Whether you’re sipping on a custom cocktail in New York’s finest mixology bar or relaxing with beers at your nightly hangout around the corner, the dim lights of the establishment are sure to eschew your eye to what’s hiding behind the curtain—or in this case, behind the bar. The woman who served up the fancy drink you’re enjoying or the man who pours your favorite pint every night, or whoever’s doling out your alcoholic pleasures, is sure to have a story of their own. And as the renaissance of the bartender only becomes more prevalent, the more we find ourselves asking: just who are these people that float in and out of our nights?
Last weekend Bon Appetit magazine teamed up with Belvedere Vodka and Chase Sapphire to take a tour of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Food scene. Focusing on three key neighborhoods, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Red Hook, the tours worked to really highlight some of the areas’ best food options, while making it walker-friendly.
I was lucky enough to join Friday’s Cobble Hill grub crawl and started out at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s Italian inspired restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino. The joint was packed inside, but luckily we ducked out into the garden to sip a berry-ripe lambrusco and nibble on seasonal crostini. The way the tour worked was that they had four groups of people intermittently going to one of the four spots where we stayed for about 45 minutes. Frankies proved a good place to start, but our next stop felt a little awkward.
Dessert before dinner, anyone? Not that I am actually complaining. Given our tour took us to Kim Ima’s brick-and-mortar location of Treats Truck and to a pile of luscious peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, it was a win-win situation. We followed that up with Clover Club and had a lovely punch by cocktail goddess Julie Reiner, who was actually there explaining her drink, giving us a recipe, and then pouring up their house drink comprised of raspberries and Dorothy Parker gin. We ended the night at Seersucker and sampled chef Robert Newton’s sinful fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, pimento cheese, and the Thirsty Owl Riesling that they have on tap. All together, the tour did highlight some of the hottest spots in the neighborhood right now.
On Saturday they covered Williamsburg and smartly chose Rye for cocktails, Maison Premiere for oysters, and Brooklyn Winery for a tour and wine tasting. The other two places I was less impressed with and would have skipped, one of which was Allswell because, frankly, it’s not anything special. Same for the jaunt to the Meatball Shop; while it’s delicious, there’s nothing Brooklyn about it given its two other locations in Manhattan. Sunday’s food crawl took place in Red Hook and did the neighborhood well by hitting up Stumptown Coffee Roasters, trying St. John Frizell’s southern-style Fort Defiance, eating Korean breakfast at The Good Fork, filling up on smoked meat at Mile End, and dancing at the historical bar Sunny’s.
Overall, the folks behind the tour did well to give a broad sampling of the neighborhoods that you can easily walk around in. The only other location I would have included is Prospect Heights where you can easily indulge in seasonal nibbles from The Vanderbilt, cocktails at Weather Up, ramen at Chuko, and oysters at Cornelius—but I guess that’s a good excuse to do that one on my own.
It’s about time somebody launched a festival dedicated solely to the consumption of booze, with zero pretense of cultural distractions like movies or music. The first-ever Manhattan Cocktail Classic kicks off this weekend, with events like “The Agave Session: The Magical Elixirs of Mexico,” and “Cocktail Kingdom Presents: A Practical Guide to Barware from Around the World.” Beyond the seminars, which promise to have many tastings, there’s a series called “Stories from Behind the Bar” where you can get up close and personal with bartending talent on their home turf.
You can hang out with Julie Reiner of Clover Club, Dushan Zaric & Jason Kosmas of Employees Only, Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club, and Jim Meehan of PDT. The “Stories” series allows for tastings of signature cocktails and the regaling of hilarious bar tales. The grand finale on Sunday night takes place at the New York Public Library’s Astor Hall, with big band jazz, classic pre-Prohibition food, and plenty of dancing. Most of the events take place at Astor Center downtown, and tickets run about $50, though the final event on Sunday is $100. Check it out for yourself here. Or follow them on Twitter here.
It’s the weekend eve. Thursday night hotspots, just for thee.
1. 1Oak (Chelsea) – Cool rules the door at this lavish new hot spot. 2. The Eldridge (Lower East Side) – Most popular bookstore on the block is a hit for the kids who don’t read and write so good. 3. BEast (Chinatown) – Santos peeps take over the stealth joint beneath Broadway East.
