The Thursday Style section of the New York Times has a lovely running column called "Boite," in which a new bar is profiled in a series of piquant bullet points. I've always admired it. Recently, I got to write one. Here it is:
BOITE: Dear Bushwick
By ROBERT SIMONSON
THOUGH its name reads like a mash note to another up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood, Dear Bushwick pays homage to Britain, where Julian Mohamed, one of its owners, grew up. Pictures of kings, churches and somebody’s ancestors hang on the walls. And the menu offers Anglocentric spirits along with English favorites like pasty and chocolate stout pudding.
On Nov. 5, it was perhaps the only bar in New York to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, bonfire and all. If the twee Greenwich Village mainstay Tea & Sympathy were given a transfusion of hot Brooklyn blood (and a mixologist), it might end up looking like this.
THE PLACE While not far from Tandem and the Narrows, two other pioneering Bushwick bars, Dear Bushwick feels like an outpost, a warm, inviting stab of light on an otherwise dark, desolate block. The shotgun space has a few tables in front and a few in the back, with a long bar down the middle. The ceiling is pressed tin, the chair rails are made of old wooden shutters and the lighting fixtures are old milk bottles. English-tearoom touches notwithstanding, the décor is unmistakably Brooklyn: casual, cool and knowing. A largish yard out back will be used in warmer weather.
THE CROWD The clientele is young, slim and good-looking. If you’re in your mid-30s, you’ll rank as an elder statesman. Tattoos and beards abound. One man sports a porkpie hat, another the requisite knit cap. A recent female patron was self-crowned with a tiara. All are friendly and laid back, mingling and chatting easily with the staff.
THE PLAYLIST You’ve got to hand it to a bar secure enough to not only play Bing Crosby, but Crosby’s duets with the Andrews Sisters. The owners wanted a soundtrack that took a back seat to the drinking and dining, making this a rare Brooklyn bar where you can hear yourself think.
GETTING IN A bouncer would be counterproductive. On most weeknights, you can walk right in and get a seat. On weekends, there might be a wait for a table, but a short one.
DRINKS The cocktail list puts the traditional English favorites of gin, sherry and rum to good use. The bracing Campari and lime-laced Brave Benbow ($10) employs not only navy-strength gin but its sweeter cousin, Old Tom Gin. The deceptively strong Clutch Powers ($10) is a mix of apple brandy, Irish whiskey, bitter Cocchi Americano and sweet apricot liqueur. It comes on like a smooth punch to the brain. And, of course, there’s a house spin on the Pimm’s Cup.