Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Brooklyn Cocktail Wave

The New York Sun today published my thumbnail survey of the new (and I mean new) Brooklyn cocktail scene. In the past six months, three major cocktail joints—all on a par with the best of the Manhattan places, or at least getting there—have opened in the Borough of Kings: the Hideout, Weather Up and Jake Wake. On its way is the The Clover Club, which has been under construction for months on Smith Street. It could well overshadow the others once it gets up and running.

I've been to all of these, and like each for different reasons. The Hideout is closest the secretive, elite aesthetic you get at PDT or Milk & Honey. Weather Up is attractive because of its outpost aura; it's really in the middle of nowhere. Jake Walk is good is you just to sit back and be yourself, free from the judging eyes of poseurs. Welcome all!

Brooklyn’s Artisanal Cocktails

Brooklyn residents no longer have to trek to Manhattan and knock on specific unmarked doors below 14th Street to get a perfectly made Sazerac. The cocktail revolution, which has reintroduced a generation to the historical and artisanal joys of tippling, has crossed the bridge in recent months. One of the most anticipated new watering holes, Cobble Hill’s Clover Club — from the creators of Manhattan’s Flatiron Lounge — won’t be open for a couple months. But here are three others that are stocked and ready to pour.

The Hideout

Following the psuedo-speakeasy aesthetic so popular across the East River, this snug, swank tavern sits behind three garage doors in a former 19th-century stable. Vaunted British-born mixologist Charlotte Voisey was drafted to fashion the cocktail menu — drinks are $12–$14 each — currently marked by high amounts of fresh muddled fruit and invention (rose petal-infused simple syrup). Co-owner Asio Highsmith, who points out that none of the scotches on hand are younger than 12 years, commented: “We don’t make mojitos.” (266 Adelphi St. at DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene, 718-855-3010)

Weather Up

For this oasis on a desolate block in Prospect Heights, owner Kathryn Weathup joined forces with Sasha Petraske, who, like Ms. Voisey, helped shape Manhattan’s cocktail culture; he runs Milk and Honey on the Lower East Side and Little Branch in the West Village. The bar has started out slowly, with just a few featured libations, and plans to venture into wine. Signature drink: the Weather Up ($15), a potion made of amaretto, cognac, and lemon juice. Only two a customer are allowed — and that’s a good thing. (589 Vanderbilt Ave. at Dean Street, Prospect Heights, no phone number yet)

Jake Walk

Patrick Watson and Michele Pravda, owners of a mini mercantile empire on Smith Street that includes wine shop Smith & Vine and the cheese store Stinky, are behind this new saloon. Fittingly, the cocktail program shares the spotlight with a choice wine list and delectable cheese plates. Still, any bar that features both a Star (apple brandy, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters) and a Bijou (gin, Chartreuse, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters) — two classic, pre-Prohibition-era drinks ($9 each) — on the same menu knows its way around a cocktail shaker. (282 Smith St. at Sackett Street, Carroll Gardens, 347-599-0294)

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