On a dark strip of Broadway under the J tracks in Bushwick, a glowing yellow sign emblazoned with a menacing wolf hangs above the entrance to a fierce new addition to the neighborhood: Lone Wolf. Once a sweaty, bare-bones, illegal DIY venue called The Bodega (but not related to Bodega wine bar near the Jefferson L stop), the space, just down the street from Beauty Bar and next to Goodbye Blue Monday, has been refashioned as a legitimate spot for congregating and drinking and, soon, regular live music.
But what it may have lost in danger and intrigue, it has definitely made up for in atmosphere. Illuminated by dim Edison bulbs and candles, the dark, roomy interior offers plenty of space to spread out and relax at one of the few tables or on a wooden bench, or sidle up to the bar, behind which a vintage circular Bevador cooler chills beer.
Lone Wolf caters to the neighborhood by keeping prices low and the drink possibilities standard. Two old-school American favorites that appeal to the fashionably poor, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Genesee Cream Ale, are available for a mere $3. Two nightly specials offer the chance to get blotto quickly for very little. A can of Tecate or Budweiser and a shot is $6, or, if you’re extra poor and have a strong stomach, you can get Genesee and a shot for $5. But for slightly more refined tastes, cans of the reliably wonderful Guinness ($6) and Porkslap Pale Ale ($4) from the Butternuts brewery upstate, and bottles of Negra Modelo ($5) and Stella Artois ($5), are on hand.
One drawback of the bar is its lack of taps, but on a recent evening, the crowd seemed drawn largely by the close proximity to their homes and the inviting environment, not necessarily by the promise of exotic draft beers. And when I asked the friendly bartender about wine, I was presented with precisely one choice, the Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola ($6). It tasted a tad old, or perhaps it’s simply a vinegary vintage. So sticking with beer is a smart choice, unless liquor’s to your taste. Well shots are $4 and well drinks are $5, while better brands like Maker’s Mark ($7) go for more. If fine spirits are more your style, Lone Wolf has a small but adequate selection from which to choose, including Woodford Reserve bourbon ($8) and Laphroaig single malt scotch ($10).
Underground Brooklyn DJs Dirty Finger and Misery Creep have already spun at the bar, and regular themed DJ nights include reggae-heavy Tuesdays and Morrissey-centric Sundays that save Moz fans a trip all the way to Sway. Wednesdays focus on country and Thursday on metal, and soon Mondays will be open to acoustic performers. According to another genial bartender, the downstairs (which is currently closed for renovation) will be primarily used as a live venue. And the excellent jukebox, with everyone from rocksteady pioneer Desmond Dekker to the country-folk singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, fills the void in the absence of other tunes.
A varied mix of locals already frequents this new neighborhood hangout, and when the weather warms and Lone Wolf opens its back patio, it’ll surely be a favorite meeting place of anyone within a mile radius. It’s hard to beat low prices, plenty of space and a welcoming crowd in a city known for its over-priced, tiny bars that wear exclusivity as a badge of honor.
1089 Broadway (betw. Lawton St. & Dodworth St.), Brooklyn, 718-455-2028.