Barbès: A Funky Little Music Bar Hidden in Plain Sight

Written by admin on December 11, 2017


[This is part four 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.]


my take on Barbès of Brooklyn

Barbès (you say it “bar-BESS”) is a surprise. A throwback. A weird little music club, the kind you might’ve found in the East Village in the ‘90s, with funk and soul, and it’s hidden in plain sight at the cusp of South Slope and Park Slope in Brooklyn. Right there amongst the millionaire brownstones and all those strollers and babies and nannies and rich mommies, there’s a seriously cool music scene happening.

Every night, in Barbès’s tight little back room, musicians play. No cover, no tickets—you just show up, grab a drink at the bar, slide in back, and listen to music. Sometimes three, maybe four acts in one night, and it might be anything: folk, classical, jazz, crazy bouncy eastern European brass funk. Maybe bluegrass played by a violin virtuoso, maybe four young jazzsters figuring it out. You might hear something mind-blowingly great, you might not. Stick around for the next set. You never know.


  • Start with a Chilcano de Pisco, the national drink of Peru, something “you can’t get just anywhere,” as Conan says.
  • Follow that up with the Ultima Palabra, an unusual riff on the already-unusual Last Word cocktail, made with mezcal in place of the Last Word’s gin.


Chilcano de Pisco

2 oz. Macchu Pisco brandy
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
about 4 oz. Fentimans ginger beer
Add all ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Salud!
The Ultima Palabra

.75 oz. Vida mezcal
.75 oz. Green Chartreuse
.75 oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
.75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Add all ingredients and ice to a shaker tin. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Next up: Bed-Vyne Brew 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.

Bars, Taverns Dives New Yorkers Love John Tebeau

The Book!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *