PreservationNation continues its historic bars series with America’s takes on the beer-brewing bodegas that originally sprouted in the Fatherland. Today's stop: New York City.
Infused with traditional Czech and Slovak culture, a wide array of international beers, and live local music, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden -- the oldest of its kind in New York City -- is a quintessential summer hangout.
Owned and managed by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria, the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden opened its doors in 1910 and has been serving the community for more than 100 years (even through Prohibition). Founded as a central community gathering place for Czech and Slovak immigrants, it soon became a home for people of Czech and Slovak ancestry to maintain their cultural traditions while blending with American lifestyle, an intention that still holds true today.
After polishing off a few mugs (or pitchers) of the Krusovice or Pilsner Urquell, patrons can meander through the side rooms and chambers of the building, where the walls are lined with traditional Czech flags and signs, or grab a spot on one of the long picnic tables in the enormous outdoor garden to feast on local favorite dishes like potato pancakes or klobasa while listening to the crowd chuckle from a standup comedian.
There’s never a shortage of entertainment at Bohemian Hall; the venue hosts an annual Czech and Slovak Festival filled with live entertainment and authentic cuisine to celebrate the history of the culture. And back by popular demand, the quiet clubbing "Battle of the DJs" has become a biweekly party where patrons can dance to their choice of three DJs via a personal set of headphones.
Not a dancer? Fear not, the beer garden has a stage that’s often occupied by Czech or local bands, for those who want to sit back and absorb the rich character of Bohemian Hall while they drink their frosty brews.
This place certainly has a little bit of something for everyone, but if you can’t check it out for yourself, here are some quick facts.
Location: 2919 24th Ave., Astoria, New York 11102
Hours: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m. (Mon-Thurs), 5 p.m. – 3 a.m. (Fri-Sat), 12 p.m. – 1 a.m. (Sun)
Beer Advocate Bar Score: 87 (very good)
Best Yelp Review: “The best kept secret in Queens. What else can you ask for ... great food, beer and atmosphere. You can spend the whole afternoon sitting outside at those long picnic tables listening to live music and drinking pitchers of delicious Czech beer! I enjoyed this place even more than the beer gardens we went to in Munich.”
Bonus: Explore Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden with Richard Christy (The Howard Stern Show) as he discovers the quirks and history of New York City’s oldest beer garden.
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