Drinks »Beloved

bel674 Manhattan Ave  Brooklyn

On these frigidly cold past weeks I’ve seen the darkened walls of Beloved more than any others (besides my home). I need to get a few cocktails with Mike and Shaun in before leaving and beat cabin fever so the close location of this new cocktail bar is ideal.

But it’s not just proximity that makes it worth a mention, the drinks are good (the lemony DB Cooper being a personal favorite) and, at least early on in the evening (my days of bar hopping past 9pm are long gone), it’s a nice environment to relax with booze and friends.

Once a Polish-only drinking hole, Beloved fits the mold of  the “new” post-Girls Greenpoint. Sure it’s a bit predicable in its schmancy Brooklyn vibe, but it’s also inviting and will service the area’s new generation of cocktail sippers nicely.

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Posted on February 4, 2013

Drinks »The Shanty

photo-2At the corner of Leonard and Richardson Streets in Brooklyn

An upscale cocktail bar with signature concoctions isn’t exactly what Williamsburg is hurting for, but when it’s as inviting and delicious as The Shanty, it’s more than welcome.

The menu demands tough choices (it all sounds tempting) but so far, everything friends and I have tried has been good enough to recommend. There’s a new seasonal menu already up on their site since my last visit, though,  so I can’t direct you to the exact wonderful concoction I enjoyed.

The main reason the drinks here are special is that the bar is actually secondary to the attached distillery run by a team of booze experts. It churns out the Perry’s Tot and Dorothy Parker gins used in the drinks which are also available at local shops.

While your likely to rub shoulders with more than one spirits snob, at least you know your in the right place to get a fantastic cocktail, possibly the best in the area.

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Posted on January 22, 2013

Drinks »Trix

145 Bedford Ave

For months, nay years, we’ve been walking past the work in progress that has become Trix – deriding and speculating about what looked to be a most bizarre labor of love.

We’d spy an old guy hammering tin for weeks at a time, witnessed the sidewalk get caged in by bars, saw a stained glass window go in touting the words “go go”?

One day, sometime in year two, a small hand written sign appeared on store front eliciting help in typing a short story and we couldn’t help but wonder, what was going on with this place?

We saw innumerable places open, some even open and close by the time Trix was ready for the public and when that day finally came, we knew we had to stop in during a recent date night.

We were expecting it to be weird and it is – really weird. Like, can’t really be described weird.

It looks like an unfinished set inspired by cinema of the late 80’s and early 90’s (Beetlejuice and Cool World perhaps). There’s a mixture of the building’s history as a go-go club (hence the sign and stripper murals), art nouveau, and folksy crafts, all conjured up by the mind and artisan-ship of one particular and peculiar vision.

From a spider web sculpture above the bar to a creepy portrait of a woman that reminds me of the portrait of a dead wife one might find in a haunted house movie from the 70’s (see yawning Jim photo below), the decor is confused and bizarre.

We were thoroughly expecting to hate the place, honestly. I thought we’d share a joke about “Trix” and call it a night, but as strange as the place is, it’s also incredibly inviting, mellow, got an interesting cocktail (I had something with bison vodka and blackberries) and beer menu, and serves some of the finest, biggest oysters I’ve had in a while. Even our friends, Mike and Shaun, far harsher critics than we are enjoyed their visit.

Word is that all the food is good, and they serve brunch every single day – which is pretty genius in a neighborhood of the willfully unemployed.

The staff genuinely seems happy to be there and happy you’ve come in. To my utter surprise, I am looking forward to going back and maybe getting brunch next time.

Long live Trix! It took so long to come to the neighborhood, I hope more people discover it like I have so it sticks around. It’s not “cool” but it’s also not obnoxious like some “cool” places can get.

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Posted on June 25, 2011

Drinks »Mommy’s Spritzer

Summery and Light

We call this drink the Mommy Spritzer because I can have one while I am over at Mike and Shaun’s and be fine to breast feed by the time we get home.

It consists of one part campari to 2.5 parts club soda with a huge squeeze of lemon juice and a  lemon slice on top (which I forgot to include in the photo) all over ice.

