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Foamland Security: Ferry Riders Say de Blasio’s Subsidies Spare Them Subway Trauma

Keith Bearden took the subway to work for twenty years, but he can’t deal with it anymore. The 45-year-old, who works in publishing in downtown Manhattan, now opts for the NYC Ferry, recently championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as “a game changer” for commuters in waterfront neighborhoods like Astoria, where Bearden lives.

Bearden’s commute is slightly longer now, but subway-less. “It got to the point where the MTA was giving me panic attacks,” Bearden told the Voice while riding the ferry on a recent beautiful spring day. He described the ferry as “really nice” and “a bit more civilized.”

“Also there’s beer,” Bearden added, noting the amenity is welcome in both directions of his commute. “Some days you just want to start your morning with a beer.”

On May 3, de Blasio announced NYC Ferry would be getting an additional $300 million in city funding over the next five years, bringing the grand total of taxpayer spending for the service to $600 million. The mayor’s goal is to allow more people to ditch the city’s subways and buses and enjoy the fresh harbor air, much like Bearden now does.

The question, though, is whether taxpayers should be paying for more than two-thirds of their ride. The new funding, which will be used to improve docks, run more frequent service, and buy bigger boats, comes on top of annual city subsidies of $30 million for operations, which the city projects as costing taxpayers $6.60 a ride once ridership hits 4.6 million. Riders pay just $2.75 per ride — lowered from as much as $6 on the pre–de Blasio East River ferries, in order to set fares at the same price as a subway ride.

There is no doubt the people who take the ferry love it. A survey by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the ferry service, found 66 percent of riders gave NYC Ferry a rating of 10 out of 10, and another 22 percent gave it an 8 or 9.

But who these ferry riders are is a question that the city has so far declined to answer. So far, neither NYC Ferry nor the NYCEDC have released the relevant demographic data to answer that question, other than to say that the vast majority of them are New Yorkers.

To get a glimpse into who is benefiting from ferry subsidies, the Voice interviewed sixty riders, covering all four existing ferry routes (two more are set to open this summer) during peak rush periods, to find out why they’re taking the ferry and where they’re from. Our findings: Ferry riders are, by and large, higher-income New Yorkers taking advantage of subsidized ferry rides to avoid subways and buses — not because it’s a faster commute, but because of the ferry’s creature comforts such as elbow room, concessions, alcohol, WiFi, and the fresh sea air.

“The time factor has nothing to do with it for me,” explained J. Scott Klossner, a 53-year-old freelancer currently working for the Today show who takes the Rockaway route, even though it adds almost 45 minutes each way to his commute.

“I can get a coffee, a bagel, everyone is nice. The opposite is true of the A train: Everyone is a fucking asshole.”

***

Nearly every rider interviewed by the Voice said they used to take the subway to work. Fifty-eight percent of them said they took the ferry exclusively for its comforts despite having viable — and often faster — subway alternatives. A few people said they preferred the ferry because they could bring bikes (which cost an extra dollar to take on board) or strollers during rush hour.

The remaining riders take it for a variety of reasons, mostly because it is more reliable or faster than the subway, especially the R through Bay Ridge and the A from Rockaway.

One thing ferry service does not appear to be doing is reducing car traffic. Several riders the Voice interviewed drive from their homes in Bay Ridge or Sunset Park to the Sunset Park terminal, park in a community lot, then take the ferry from there. Only one rider mentioned driving less frequently into Manhattan because of the ferry.

Just two riders, who ditched an Express Bus route — which costs $6.50 per ride — mentioned cost as a factor. That may be in part because the ferries, and their subsidies, appear to largely be serving higher-income commuters.

Of the 35 riders interviewed by the Voice who took the ferry for comfort, the vast majority work in white-collar industries. They also tended to live in neighborhoods whose residents have a median income higher than the city’s as a whole, such as Long Island City, Bay Ridge, and Astoria. They were lawyers and financiers, fashion designers and headhunters, software developers and data engineers, consultants and architects. There were some teachers, nurses, and others whose jobs are commonly regarded as solidly middle-class, too, but they were in the minority.

