Not your dad’s milkshake…but maybe your great great granddad’s

shakeRemember when a frosty milkshake cost just a nickel? Neither do I. But this Thursday, Brooklyn hot spot The Bell House (149 7th St., Brooklyn–map) is putting those bygone deals to shame, offering their take on the shake free of charge, starting at 9 PM.

A shot of history: back when milkshakes were invented in the late 19th century, they were often used as health tonics, fighting consumption with one key ingredient: whiskey. Pesky prohibition did away with the whiskey-laced shake, but it couldn’t wipe it from our memory entirely (in fact, Prohibition probably made everyone’s memory a bit clearer).

makersThe Bell House’s vanilla whiskey shake is a throwback to the good old days. And they ain’t using rotgut, either. They’re mixing their shakes with Maker’s Mark, aged at least five and a half years in weathered oak barrels to create a bourbon of consistently outstanding quality, one of the best to come out of Kentucky. The stuff’s not cheap, so tip your tender well. After all, she may be helping you fight off the TB, or at least a nasty case of sobriety.

The tip, from

The slippery Slope

ellisbar1I live in the Gowanus/South Slope area of Brooklyn, and in the past the one thing that’s drawn me away from my neighborhood is its lack of great bars. If I need to liven up my evening I’d usually head at least as far away as the north Slope or Smith St. But a rash of recent openings (along with the splendid weather) has given me all the more reason to stay home. The best: Ellis Bar (627 5th Ave., Brooklyn–map).

Ellis is a clean, comfortable neighborhood bar with excellent food. I mentioned its ridiculously cheap party deal in last week’s HHotW, but it turns out Ellis has a full calendar of drink specials that can keep you abuzz on the cheap. Consider tonight’s special, which they repeat  every single Wednesday: 25 cent shots of house bourbon to accompany live music, starting at 9. Mondays feature $3 Heineken, Tuesdays have canned beer specials (and trivia), and weekends have extended and reverse happy hours.

Ellis has an up to date website and a blog, so you can check in and fill out your calendar accordingly.

Last minute Happy Hour of the Week


This one is too good to pass up. Ellis Bar (627 5th Ave., Brooklyn–map), a recently-opened restaurant/bar in South Park Slope, is just shamelessly seeking attention. Tonight, Friday January 23, they’re hosting a bash and serving 1 cent Harpoon drafts, 1 cent shots of Jager, Soco, and house bourbon, and 1 cent cocktails, including margaritas and my favorite, caipirinhas.

If that’s not generous enough, they’ll also serve up chicken wings, sandwiches, and samplers, FOR FREE. As I said, completely shameless. The party starts tonight at 9, and every penny pincher with his or her head in the game will be there.

Oh, Brothers

dscn3380On a recent trip to my local supermarket, I noticed a new Chinese buffet joint. More importantly, I noticed its Grand Opening Special: four items, fried rice, and a soup for just $4.75. I smelled the potential for a cheap eater’s gold mine, so today I went by Brothers Oriental Express (319 9th St., Brooklyn–map) for lunch. As it turns out, most of what I was smelling was MSG.

Strictly on calorie to price ratio, Brothers does not disappoint. They fill up your styrofoam pan generously–it doesn’t take any stretching to get two full lunches from your $4.75 investment. And the long buffet line offers a wide range of meat, vegetarian, and even a few shrimp choices.

Unfortunately, none of the dishes is very good. Brothers’ food is on par with your typical cheap chinese takeout–sweet, stimulating, and sickening all at once. The egg rolls are a particular disappointment; they’re cold, chewy, and rather empty. At $4.75 it’s tough to complain, but you certainly won’t leave feeling like you underpaid.

Thai food for a Song

Getting a quality Thai meal for under $10 is near impossible anywhere, especially in New York. But in the heart of Park Slope, one restaurant comes in under that mark with room to spare.

song1The entrees at Song (295 5th Avenue, Brooklyn–map) range from $5 to $8 for their priciest seafood dish–the cost of a lunch special at most joints. They pile on so much delicious, spicy food that it’s a challenge to finish a plate even without appetizers, which are equally generous and all under $5.

With this knowledge, I’d expect a hole in the wall. But Song doesn’t skimp on decor, either. The interior is trendy almost to a fault, with mood lighting, modern furniture, and pulsing music on the speakers. If that’s not enough to make it seem like a club, you should also be prepared for a line of folks waiting to feed their curry craving. But this isn’t the Meatpacking District. Once you get inside, it’s just normal people enjoying a very abnormal deal.

Happy Hour of the Week: A Lesson in Beer

4apThe late Brit beer critic and writer Michael Jackson (not the pallid pedophile) taught the world that an educated palate is as important for beer as it is for wine and food. There’s no better place to learn than one of Brooklyn’s favorite bars, 4th Avenue Pub (76 4th Avenue, Brooklyn—map).

4AP has a vast rotating selection of international beers and domestic micro brews on tap. The friendly bartenders will give you a sample of anything you want to help you make your decision. One even claims to be able to pick a beer for you based on your favorite type of tree—I’ll reserve judgment on that technique. Once you make your pick, you can complement it with unlimited helpings from the self-serve popcorn machine.

There’s no better time to visit than from 3 pm to 8 pm every weekday, when all drinks in the bar are $2 off for happy hour. That means $3 for a delicious pint of a beer you didn’t know existed—it’s an Oxford beer education at community college prices.