I am sure there’s a real name for it, but I haven’t been able to find it online, so I am sticking with the Mommy Spritzer.

It’s light, low on alcohol, and refreshing; but unlike many summery cocktails, Campari’s bitterness stops it from being too sweet.

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Posted on June 10, 2011

Drinks,Restaurants »The Counting Room

44 Berry Street, Williamsburg

I have to preface that my experience of The Counting Room may be very different from yours, unless you too go to bars in the early afternoon when the neighborhood babies along with their booze starved parents take over. So don’t blame me if it’s full of techno and 19 year old jerks at midnight.

During this time, it’s a bright, lovely space with soaring ceilings, picnic tables, and chic barn light fixtures.

I was itching for a cocktail – but those don’t make their appearance until after 6pm, so I went for the Bloody Wilbur, a bacon infused (what isn’t bacon infused at this point) bloody mary that was pretty good, but not mind blowing and very weak as far as the vodka goes.

Much more impressive was the beer list which included the incredibly tasty and surprisingly American Domaine DuPage French Style Country Ale, a brew I will be keeping my out for from now on. It won over everyone at our table.

The food was also a pleasant surprise. Going far beyond expected bar food that can taste like an after thought, everything we tried was excellent: a well adorned sopressata sandwich on criso French bread, and yummy, slightly lemony deviled eggs.

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Posted on January 30, 2011

Drinks »Little Italy

Whiskey Cocktail

After months on the wagon, I dove right into the alcohol pool deep end by allowing Shaun to mix me one of his infamously potent drinks. Called The Little Italy, it consists of whiskey, sweet vermouth, Cynar (an aperitif derived from artichokes), and orange zest.

It packs a wollop and I have to admit I am the former shell of my old self drinking wise. I managed to only drink about a third of the glass, but it was enough to know this is one very fine cocktail.

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Posted on January 9, 2011

Drinks »McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix

From the Pickle Makers

Wow, this McClure’s Bloody Mary Mixer (perfect for those of us that can’t drinks but like the illusion) is not for the faint hearted. All of you the poo poo bland bloodies without kick? I’d be very surprised if you could find any fault here. Even as a pickle juice drinker, I have to cut it with some seltzer (made with my new soda stream, of course).

The pickle makers concoction boasts pickle brine (not surprising) as well as tomato paste, cucumber juice and spice.

The mix is sold out on line but can be found in various local retailers and markets.

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Posted on April 25, 2010

Drinks »Apotheke

9 Doyers Street

Like any good new wave speakeasy, Apotheke is hidden behind a nondescript old Chinatown storefront, down a small windy road (Doyers, one of my favorite streets in the city) and you’d never know it was there unless you were in the know.

Apotheke means pharmacy or drugstore, or a place for the art, practice or profession of preparing, preserving, compounding, and dispensing medical herbs, elixirs or potions. The team and theme here is appropriately medical and the staff plays along with lab coats and a menu that reads like old-timey makeshift healing elixirs.

The space is dark and snugly, but a bit on the contemporary side of its roots as an opium den. The walls are beautifully scruffy brick, the couches look plucked from a Victorian parlor and the bathroom has some quirky copper Fraggle Rock style pipes that are worth taking a look at. But that’s all surface, and none of it matters if the drinks are no good, but whatever it was I ordered (something frothy infused with tea, if I recall) was delicious. Might not be the best place with crowds on a Saturday night but I’d come back for an early drink with ambiance.

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Posted on January 31, 2010

Drinks »The Serendipity

My Mom’s Own

Inspired by a cocktail at Angel’s Share on a recent visit to the city, my mom went home and perfected her own take on the “serendipity”…
earl grey infused vodka, lillet, ginger-ale, lemon juice and a slice of lemon.

Use a measure of the infused vodka, 1/2 lillet, a squeeze of lemon juice, a slice of fresh lemon…all over ice…then fill the glass with ginger-ale.

We enjoyed this refreshing beverage all through the holidays.