Though de Blasio administration officials touted the ferry service’s proximity to public housing in Red Hook and Astoria as a benefit for low-income New Yorkers, NYCHA residents warned two years ago that ferry service wasn’t intended for them, and they appear to have been right: In the Voice’s survey, only one rider worked hourly or part-time — a dog walker who was taking the ferry for comfort.

Pamela Jackson, a 31-year-old who works in nonprofit marketing, ditched the R train for the ferry because she no longer has to jostle with disgruntled commuters. “The R is maybe 2 minutes faster, technically, but you deal with everyone in a bad mood on the train in the morning. It’s packed and you rarely get a seat,” she says. Taking the ferry is a “better mental health choice, honestly.”

***

At the May 3 press conference, de Blasio proclaimed that the new spending for ferry expansion is a “very important part of our goal of making New York City the fairest big city in America,” a tagline he adopted for his final term.

But transit advocates have largely disagreed with this characterization. Rather than welcoming a new mode of public transit, they questioned the use of taxpayer funds to expand a service that serves a disproportionately small number of mostly well-off people.

In 2017, New York’s ferries carried fewer than 10,000 passengers per day, equivalent to about the 92nd busiest bus route in the city. The city’s buses as a whole have almost 2 million weekday trips, or more than 200 times the ferry’s ridership. As Streetsblog pointed out, even if NYC Ferry meets its ridership goals of 24,500 riders per day by 2023, that would still be fewer riders than fourteen individual bus routes.

The subway, meanwhile, has 5.5 million daily riders, or 550 times the ferry’s. Yet de Blasio fought the MTA for months on providing $418 million toward the authority’s Subway Action Plan before finally agreeing to do so. As noted by the New York Times, the mayor has also refused to spend $212 million a year to fund half-price Metrocards for New Yorkers living below the federal poverty line, approximately $25,000 for a family of four.

“Ferries are and will remain a marginal sliver of New York’s transportation system,” Jon Orcutt, director of communications and advocacy at TransitCenter, told the Voice. “At the very least, city government should match its ferry investment with a vastly expanded bus lane and bus priority street program.”

De Blasio’s choice to further subsidize ferry ridership comes at a time when the city’s transit system is in peril. The subway woes get the most headlines, but New York’s bus system is in crisis, too, as an aging fleet and a lack of dedicated bus lanes has led to the slowest speeds in the nation and declining ridership.

The average income of bus commuters is $28,455, well below the city’s median individual income of $38,840, according to a report by the city comptroller. Last year, de Blasio announced he was providing $270 million to expand the city’s Select Bus Service over the next decade — less than the ferries will receive over the next five years. Each of the existing SBS routes carries more passengers alone than the ferry system in total. Some individual SBS routes, such as the Bx12 (15,576,377 annual riders) or the M15 (14,128,504) carry orders of magnitude more New Yorkers per year than the entire ferry system.

And that’s to say nothing of Citibike, which receives no subsidies at all despite being the most-used bike sharing system in North America, averaging some 60,000 riders per day during summer months and 25,000 to 30,000 per day in winter months.

Any way one slices it, NYC Ferry is getting far more subsidies per rider than the city’s crucial transit systems.

***

To date, the only information released by NYCEDC about who ferry riders are comes from a survey of 1,345 riders from last August. Of the 1,229 who provided their home zip codes, NYCEDC found that 87 percent of them live in New York City. NYCEDC then created a heat map of the zip code results without numerical values or a legend. The agency declined to make the raw data of the survey available to the Voice; a Freedom of Information Law request for that data remains outstanding.

