Some famous writer once said “Only the dead know Brooklyn,” which means he must’ve been talking about Green-Wood Cemetery and all their famous corpses. And those under the dirt might know a bunch, but lemme tell you, Brooklyn has changed since those guys started pushin’ up the daisies. And we think that there’s a lot to tell about Old School Brooklyn vs. the New School.
Luckily for a busload of fun-lovin’ Dutch businessmen & women, they picked the right tour company to show them around the borough of Kings! And being native Brooklynites, we never let ANYONE forget that! This is the third year in a row that I had the pleasure of touring NYC with a bunch of IBM-business types who were in town just for fun. The past two trips we simply sightsaw around Manhattan. But that’s island’s old hat, so this year we took ‘em on a 5 hour tasting and tippling tour of Brooklyn!
We drove our way across the Manhattan bridge and stopped for some photo ops under the Brooklyn Bridge at Fulton Ferry Landing, a perfect mix of Old School vs. New: the vintage suspension bridge, courtesy of John, Washington & Emily Roebling is as old-school awesome as it gets. Right next door, the brand-spanking new Brooklyn Bridge Park. So new, its not even done yet.
After our photo op we boogied through Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. I bought the boys and girls some black olive loaf at Caputo’s Bakery and some fresh mozzarella and soppressata at Esposito’s Jersey Pork store. Old School all the way. Then we picked up some tacos at Xochimilco and some Chinese dumplings at Tasty Dumpling, both in Sunset Park. Totally New School – hardworking Latino and Asian immigrant and ethnic cultures replacing the classic Irish-Italian-Jewish mix that epitomized Brooklyn for the most of the 20th century.
After Sunset Park snacks we roared down into the southwest slope of Brooklyn for the oldest-school bite one can find – a killer corner slice joint featured on our #GooglePizzaBus tour! Our main man John Fruente dished up slices of the Carbonara and the plain cheese for all my Dutch boys. They couldnt believe that a regular corner slice joint like Valentino’s crafted such superlative pies.
But after so much Old School Brooklyn, I kept explainin’ how Brooklyn no longer equals working class, blue collar, tough guy widda heart of gold. Now Brooklyn means young multi-culti DIYers, striving to make new paths in passionate fields like music, art, photography, furniture, recreation, brewing and distilling! So we swung by the Kings County Distillery, NYC’s Oldest Distillery (founded 2010!) for a tour of their closet-sized whiskey manufacturing shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn, amidst lots of graffiti.
Of course, no New School micro-micro-distillery is complete without tastings, right? So we treated the Dutch boys and gals to a little bit of whiskey, Brooklyn style. And then they all got to take a bottle home with them at the end of the day. After Moonshinin’ and imbibin’ the guys still had a few hours to kill before we poured them onto a plane heading back to the original Breukelen, so our last two stops were a pleasant mix of Old School and New School Brooklyn:
Brooklyn Brewery & Brooklyn Bowl. Housed in the landmarked Hecla Iron Works, 1882, Brooklyn Brewery has been brewing fine craft beers since 1988, and opens their brewshop every weekend to thirsty tipplers. After a 30 minute power-(half)hour, we strolled around the corner to Brooklyn Bowl, one of the newest New School shops in BK – a 600 capacity, 23,000 sq foot restaurant / live music venue / 16 lane bowling alley that is also the nation’s first LEED certified green bowling alley!
We tossed some bowling balls, sipped some Brooklyn beers, ate some tasty bites and remarked about the beautiful Old Vs. New School attitudes of what is certainly NYC’s most exciting place to be.
By Matt Levy
Pictures by Kevin Eichelberg