Click here for the rest of The Serendipity

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Posted on January 24, 2010

Drinks »Manhattan Inn

manhattan inn632 Manhattan Ave

Manhattan Inn is a brand new piano and cocktail bar/restaurant with an impressive decor that evokes a rosy eyed old school New York and deserves a visit to see for yourself considering the low light offered little chance for my camera to capture it. Formerly Johnny’s Cafe, a local bar and restaurant that few of the neighborhood’s hip set would actually step in to, the new space will not continue to deter that crowd with its fancy cocktails, southern and Chinese inflected menu (they’re open for brunch, lunch and dinner) and speakeasy stylings.

We went early on a Saturday but were a bit disappointed to find the grand piano, which is the focal point of the lovely back room, was un-played – it was the only disappointment of the evening, though. The Warsaw Mermaid, made with green tea vodka, sake, creme de violette and lime juice, was pleasant (though too sweet fto consume more than one), so I switched to the Black Eyed Gibson, a tarragon infused delight with a small balsamic onion as garnish. It boasts a nice scent, a none too sweet taste and, dangerously, a clean finish with absolutely no after taste, making it very, very easy to drink. To go with our booze, we opted for the chicken liver pate which was delicious and hearty.

Gothamist and Eater have far nicer photos for you to peruse.

Click here for the rest of Manhattan Inn

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Posted on November 29, 2009

Drinks »Milk and Honey

milk and honey logo Here's what I said back on January 5th:
Tales of the ill-kept secret Milk and Honey bar, where at one time you could only enter if you had been given the ever changing phone number by an already trusted regular seemed the stuff of legend and had I not known people who had actually went through the hassle of obtaining the number, I probably would have let the famously exclusive Sasha Petraske hot spot remain off my radar and to do list forever.

See, I am not one for hassle and when I heard that they had changed their policy once again to make it where only members with a special key would be able to enjoy the hallowed dim cocktail walls, I knew that Milk and Honey was just a place I'd never see the inside of.

Fortunately for me, though, good friends are among the few who nabbed a key and they were kind enough to invite us there on Jim's Birthday. In a time when “speak easy” is the trend for drinking, this place trumps them all, as it should since it started the whole thing. The entrance is truly nondescript, even a bit sketchy: an unmarked beaten up thick gray steel door in a quiet apartment building, as you walk in you half expect that there's been some mistake and you'll end up in a stranger's living room past the thick curtains.

In fact, the space is not much larger than a living room and the ambiance is minimal: the lights are very dark, the booths are a bit battered and cozy, the music soft. I can't imagine the place would make any sort of real impression on those expecting a level of fanciness for all the secrecy, particularly if those lights were turned all the way up.

But superfluous decoration is beside the point of Milk and Honey, a bar truly and utterly devoted to the notion of substance over style. The experience here is about a civilized environment in which to enjoy perfect cocktails. Plus these expertly cocktails all cost $9; a price which is a steal compared to the $11-13 that absolutely everyone seems to think they can charge these days.

There are no crowds here and to our surprise, no menus either. You simply tell your kind and knowledgeable waiter what sort of drink you fancy and they come back with a custom made concoction. I opted for bourbon, starting with a frothy ginger spiced highball and moving on to a simplified take on the old fashioned. Jim found happiness in his beloved Chicago fizz.

It's a strange place in theory. In some ways it's a stand against the celebrity obsessed, over hyped bar scene. No name dropping or obnoxious behavior is tolerated, but at the same time, it's become an almost uncomfortably elitist corner of the city (in theory). After such a wonderfully pleasant evening there, however, I stepped outside and decided I may just enjoy being an elitist sometimes, so long as it means secret keys that open doors to places like Milk and Honey.

Voodoo Rootbeer
Agua Frescas
The Richardson
Lion's Tail
Temple Bar

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Posted on November 2, 2009

Drinks »Temple Bar

jalapeno mojito at temple barWhen my friend and co worker told me that Temple Bar got no sunlight, she wasn't joking. The place is as pitch dark as you can get with pops of light on each table. The result is a great place to drink cocktails and feel secluded at your table even with people surrounding you.

