Not every new bar in New York needs to be an Instagram-seducing set for tourists or birthday revelers, invariably lodged in a hotel underbelly. Cue Ponyboy, which opened in late September in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.
Housed in the former Manhattan Inn (a piano joint that closed in 2016), Ponyboy flutters from cocktail bar to discothèque to music hall to underground sushi society by zephyr-like whim. On a recent evening, chef Michael Stember, one of the owners, wondered how to use an antechamber that contained a banquet table.
“Maybe this will be a kaiseki tearoom,” Mr. Stember said. “Maybe it will be a wine club. We have no idea where this is headed.”
Nested in a heavily trafficked section of Manhattan Avenue aside dollar stores and laundromats, Ponyboy has a squeezed bar that funnels into an open kitchen and, eventually, a larger, dimly lit room with a stage, banquette seating and a distinctive pitched skylight.
The design (overseen by Kim Mupangilai) is spartan but hospitable, with white walls, kaleidoscopic tiling and tchotchkes like miniature rocking horses. It will not be foreign terrain to visitors who frequented Manhattan Inn.
Jammed on weekends, Ponyboy attracts throngs that are more North Brooklyn circa 2019 than 2009. On one night, as McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” grooved, cleanshaven men who could have been Amazon headhunters mingled under a disco ball with women in oversize glasses and retro Gucci sweatshirts.
At the bar, an older Polish neighborhood native fabulized tales of hunting elk in Wyoming to gullible newcomers. “There’s not too many places that party this hard until 2 a.m.” said James Halpern, an owner who was a bartender at 169 Bar, a boisterous dive on the Lower East Side. “It’s Valentine’s Day every day.”
Recognizable disco or soul (think Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers) with frequent live performances by local funk bands or perhaps rappers backed by brass sections.
21 and over, no cover.
Canned beers like Modelo and Kirin Ichiban are $5; specialty cocktails like the Giddy Up Pony (tequila, mezcal, green chartreuse, habanero, lime) are $13. The full dinner menu includes seared Hokkaido scallops ($15) and beef sliders ($15 for a pair).
Ponyboy, 632 Manhattan Avenue (between Nassau and Norman Avenues); ponyboy.nyc. Open daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
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