Being from Florida, I’m pretty accustomed to all things bizarre, misunderstood, and meth-addled. The Levee is no exception. Today, the bar is more of an attraction than a legitimate dive destination, but when I first moved to Brooklyn back in 2010, it was everything. Like Herbie, the bar is fully loaded with entertainment. Traditional Jenga is cast aside in favor of a Sharpie-scribbled Drunken Tower, the Buck Hunter machine operates, but the aim is so uncalibrated that only the most inebriated Southern transplant could ever stand a chance, and playing the nude Photo Hunt invokes the same feeling you once had when stumbling across a stack of discarded Playboy’s in some weird old dude’s recycling bin.
Beer/shot combos are aplenty, low-end, and stereotypically named after the people who would order them; a Texas Two Step (Lone Star + tequila shot), for instance, clocks in at $5. For eats, they offer unlimited plastic bowls of cheeseballs and what is perhaps, simultaneously, the best and worst hot dog I’ve ever had. On one occasion, my birthday, I exited the establishment… a bit over-served I suppose, and proceeded to pee my initials on the sidewalk before gracefully & flawlessly jumping through a yellow cab’s window when he denied my request for a lift home. As my girlfriend stood watching, impressed, but, like, TOTALLY NOT IMPRESSED, I knew this place was magical. She’s still with me, two years later. Did the Levee have anything to do with the longevity of our love connection? Maybe not. But maybe, just maybe, it did. -- Alex Robinson, editor, Supercompressor
For the first 15 years, I didn’t know it had a front door. My Grandfather, Ray Tuller, basically lived in the Prince. He ate there AT LEAST four times a week, and probably drank there more. We always parked in a lot in the back, and would wander through an unmarked door, Goodfellas-style, passing older waitresses changing for their shifts, which is not as hot as it sounds. And miraculously, every night, the back table kitty-cornering the bar was always there, waiting for us. If you think that sort of thing is sweet now, imagine being six-years old. I’ve never felt so cool. But that bar though... it’s a hand-crafted wooden bar built in 1935 and adorned with thousands of ornate, hand-painted steins crowding every nook and crevice. Once I was finally of age(ish) and at college 20 minutes away in Hartford, I’d come in with my Grandfather, and we’d sit at said bar eating fried cheese with sweet-hot mustard, drinking boots of “half and halfs” of light and dark German beer, and just talk shit.
My Grandfather was one of the great sophists, a man who would take the opposite side of an issue strictly because agreement was boring, and he’d verbally dismantle you, mostly with logic, or, if that didn’t work, bluster. We’d sit at that bar for hours, me drinking steins, him switching to Beefeater and soda, and go through politics, sports, and history. Then he’d get bored of talking to me, and find Rupprecht, the owner, or, later, his son Rudi, and harangue them in German (he was a translator during WWII). When my Grandfather died in 2009, I gave the eulogy, then we all went to the Prince, sat up at the bar, ordered half and halfs, and talked shit. It was what he would’ve wanted, even if we did embarrass him by coming through the front. -- Kevin Alexander, executive editor, National Food/Drink