The cocktails are priced as expensively as anywhere else and I highly recommend the jalapeno mojito, which was refreshing and not overly sweet, even if it could have benefited from a bit more kick. The free snack of popcorn with dried beets and yams is almost worth the price of getting a cocktail alone. We plowed through several bowls over a couple drinks.

The front bar is surprisingly elegant in contrast to their noisy location and 1990s extreme Iced Tea style logo and would be an excellent place for romance.

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Posted on August 31, 2009

Drinks »Rusty Knot

Can you fault a place for its douchey clientele? Not when it's The Rusty Knot, which serves such a delightful menu. There are few places that offer so many of my favorite things: spicy beer (cerveza Cubana, their refreshing and flavorful take on the michelada) and sides of pickles and oysters; even in a sea of pleated khakis, halter tops and going-out-pants, we had a great time.

The interior is tight with only a few coveted tables (one of which we hogged for hours) and a stupidly large pool table taking up most of the largest room. The theme is big-time nautical with a Polynesian twist, expect Tiki cups and lots of wood paneling; the drinks are cheap (regular beers start at 99 cents) and the general mood is low key, but any sense of divey-ness is carefully fabricated – the gentlemen behind the popular hangout come from Freeman's, Milk and Honey, The Spotted Pig, and Momofuku; a group well versed in what's hip and how to convey it without seeming to try too hard.

It's a skill that's made them very rich I'm sure, and I don't mind adding to their coffers when they're serving such yummy snacks and drinks – but next time I'll make a wiser decision than to go so close to the meatpacking district on a Saturday evening.

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Posted on August 17, 2009

Drinks »Avalon Pool Cabanas

One of the most appealing features of the Avalon in Beverly Hills is there outdoor pool with cabanas for lounging and drinking. It becomes kind of a hot spot on weekend nights (the noise of which seeps in a bit to your room) but for guests it's a fabulous way to relax – an ice latte and some cucumber water in the morning, a cocktail or two in the evening.

The service can be lax, and the drinks themselves are good but not outstanding. Still, such an environment, one that makes you envious of west coast living, is magnificent.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

Drinks »Flatiron Lounge

flatiron loungeThe Flatiron District isn't an area of the city that I might expect to find a decent, sophisticated cocktail spot not marred by bland ambiance and overwhelmingly lame and obtrusive clientele, but then I found the truly impressive Flatiron Lounge. Flatiron began pouring high end cocktails towards the beginning of the trend and feels comfortably lived-in with its art deco inspired interior and restored wooden bar. While seats may become hard to come by as the night wears on and on weekends, after work our group was able to snag a corner booth – and I find booths most conducive to indulging in whiskey concoctions.

The drinks I tried were both whiskey based and excellently mixed but the menu changes often and I can't ind a current menu to let you know what I had by name, but if you go for lemony and whiskey I can promise it will be wonderful. Nothing on the three page menu that interests you? Jim ordered off menu requesting a fizz and the guy made it special for him.?

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Posted on July 13, 2009

Drinks »Cosmo

cosmosSkinny famous women just keep stealing from the gays. First Madonna takes Voguing then later SJP and friends grab hold of the Cosmo. Even though this article claims the mainstream embracing of the drink has made it lame with the gay world, Gawker found it's still a beloved staple.

A big sweet for me to be a common beverage of choice, it's still a refreshing and adorably pink cocktail good for sweet tooth indulging. I prefer to make mine with Cointreau.?/p>

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Posted on June 22, 2009

Drinks »Met Rooftop

met roof top martinis

? Why do I mention it now?

Because you really have to have one drink up here once a summer and summer will be over before you know it.

Here's what I said back on 9/11/06:

The view: divine. The crowd: civilized. The drinks: well made. Grabbing a drink after work with friends on the lovely rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum is a certain must before it closes for the season. Equally fun is the nearly empty walk through the museum on the way out.

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Posted on June 15, 2009