Banter, a new watering hole on Havemeyer Street subtitled "Williamsburg Public House," effortlessly blends Brooklyn style with a British Isles sensibility in a space that’s both hospitable to locals and inviting to an international crowd. The creators of Banter, Victor Boyd (who’s part owner of the soccer-centric Williamsburg pub Iona) and two of Iona’s longtime bartenders, Conor Carolan and Chris Keller, are fervent fans of Liverpool football, and at Banter they encourage devotees of the most popular sport in the world to gather for serious beer, expertly poured, and fine whiskey.
Banter’s low-lit spaciousness and dark wood interiors lend it a more refined air than most pubs, which is enhanced by the finely crafted copper-topped bar and highly polished wood inlay floor. Three wide-screen TVs hover near the ceiling and provide unobstructed views for fans of European football, but seem unobtrusive to those who aren’t watching a match. High-walled booths in the front offer privacy from the wide-open space of the bar and lend themselves to the sort of exchanges touted by the bar’s moniker. But if you’re looking for a place to meet 20 of your closest friends, with 60 seats to choose from, Banter could easily accommodate them. And the bar’s dazzling beer selection, one of its biggest strengths, will appeal to a wide range of tastes.
Twenty-four tap lines deliver classics like Guinness and Delerium Tremens alongside local favorites from Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery, as well as craft beers from around the country and European imports, including the potent Hofbrau Strong Bock and crisp Bitburger Pilsner. Several lines rotate seasonally, offering lesser-known suds like the Scottish blonde beer Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted and Ireland’s Porterhouse Red Ale, which were featured draughts on a recent evening. The French bartender was quick to extol the virtues of the tap system and its abilities to deliver an excellent Guinness, claiming it’s the best he’s had in the United States. And if bottled beer is to your liking, Banter’s menu of more than 30 bottled brews covers broad territory, from rich Corsendork Brown ($8) to Hitachino White Ale ($5).
A long row of Jameson bottles positioned meaningfully above the bar announces a devotion to that Irish whiskey. The original goes for $6, and Jameson Gold for $12. Banter also offers an array of small-batch bourbons, including Bookers ($12) and Michters ($9), and an impressive selection of single malts, from Laphroaig ($10) to Lagavulin ($14). Wine and cocktails are available as well, and happy hour lasts until 8 every day, with $1 off well liquor and tap beers. And to stave off hunger, Banter serves up four types of panini, including portobello mushroom with Fontina, served with mixed field greens ($8).
Though Banter, which opened in February, caters to a crowd similar to Iona’s, particularly beer-loving football fanatics from the U.K. and Ireland, Banter doesn’t yet have the homey, livedin feel that the Grand Street bar has acquired. But its many charms will likely draw a crowd of regulars who can provide the weathering Banter needs to achieve the laid-back comfort that makes any pub more enticing.
Havemeyer St. (at S. 1st St.), Brooklyn,