Sour Beer, Japanese Wrestlers & Burgers – Drinking with Burger Weekly

Sometimes you meet someone and you just click, like instant homies. Well, if you know anything about me, I love a good burger and I have a lot of very credible sources who will attest that  my burger game is strong.  So when I met Brad Garoon (the man behind Burger Weekly) we just clicked; not only because of burgers, but we share a bond of being super critical of the hospitality industry in NYC and can talk about service and quality at bars and restaurants for days. Oh, yeah and because he also tried to help me hit on a really handsome (as he called him “rugged”) guy on the 6 train. That will have to be filed in the missed connections section, but if you’re out there rugged guy on the 6, I was the one wearing a camo beanie and hot pink lipstick.

But back to the burgers. Burger Weekly is truly THE source for all things burger in NYC and Brad lives it.  He is super picky about his burgers and I have witnessed him tell the Chef to his face about what he would change, hint he likes LTO on the side for the most part and doesn’t care too much for carrots.  I have so much respect for Brad and burger palate and how hard he works on his passion and super proud to say he has a book that is truly the definitive guide to all things burgers in New York City!

Check it out Burger City and follow him on socials if you love good burger porn or #burgraphy as he calls it and without further ado, let’s go Drinking With Burger Weekly.

Favorite NY spot to hang for a drink or 10?

I live in Greenpoint, and truly think it’s the best neighborhood in New York. So I try as often as I can to get people to meet me near my place. Nights and weekends is my “meet me one block away from my apartment,” go-to, but I love grabbing a few at The Richardson.

Favorite place to take an out-of-town imbiber?

A little farther north is the Moonlight Mile. The place has a great beer menu, amazing American whiskey cocktails, a free jukebox, and the nicest folks you’ll ever meet behind the bar. No matter where someone’s from, they’re going to feel at home there.

Favorite go-to drinkorder?

I’m in the process of falling down a very deep sour beer rabbit hole right now. If there’s a Flanders Red, Gose, or an Oud Bruin on the menu, I’m getting it. Once I get over this phase I’m sure I’ll go back to ordering IPAs and Old Fashioneds.

You’re known for your burger expertise. How did this start?

I was a picky eater as a kid. Really picky. After moving to New York I opened up my food-mind and now I can’t believe there was a time when there was a kind of food that I wouldn’t eat. But hamburgers, one of my childhood staples, truly stuck with me. An ex-girlfriend sent me a list that Grub Street had put together of nearly 100 notable burgers in New York City.

This was a couple years before the burger boom took off, so it was rare to read anyone talking about burgers beyond Corner Bistro, JG Melon, Burger Joint, and Shake Shack. A buddy and I started going through the list once a week, and at his suggestion we wrote about our experiences in a blog. He got engaged and stopped contributing, but at that point I’d already sacrificed my wellbeing for the blog, so Burger Weekly continues to exist.

What do you typically like to pair with a classic style burger?

With a straight up, old fashioned cheeseburger all I want is a refreshing beer to wash it down (as I inevitably eat it entirely too quickly). I’m talking Amber Ales and American Pale Ales here.

First alcoholic drink you ever had…but really, what were you drinking the first time you got drunk?

Sorry, Mom. A group of kids from my neighborhood would sneak out a lot when we were 12 and 13, mix together whatever we could get our hands on, and then feel terrible the next day. Typical kid stuff. I actually didn’t drink at all during high school and the beginning of college because of my PTSD from the taste of that swill.

Any great cocktail spots with a rad burger worth recommending?

Dead Drop has good cocktails and a weird, funky Black Burger. I think the color of the thing is keeping people from talking about it, but I thought it was great. And as a recovering Burger King junkie, I’m a fan of Happiest Hour‘s burger as well.

Coffee or tea?

I actually stay away from caffeine as a loosely enforced of a rule, and have never had a full cup of coffee. Three Oreo cookies and I’m bouncing off the wall.

What’s your hangover remedy?

Eggs and buttery bread, a bagel and lox, or a run if I’m feeling uncharacteristically motivated.

 Any peeps you think are doing good stuff for the drinks industry?