The riders interviewed by the Voice generally reflect the city’s findings, with the vast majority commuting from Rockaway (median household income: $49,414, according to the New York City Department of Planning), Bay Ridge ($63,539), Red Hook/Carroll Gardens ($91,757), and Long Island City/Queensbridge/Ravenswood/Astoria/Hunters Point/Sunnyside/West Maspeth ($58,971). The Voice’s results underrepresented commuters from DUMBO ($94,542) and Brooklyn Heights ($116,189) relative to the NYCEDC survey. Of those neighborhoods, only Rockaway is below New York City’s median household income of $55,191.

And neighborhood median household income likely understates the discrepancy between ferry riders’ income and average New Yorkers’. The ferry disproportionately caters to residents of waterfront properties, particularly the high-rise luxury towers popping up along Brooklyn and Queens. The Astoria route was particularly illustrative, as most of the riders interviewed by the Voice live in one of the many luxury high-rises along the East River.

Ryan Burda is a software developer who just moved to Long Island City. “I had no idea the ferry was right here when I signed my lease” at one of the waterfront high-rises, he says. “Now I take it every day” because “the subway is always jammed, and this is just a much lighter start to my morning.”

Some of these riders who live particularly close to the ferry do experience significant time savings on their commute, because the ferry landing is only a few feet from their door. Kristen Ayscue, a 33-year-old who works in TV production, cut her commute time by as much as 30 minutes thanks to the ferry’s reliability. She takes the ferry from Long Island City to Wall Street instead of the 7 train to the 4 or 5. “I kind of rave about it. The workers are really pleasant, the views — it’s like a vacation.”

The Bay Ridge route seems to cater largely to R train refugees. Stephen Pickering, a 41-year-old teacher, was on the ferry with his son Bodie. “Taking the R train in Bay Ridge is absolutely detestable, and our local elected officials like Marty Golden who sit on the MTA Capital Review Board have done nothing other than cosmetic upgrades,” he fumed. “So when the ferry came along finally, we got ourselves what I would call a civil commute.”

Passengers from Red Hook, a neighborhood notorious for its lack of transit options, were excited to commute to Manhattan by ferry, even if it didn’t save them much time. Several boarded the ferry with bikes. Genevieve Walker, a 33-year-old working in publishing, says she either bikes 25 minutes to work in Tribeca or takes the ferry, which takes 45 minutes door-to-door. Katie Diamond, a 33-year-old working in Times Square for Theatre of the Oppressed, says she will occasionally use the ferry if she doesn’t feel like biking over the bridge: “It’s great, especially at the end of the day.”

One Red Hook resident who works in the arts, Lindsey Packer, seemed fairly stunned by her ferry commute, which is now 10 minutes to the Brooklyn Army Terminal. “The idea of walking a long way to the F train or the G train and taking it to the R train and then walking a long way back to the Brooklyn Army Terminal, or taking a beautiful 10-minute boat ride?” She shrugged as if demonstrating the obvious.

The Rockaway route, while serving the lowest-income neighborhoods of the ferry network, is the best case for the ferry’s massive subsidy. Yet all of the commuters the Voice interviewed who live in Rockaway work in white-collar industries such as engineering, law, media, and finance. Almost all of them said the subway, via the A train, was faster than the ferry but less pleasant.

Marylou Grimaldi, a 50-year-old media professional who commutes from her home on Rockaway Beach to Wall Street, vowed to never return to the subway. “I would rather wait two hours for this boat. Because of the quality of the commute and the people on the boat and the rules and regulations and what doesn’t go on on the boat. It’s a cleanliness thing, it’s a safety thing, it’s a cursing and playing music thing, it’s garbage, it’s everything.”

Ann Martin, a 52-year-old legal secretary making the same commute, spends 20 minutes longer per day on the ferry versus the A train, but believes “the A train wasn’t safe. The crowd isn’t good on it. It’d go through East New York. This is more comfortable, more relaxing. It’s a different type of clientele and people.” (There were zero murders, seven rapes, and 332 assaults in the New York City subway system in 2017, according to the MTA’s annual report.)

