Weather Up is a speakeasy-style bar in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. For the uninformed, speakeasies were illegal establishments that served liquor during the time of prohibition in the 1900s when the sale and purchase of alcohol was prohibited by law. These kinds of bars are hidden from normal view, some of which required a password for entry.
Weather Up was built in that style. While most people discover this place from friends who took them there, ours is (always) a special story. From 2003-2007, we lived in a duplex brownstone in Park Slope and walked our dog Greta at least three times a day. Next door a dog named Lily, a fellow pitbull with a beautiful tan coat, would bark from the window or come rushing out to say hi to Greta. Lily belonged to a guy whose name we never asked. He was dating a tall blonde model-esque lady and they walked Lily together for a year or so, until she disappeared and was replaced by another model-esque black woman who I guess became his girlfriend. (Where is this story going?!)
When we moved out of that house and into our new apartment in Prospect Heights, we took a walk to Vanderbilt avenue and bumped into Lily’s owner and said hello. He was coming out from a store’s basement stairs up to the sidewalk when we asked him if he kept a studio there.
“Actually no. I’m building a bar. Come, let me show you.”
He opened the door of a nondescript store, visible only to the outside world as a plain facade covered with subway tiles. Inside were the beginnings of a fantastic idea – vintage bar stools, a long copper countertop, glass shelves with brass posts and a sign that said, “All gamblers and loose women bound for New Orleans must register with the Captain.”
“You should come back when it opens.”
We did stop by a few weeks later and learned the place was called Weather Up. We saw the blonde ex-girlfriend come up from the basement stairs once and she happened to recognize us. Turns out her name is Kathryn Weatherup (how cool is that?!), and she co-owns the bar with her ex. We got served Brambles, which is what we order almost exclusively when we stop by unless they are out of fresh blackberries. Brambles are fresh, with a bite of lemon, enough sweetness and a kick that would make you understand the bar’s name after one drink.
Weather Up is one of those NYC establishments that are easy to hate with their $12-14 drinks and metal straws and fancy blocks of ice. But it takes a certain kind of crowd to appreciate the art over its neighbors’ half-assed gin-and-tonics. It’s a place we definitely cherish, and I guess we are not alone. Weather Up has since opened a branch in TriBeCa, and in Austin, Texas. Hopefully the new establishments will not dilute the original experience in Prospect Heights.
There is no sign at Weather Up, fortunately hiding it from tourists and sports bar crowds. There is a clear square patch in the corner of one of the frosted windows, and if you look inside you’ll see the amber lighting, copper counters, brass posts, dark leather seats and lots of old, old wood. But before that you’ll smell the oaky sweetness of strong liquor, an introduction only to the musty feel once you enter the bar and see the mixologist bartenders at work with their early 1900s dresses, vests and curly mustaches. A first glimpse lets your senses know that you know you’re definitely ready to get weathered up.
589 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11238