  • Garry Embry at the Moonlight Mile — Makes a point to meet everyone, find out what they like, and make sure they’re having a good time at his place.
  • Jordan Schwartz and Greg Buda at The Up & Up — Where else are you going to get a chance to talk to two guys about inappropriate Star of David attire and plant biology while drinking cocktails?
  • The dudes at Analogue — I love ending my night at this place, and the guys behind the bar are a huge reason. Really friendly and knowledgeable.

Best spots to eat a burger when you are drinking, or let’s be honest, drunk?

I’ve never had a Corner Bistro burger sober, and I can’t think of a single reason to start now. On the flip side, I was pretty inebriated when I had the burger at Cherche Midi, and I think that spoiled my enjoyment of it.

Where is your fave spot for an NYC super chill night or date spot when burgers are off the table?

In my single life, the Immigrant was great for dates because of the cozy nook in the back. They don’t serve burgers, but that was okay because I don’t eat burgers on a first date. I actually had a lot of burger related dating rules. These days I like to end a night out with the First Lady of Burger Weekly at Analogue. It’s cozy, the live jazz is groovy, and the bartenders are tops.

Under the radar or underrated NYC gems?

I don’t know if it’s underrated, because those who know about Tanoshi go crazy for it. It’s a BYO omakase sushi joint on the Upper East Side and it’s glorious.

What are you most proud of in your career thus far?

Burger City, my new ebook guide to all things hamburger-related in NYC, is something that I put a lot into and really hope that others get a lot out of it. Also, when Burger Weekly began, a friend mentioned that he thought the concept was great, but predicted that it would be short-lived like most cool things on the internet. I’ve used that to keep myself motivated at times when I feel burned out on blogging, and I’m really happy to have stuck with it.

Do you have a mentor(s) or someone you look up to who inspired you to get into Burger Weekly?

When I started Burger Weekly, everything that I did was based on my time as a blogger covering Japanese professional wrestling. I was writing about food the same way that I used to write about Shingo Takagi’s battles against Masaaki Mochizuki (don’t bother Googling that). As time went on I started meeting more people in the New York City burger world. There are more of us than you’d imagine. David “Rev” Ciancio, formerly of the hamburger blog Burger Conquest and currently the marketing brain behind Schweid & Sons beef, has been a huge influence and a great supporter, and I make very few big decisions related to Burger Weekly without running them by him.

If you weren’t covering burgers, what other food or drink would you be all about?

People make fun of me a lot because my personal Instagram feed is littered with #bgloves hashtags. At this point, #bgloves ramen, dessert, tunes, thedrink, sandwiches, and pizza. If it weren’t for burgers, I’d probably have to cover all of the remaining foods I love to fill that hole in my soul.

Rumor has it that you are serious about philanthropy and your heritage, anything people should know about to raise awareness of?

I feel very lucky to be associated with a group called JDC Entwine, the young adult arm of the oldest and largest Jewish humanitarian organization, the Joint Distribution Committee. The JDC celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. In those 100 years, the JDC has given humanitarian relief to countless individuals and communities in over 80 countries around the world. In my short time with the group, I have traveled to Ukraine to see how the JDC helps families affected by the conflict in Donbass, and to India to meet children from the slums of Mumbai who are getting an education thanks to the JDC and a local group called Gabriel Project Mumbai.

The JDC helps both Jewish communities in crisis and non-Jewish communities affected by disaster. Later this year, JDC Entwine will take a group of young Jewish professionals to the Philippines on a service trip in response to last year’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan. It gives me a lot of pride to be a small part of this wonderful organization.

Straight update & shameless plug time: what are you working on these days? Let’s hear all about all of it!

I just published Burger City: The Ultimate New York City Hamburger Guide. It’s available now on amazon, here.

In it you’ll find cautionary tales to keep you away from the burger mistakes that people so often make in NYC.  It also has top 10 lists for every neighborhood in Manhattan, for Brooklyn, for Queens, for Long island. It has hamburger insight for people who are interested in burger buns, in food trucks, in veggie burgers, and in gourmet burgers. It also contains knowledge from the best hamburger slinging chefs in New York City about their processes. It’s basically the culmination of my entire time working on Burger Weekly.

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Rael Petit New York CityNatasha David Nitecap