sedentary pursuits. There’s no television to remind you of life beyond the brick walls, nothing but a lazily grooving soundtrack to keep you dimly aware that the minutes and hours are, in fact, making their usual passage.
Next thing you know, you’ve sucked down three Red Hounds (grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, and fresh sour mix with a crunchy sugar rim) and Taryn’s bringing out the dinner menu—one of a few dry-erase boards propped around the space. Everything’s a special since the food options change daily.
The sun fades into dusk, and the hanging lanterns punctuating the length of the bar throw glowing spotlight circles on the ice dissolving in your half-empty glass. Alone or with a companionable barmate, you can lose yourself in a plate of bucatini with bulbous buttermilk meatballs (in the fall) or an oozing arugula-stuffed mozzarella panini (in the spring).
After-work crowds are rolling in and the buzzing din of conversation starts to press in, encroaching on your self-imposed mental bubble. It’s time to slide off the barstool and head home. Waving a quick goodbye to Taryn, you push through the curtained vestibule like you’re returning from Technicolor Oz to black-and-white Kansas.
On the street, commuters trot to the subway, relieved and grateful to be free for the night or single-mindedly grabbing last-minute dinner fixings from the gourmet deli before a few quiet hours at home. The thunder of traffic on the Manhattan Bridge above, the squeal of braking cabs on Front Street pierce your brain—and just like that, you’re back. Where were you all day? And more importantly, when can you return?
For other super-prime bars for all-day drinking, check out my recent roundup in Time Out New York.
Superfine, 126 Front St. at Pearl St., Brooklyn, NY. 718-243-9005.