Few others said they felt unsafe on the subway, but the sentiment that the A train was a thing of the past came up in almost every conversation. Mirta Mendez was far more representative of ferry riders as a whole. A 40-year-old accountant who commutes from Rockaway to midtown, she has a ferry ride of about 90 minutes door-to-door, roughly the same as the subway as long as there are no delays. But she opts for the ferry more than anything else because of how it makes her feel.

“You close your eyes and feel like you’re on a private yacht,” Mendez beamed, gesturing at the harbor. “It’s wonderful.”

 

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This Week in Food: Shake Shack Run, A Square Meal, and Beer Trolley 3.0

Becoming a Food Entrepreneur
Brooklyn FoodWorks (630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Terry Frishman of culinary consultancy firm Culinest is leading a class on ways to help create your own food start up. The class will cover everything from legal requirements to production and sales. Reservations are $40; secure a spot here.

Run and Drink
Shake Shack (1 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Shake Shack’s DUMBO location is offering free community runs on the second Tuesday of every month, with runners of all ages invited to grab a free drink at that Shake Shack location afterwards.

A Square Meal in 1930’s America
NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health (411 Lafayette St., 5th Fl.)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Examine the cuisine of the Great Depression and sample recipes from the era at this talk and tasting from the Culinary Historians of New York. Reservations are $40 for general admission; rsvp here.

The Food Funny
QED (27-16 23rd Avenue, Queens)
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Comedy and cooking mix at this live show which features select chefs performing stand up comedy while comedians try their hands at making a few dishes. Tickets are $7 and can be reserved here.

Beer Trolley 3.0
Gun Hill Tavern (780 E 133rd Street, Bronx)
Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Beer industry veterans Chris Cuzme and Kelly Taylor are touring four Bronx based breweries in a trolley and inviting guests to hop aboard. The tour includes drinks on the trolley, a bottle share, and two half pours of beer or a pint at each brewery; food is available for cash purchase at select stops.  Tickets are $40 and include drinks; rsvp here.

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Head to Astoria for Indian Food That Rocks Chef Jen Luk’s World


Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column. 


The Chef:
Jen Luk
The Gig: Pastry chef at Andrew Carmellini’s Little Park (85 West Broadway; 212-220-4110)
Known For:Memorable sundaes” and lots of fruit-forward sweets
The Best Thing She Ate This Month: 3 Dishes at Aladdin in Astoria (29-06 36th Avenue; 718-784-2554)

“I’ve lived in Astoria for four or five years now. A friend introduced me to the Indian restaurant Aladdin, and now it’s one of the five or so local restaurants I always have in rotation.

“I grew up in Hong Kong, so I love yellow curry, which is not native to Hong Kong but is a result of their cultural mishmash with Thailand and India. You walk in the door at Aladdin and the fragrance of curry hits you; it almost punches you in the face. I originally fell in love with Aladdin because their yellow curry is exactly like the curry I’d get growing up in Hong Kong. It was pure nostalgia.

“But in general, I eat a lot of rice; much more so than bread or pasta since it sits the best with me digestively. Knowing this, my friend introduced me to their goat biryani. The first thing that hit me was the fragrance of basmati rice, which was new to me, and cardamom, which my friend told me was common in southern India. I’d never had goat meat before, either, and always assumed it would be dry and tough, like the lamb and rice you get from a halal cart that sinks in your stomach and gives you heartburn after. But the goat in the biryani is so lean and tender, and not dry at all. Mixed with the rice, it’s a dish you can eat regularly without it feeling heavy or overwhelming.

“Finally, I also love the chicken roll. I don’t really like fried food in general, but this is so good. It’s a fried roll stuffed with chicken and herbs, and the thing that really makes it is a tamarind-water spice sauce. It’s sweet, a little spicy without burning your tongue, with a sour element too. But altogether it doesn’t have the thickness of a traditional sweet-and-sour sauce. You dip the chicken roll into it and it gets soaked up with the flavor of tamarind. It’s just so good.

