Bar Great Harry: One of the Oldest, Realist Bars Still Operating on Brooklyn’s Fast-Changing Smith Street. I love this place.

Written by admin on December 1, 2017


[This is part three in a series of sneak peeks from the chapters of my book Bars, Taverns and Dives New Yorkers Love, coming out in March 2018 from Rizzoli Publishing.) You can order it online now at Powell’s, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.]

bar great harry brooklyn art print by tebeau

“Bar Great Harry” by J. Tebeau © 2013

Best Time to Visit

Co-owner Ben Wiley suggests 2–5 p.m., “when it’s slow, and everyone is there because they love the place.”

Best Seat in the House

Sit at one of the rough-hewn little tables by the French doors facing Smith Street, an especially good spot when the weather is decent and they’re open, the street life of Cobble Hill your own little movie.


  • First try: The beer and a shot special, and not your average swill, either. “It’s good!” Wiley says. “It’ll be oddball, high-quality stuff, which always changes.”
  • Then: Go deeper into the beer list, or try a glass of wine on draft. Bar Great Harry stocks no bottles, but always features five or six New York state varieties on tap. Wine on tap? Yes. There’s almost no oxidation, so you’ll get a remarkably fresh-tasting pour.

Happy hour: Monday through Friday, 2–7 p.m. $1 off all drinks, beer, wine and shots.

Getting There

Subway: The F and G trains stop just a couple blocks south at Carroll Street.

What Else?

  • It’s a weird name, Bar Great Harry. The Wileys borrowed it from a cocktail bar in Yokohama, Japan, where Ben was getting a graduate degree in Japanese Studies, bartending at night. “Their story was that there was some old famous British navy ship called Great Harry that used to dock in Yokohama,” he explains. “This regular old Japanese dude that owned the bar decided to name it Bar Great Harry, I guess because he liked that ship. When Mike and I were brainstorming names he said to me one day, ‘Fuck it, let’s call it Bar Great Harry.’ We kind of looked at each other, giggled, and that that was that.”

Next up: Barbès of Brooklyn, another chapter of my book Bars, Taverns and Dives New Yorkers Love, which you can order right here. Limited-edition signed prints are available here.

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