Kokie's: history of Brooklyn's infamous cocaine bar


In the late 1990s, Kokie's Place was a legendary Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar where a guy would sell you cocaine from a closet in the back. A few years ago, Vice magazine presented an oral history of this vibrant, strange Puerto Rican dive bar where salsa dancers, hipsters, bikers, and addicts played in the snow. It's a fascinating, funny article that also touches on the insanely-fast gentrification of Williamsburg. By the way, the name of the bar isn't a reference to cocaine but rather to the coquí, a frog endemic to Puerto Rico. From Vice:

JERRY P: The coke was stepped on like crazy. I think it was cut with meth, because it lasted so fucking long. I personally didn’t mind it.

BRIAN F: It was convenient living nearby because the coke was so awful. As soon as I did a bump I would run home, shit my brains out, and then come back refreshed and ready for more.

MEG SNEED: The coke there was pretty bad, true, but it was such a pleasant place to be. A real positive atmosphere and community feeling. I even thought about hanging out there without drugs once or twice. Of course I never did.

LUCY P: I don’t know if I ever talked to anybody there who I didn’t know, but I felt as though I could’ve. And it wasn’t just the drugs. There was a sense that everybody was there to enjoy some sort of desperate eked-out freedom. As though a line had been crossed into comity. You know, the purity of purpose people shared.

STEVE L: The first time I walked in there, I could see that all the action was in the disco room, where a crowd of mostly middle-aged Puerto Rican mamis were dancing around to what sounded like electro-Merengue. One of them, in a hot-peach tube top, bleached cut-offs, and espadrilles dragged me out on the floor to get down with her. I must have pranced with every orange-haired lady in the place.

"Please Snort Me"


  1. I used to live a few blocks from Kokie’s.  A friend told me she’d walked in on a couple of cops having a bump in the back.  They carded her, then looked the other way.  I guess you had to be 21 to buy coke.

  2. LOL! Been there. Done that .. as the saying goes, except I didn’t do THAT. 

    Actually it was a nice place to go to if you wanted a decent time with decent music. Music was why I was there. I had an acquaintance that played the vibes in a Latin band that played there (in I guess was what the post commenter referred to as the disco room – the room behind the bar ‘room.’ 

    Anyway, the people were really friendly. Being a dork who can’t dance but can shake the butt if really drunk, I was actually patted on the back by a Latin patron for my Latin dancing (imitating a geisha doing small back and forth step walking while shaking my butt!). 

    No coke for me (that was what the line to les toilettes was for). Just booze. Coke (I should clarify – Coca Cola) was sold in what might as well have been ’50s bottles – 6 oz. Best to stick to the hard stuff – ethanol based. Probably cheaper too.

    One Williamsburger (not the burger at the Right Bank) joked that across the street was a bar called Crackies.

    The beloved and sorely missed Right Bank – 

    Rocky and his friend (“Kat”)

  3. Ugh, Vice. The try-hardiest of the try hards. Always attempts to be so fucking edgy. Drugs! Sex! Faux-literariness!!

  4. My old local in Calgary, Alberta was like this, but with weed. What an awesome, friendly place the Red Onion was, so many good times there… (10th Street in Sunnyside, but unfortunately it’s gone now)

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