“You have to get there early, because the dinner menu rolls out at 6 p.m. and they sell out of things early on, especially the chicken curry and the curry roll — once they’re done, they’re done and don’t make any more. It has a neighborhood, local ambiance, with a Bengali and Indian crowd, and all the taxi drivers eat there. It’s very family- and community-oriented, with everyone meeting to talk about their day, and kids running in and around. And then there are people like me, who are neither Bengali nor Indian, but get treated well, too. It’s clean, it’s fast, and it’s consistent. I always order a chai tea, slightly sweetened, and pretty much always get those three dishes, sipping and watching the crowd until my food comes.”

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With This Beer, We Raise a Toast to Queens

Move over, Brooklyn. After years of threats and broken promises, we may finally be entering the era of Queens. You want proof? There’s the Mets, of course, who are riding an eleven-game win streak to the best record in baseball. Although it’s still April, the team’s most electrifying start since the championship season of 1986 is enough to snag the entire city’s attention. But that’s sure to fade faster than the hop profile of a great I.P.A.

More importantly, a great borough needs a great beer — dozens of them — and Queens seems to get a new, noteworthy brew with each passing month. In fact, the craft-beer scene there is now so broad and distinguished as to merit a dedicated celebration: Queens Beer Week. Launched in 2014, May 8 marks its triumphant return with an opening event at Crescent and Vine in Astoria. And there’s plenty to sip on in the meantime. Start with Starchild, from Glendale’s own Finback Brewery. Representing rebirth, and packing a whole lotta funk, it’s an entirely appropriate beer for 2015 Queens.

Tart and tangy, Finback’s April release is a 4.6 percent sour brewed with grapefruit peels and wild yeast strains. This particular style of beer typically takes some getting used to; the pungent flavors of a sour ale can evoke unfavorable comparisons to everything from vinegar to wet barn. But yes, some people actively seek out these elements in their beer. Belgian lambic drinkers, for one, have been enjoying them for centuries. Starchild improves its accessibility, however, by offering the ripened zest provided by citrus. You don’t have to be a sour-beer lover so much as a grapefruit enthusiast to get down with this brew. And after you get down, it’s unlikely you’ll turn around. Once you go sour, as they say…

With an orange-hued body reminiscent of our Citi Field baseball team, Starchild has a light, acidic fizz that might linger on the tongue longer than the Mets’ reign at the top of the standings.

Look for it on tap at many of the borough’s standout beer bars. For a guaranteed taste, not to mention a fun weekend excursion, head over to the Finback taproom, open Thursday through Sunday. There you can enjoy four-ounce pours and growler fills of the new sour, along with ten other house brews on draft. In the heart of the borough, it’s a great taste of Queens. Be forewarned: There isn’t a subway stop within a mile. Plan accordingly. From the Middle Village stop at the end of the M line, you can either walk about 30 minutes or take the Q54 bus to get to the brewery.

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Sekend Sun Offers Astoria Residents a New Home for Cocktails

Though Queens and Brooklyn carry their own unique identities, Jay Zimmerman and Derrek Vernon both noticed a few similarities as they worked on opening their second cocktail endeavor, Sekend Sun (32-11 Broadway, Queens; 917-832-6414), on a busy but underserved stretch of concrete. Both veterans of the NYC cocktail scene, their first haunt, Basik, brought attention to the local nightlife scene on Williamsburg’s Graham Avenue. Now their mix of well-executed cocktails, progressive cuisine, and neighborly ambiance has made its way to Broadway in Queens.

The name is a metaphor: Both owners are second sons, with the opportunity to set out and create a unique experience in whatever location they choose.

Zimmerman created the drink menu for their Queens debut; his list offers a mix of crafted concoctions including the “Me and Her,” a drink that encompasses the nearby New York Distilling Company’s New Rock and Rye. There’s also a drink that features cachaca, a nod to the tastes of Astoria’s diverse population.

“When I moved out to Brooklyn 10 years ago, it would bug me to have to travel so far to get something like this,” Zimmerman says. “We try to be all things to all people.”

The food menu is a collection of refined and eclectic bar bites from executive chef Gary Tackett, an alum of Locanda Verde. Starters include house-made warm pretzels made with a homemade beer cheese sauce and mustard, tater tots, and buffalo fried oysters with corn pudding. Shrimp and grits, a burger, steak frites, and pumpkin gnocchi represent some of the heartier fare. The restaurant also plans to debut a weekend brunch by the end of the year.

“We definitely try to push the sharing concept,” says Tackett. “You can have a couple of courses and still feel good.”

The space plays into that convivial mentality, with communal tables and booths filling up a majority of the seating arrangements so people feel comfortable whether they’re ordering a cocktail or creating their own four-course tasting menu. There’s even an outdoor patio with the word “Queens” emblazoned in bright neon lights.

Click on the next page for additional photos of Astoria’s newest bar.

Me and Her, a signature cocktail, designed for you and me
Me and Her, a signature cocktail, designed for you and me
The bar. There are TVs hidden behind those shutters.
The bar. There are TVs hidden behind those shutters.
Just want dessert and drinks?
Just want dessert and drinks?

Owners Jay Zimmerman and Derrek Vernon
Owners Jay Zimmerman and Derrek Vernon
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This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 10/10/2014

Fall is in full swing, and there are dozens of parties happening here each weekend. Here are the five best food events this weekend.

Fall Burger Crawl Hosted by Chef Russell Jackson, multiple locations, Saturday, noon

Spend Saturday enjoying off-the-menu burgers at up to four locations followed by an after-party celebrating your ridiculous appetite. Chef Russell Jackson will lead the midtown crawl, which includes stops at Point Break and Tri Tip Grill. Each location will serve half of a special burger paired with a Sixpoint brew, and participants will meet up at Hudson Common when it’s all over. Tickets start at $45.

The Feast Fest, Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, Saturday, 8 p.m.

Head to the seaside community of Red Hook this weekend for this donation-based party, where you’ll find a bar, dance party, and food from local vendors available for purchase. Neighborhood residents get in for free, though you’ll have to showing proof of address at the door. Look for samples from Brooklyn Brew Shop, Chipotle, and One Hope wine. Tickets are $50.

Indonesian Food Bazaar, Masjid al-Hikmah, 48-01 31st Avenue, Queens, Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

If you’ve got $5 to spare, head to this unique market, which sets up sporadically and features dishes from home cooks who don’t otherwise make their food available to the public. Sample a variety of Indonesian specialties like beef rendang and sticky rice, iced coconut milk, and combro, a deep-fried, chili-spiked croquette of grated cassava. You can feast until 6 p.m.

Brooklyn Wort, Threes Brewing, 333 Douglass Street Sunday, 1 p.m.

Thirty of the best homebrews in the city will be poured this weekend, all part of a competition to name the best homemade beer in NYC. After sampling the contenders, guests can decide a People’s Choice winner; judges will also hand out prizes for top brew. Food truck favorite Solber Pupusas will provide a plate of food to all attendees. Tickets are $45 .

Mario Batali and Mark Bittman with Sam Sifton: Cooking Fast and Slow, 92 Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, Sunday, 7 p.m.

A panel of the food industry’s finest will meet to talk about the benefits of slow food, with a few recipes shared along the way. The New York Times writer Mark Bittman and chef Mario Batali will chat with former food critic Sam Sifton, and Sifton and Bittman will sign copies of their latest books. Secure your seat for $45 through the Y’s website.

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This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 9/15/2014

Take a bite out of the Big Apple and check out this week’s five top food events — a list that includes a free happy hour.

Eat in Astoria Food Festival, Astoria Bank, 30-16 30th Avenue, Queens, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Astoria may forever be tied to its popular Greek eats, but the first ever Astoria restaurant week promises to offer a lot more than baklava. Restaurants like the Sparrow Tavern and Pachanga Patterson will offer a selection of bites at the festival’s opening night gala, and specials will be available through September 28. Tickets to Tuesday’s event are $49 and include access to unlimited food and drink.

Kombucha Making Class, Bushwick Food Co-op, 2 Porter Avenue, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

For $30 — $15 if you’re a co-op member — you will learn how to properly ferment sweet tea and put bacteria to good use. All ingredients will be provided by the co-op, and participants will take a fresh batch of kombucha home.

Words on Whiskey, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Need a drink to celebrate hump day? Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Kings County Distillery, will lead a discussion on whiskey scandals and read select passages from his book Guide to Urban Moonshining, after which guests can enjoy a tour and tasting at the distillery. Tickets are just $5.

Free Pop-Up — Swedish Craft Beer Tasting, Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, Thursday, noon

As part of the week-long festivities of the NORTH Festival, Brooklyn Brewery is hosting a free happy hour from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday. The brewery will pour selections from its Stockholm-based sister operation Nya Carnegiebryggeriet — the first American-operated craft brewery in Europe. Reservations are free.

The Joy of Sake, The Altman Building, 135 West 18th Street, Thursday, 6 p.m.

Sake is in season this week as nearly 357 labels from all over Japan and 13 from the U.S will appear under one roof. Chefs from Brushstroke and 15 East will prepare dishes designed to accentuate the flavors of select sakes. Tickets are $100 and include access to unlimited tastings and food.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 8/29/2014

If you’re not the barbecue and beach type — or, perhaps, if you’d prefer not to be stuck in traffic — check out one of these activities, the best food and drink events happening around town.

North Brooklyn Farms Harvest Carnival, North Brooklyn Farms, 329 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday, noon

Take part in a watermelon eating contest or square dance the afternoon away at this family-friendly affair, which also offers carnival games for all ages. The event will also have food and drink available for purchase, with a flea market and hayrides scheduled to take place, too. Though the event is free to enter, the best move might be to purchase a ticket for $10, which gets you unlimited access to games and field day activities.

Sweet Spot Festival, Pier 1 Riverside Park, West 70th Street at Riverside Boulevard, Saturday, 2 p.m.

The final fiesta this summer offers attendees a great excuse to break out the picnic blanket and enjoy a free afternoon of live music. Feast from food trucks, explore a vintage market, and take in an amazing view of the water, or partake in a few planned fitness sessions.

New Orleans Jazz and Gumbo Brunch, St. Mazie Bar & Supper Club, 345 Grand Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 11 a.m.

This Brooklyn bar turns into a Big Easy retreat on Sundays. Tuck into $5 bowls of gumbo — courtesy of a rotating cast of chefs — and wash the food down with pitchers of bloody marys and Pimm’s cups for $35. Live bands play throughout the day, and after brunch, guests are invited to partake in swing dance lessons. Reservations are complimentary.

Roberta’s Inaugural Jerk Off & Bikini Bike Wash, Roberta’s, 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 1 p.m.

The devious minds at Roberta’s are offering up their infamous wood burning pizza along with a set by DJ Spliffington at this eclectic event, a bikini bike wash for those in need. The event also includes some old-fashioned jerk barbecue and is free to attend; the festivities run until 9 p.m.

Back to Skool Trivia Night, Katch Astoria, 31-19 Newtown Avenue, Queens, Sunday, 7 p.m.

If you’re a teacher facing the pain that is the beginning of the school year, brush up on your trivia expertise over two-for-one SingleCut brews. Teams can enjoy the beer special from 7 p.m. to midnight. Katch’s regular beer list will be available, too, in addition to a full menu of pub grub.

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This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 7/3/2014

Tropical storm or no, a long holiday weekend involving hot dogs and beer is still something to get excited about. Here are five food events that you should take into consideration if you’re sticking around.

Delaney BBQ to Go, Briskettown, 359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday

If you’re in need of a last minute solution to an impromptu party, consider ribs and brisket by the pound. Daniel Delaney’s smokehouse is offering both via pre-order; food will be ready for pick-up at 11 a.m. on the 4th. Place your order today only on Briskettown’s website.

Jersey City’s Freedom and Fireworks Festival, Liberty State Park, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ, Friday, noon

A long weekend is the perfect time to explore a new neighborhood, and Jersey City is rewarding visitors and residents with an all day festival that will culminate with the Grucci fireworks show surrounding Lady Liberty. Food trucks, carnival games, and a free concert are all part of the event; the fireworks show starts after 9 p.m.

Hot Dog Eating Contest After Party, Professor Thom’s, 219 Second Avenue, Friday, 7 p.m.

If you can’t make it to Coney Island, hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut will be kicking back at this East Village bar. The bar is also celebrating the fireworks’ return to the east side with beer specials and is known to throw some pretty epic costume parties — so break out those American flag pants from college.

Oliver’s Astoria Summer Fundraiser — Inaugural Cornhole Tournament, Oliver’s, 37-19 Broadway, Queens, Saturday, noon

Loosen up the arm and be ready to flex some muscles — beer-drinking kind included — with a summer charity cornhole tournament. For $50, guests can play for cash prizes and attempt to claim the title of champion while enjoying happy hour specials like $4 brews and $5 appetizers. Don’t feel like playing? Stop by to cheer on or boo teams. Be sure to register in advance.

SingleCut Beersmith’s Independence Day Celebration, 19-33 37th Street, Queens, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Celebrate your post-holiday hangover with more beer and BBQ, as this Astoria brewery will be keeping the door open to anyone who wanders in looking in for a drink special. Eclectic East Village craft beer pairing expert Jimmy’s No. 43 is bringing its smoker to Queens for a grand cookout, and the brewery plans to run drink specials every hour until 5 p.m.

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Oscar Parties and Mardi Gras Are the Stars of This Weekend’s Events

Will March come in like a lion and go out like a lamb this year? Whatever animal we’re riding into spring, it’s making us hungry for a few food events. Here are several happening this weekend.

Hoboken St. Paddy’s Day Celebration, multiple locations, Saturday

One of Hoboken’s most notorious events, this all day affair celebrates St. Patrick’s day early with live music, food, and plenty of Guinness. Over thirty bars and restaurants are confirmed to participate, though don’t expect to hit them all — this party comes with massive crowds. Additional information, as well as ticket package prices, can be viewed on the event’s website.

MardigrAstoria, Astoria VFW Hall, 31-35 41 Street, Queens, Sunday, 2 p.m.

For $15, spend your Sunday afternoon immersed in the sounds of a big brass band while snacking on jambalaya and king cake. The event also includes face painting as well as beer and wine, and the first drink comes with the price of a ticket.

Oscar Viewing Parties, multiple locations, Sunday

Celebrate the Oscars with a night on the town. Both locations of The Windsor will be offering complimentary glasses of champagne with the order of an entree and will broadcast the show live starting at 6 p.m. Southwest NY will begin the festivities at 4 p.m. with a selection of Oscar inspired specials like the Captain Phillips rum runner. And Gotham West Market will screen the show on multiple projectors throughout the space.

Japanese Beer Tasting, APT-13, 115 Avenue C, Sunday, 5 p.m.

Continuing New York City’s beer week festivities, this tasting will focus on Japanese breweries like Sapporo and Ginga Kogen. Local favorite Brooklyn Brewery will out Sorachi Ace as well, and adventurous drinkers can get into some beer cocktails. A selection of hors d’ouevres from chef John Keller are also included in the tasting. Tickets are $20 in advance.