4. Apothéke (Chinatown) – Albert Trummer brings cocktail science to the Bloody Elbow. 5. Clover Club (Brooklyn South) – Ms. Reiner comes to Smith, bringing the classic ‘tails of Flatiron and Pegu. For updated party information, check out this weekly curated list on where to go and what to do all week long.
The Food Network is throwing a three-day party, and you’re invited. The first ever New York Food & Wine Festival debuts this weekend in the city. Held mostly in the Meatpacking District and DUMBO, this foodie festival will have mouths watering all weekend. Get your tickets here, and check out our selected three-day itinerary to figure out how and when to get in on the action.
Friday 10 p.m.-midnight: Highline Ballroom for Midnight Music & Munchies (hosted by Daily Candy). Top Chefs featured on Daily Candy make late-night treats, hot-spot bartenders make drinks, and Tom Colicchio makes music (really) with Milton.
Chefs: Govind Armstrong from Table 8, Anne Burrell of Centro Vinoteca, Scott Conant of Scarpetta, Michael Psilakis of Anthos, Harold Dieterle of Perilla, Jimmy Bradley of The Red Cat, Akhtar Nawab of Elettaria, John Frasaer of Dovetail, and Joey Campanaro of Little Owl.
Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Del Posto wine tasting seminars. … or … 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Hotel Gansevoort wine tasting seminars. … or … 3 p.m.: Una Pizza Napoletano, pizza, pizza, and more pizza. Talk about it, learn about it, eat it. … and then … 7 p.m.: Adour, dinner hosted by Alain Ducasse. … or … 7 p.m.: Craftsteak, dinner hosted by Tom Colicchio, Jess Jackson and Alfred Portale.
The mixed drinks renaissance is on.
1. Weather Up (Prospect Heights) – Weather the heavy early crowds for Sasha-style involved cocktails. 2. Huckleberry Bar (Williamsburg) – The ‘Burg all growed up, in sleek oak, glass, and iron digs. 3. Clover Club (Brooklyn South) – Ms. Reiner goes to Smith, bringing the classic ’tails of Flatiron and Pegu.
4. PDT (East Village) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. 5. The Lobby Bar @ Bowery Hotel (East Village) – Low-key poshness with nice stiff pours that’ll have you foxtrotting in no time.
The original pub (short for “public”) leveled society’s strata of intelligentsia, wealthy, witty, and common … hence its popularity. One thousand years of common drinking history supported conversation from the substantive to the flippant. Oft kept quiet from meddling community outsiders, however, have been the “secondary pubs”: spaces — containing the local riffraff and rarified — positioned down the rabbit hole. Brooklyn’s beauty, the Clover Club, offers just such a “back parlor,” a lap of intimacy, velvet, and fire for educated drinking and communication. (See our gallery of the space.) This secondary space draws the daring and self-selected trouble-making crew crying out to communicate salacious stories. Behind the curtains and down the steps, a husky cast-iron fireplace covered in marble stimulates curious conversation.
The Clover Club nominally deceives; the bar contains no members and welcomes the Smith Street community, one rich in the self-celebrated culture class of the city. “Work is the curse of the drinking classes,” Oscar Wilde stressed. The Clover Club invites a melting of class distinction and a mingling over sophisticated alcoholic concoctions from owner Julie Reiner. Surely, the Victorian-inspired interior would have drawn Wilde on a midafternoon young buck hunt.
With the pub analogy, we do not imply the aesthetics of such; indeed the tin ceilings, lanterns (bell jar fixtures), intricate, tiling, dark mahogany wood, and antique sconces all speak to a unique Northeastern American response to the English-of-origin watering hole. Keen to mount an historical authenticity, owner and design director Michael Brais showcases a late-19th-century mahogany bar shipped from an American hardscrabble mining town. The historically common exterior vertical signage and interior mosaic floors recreate many an American public venue, most now downed by bulldozer.
The Clover Club lights low; in the rear, a careful play between flame and chandelier soothes the synapses. The walls lined with a silk-ish material soften the reflective floor sheen of fire-to-wood. With such calm, one wishes that the massively glazed storefront were transposed with colored stained glass, and that exhaled corrosive mist would fill the lungs. But wait, this is not a pub! On the contrary, one visually engages the streetscape ebb and flow in a “thank you for not smoking” California sunny way, while the frothy barstools are, as the owners say, “designed for guest to stay awhile.”
Named after a bygone lounge of literary libations in Philadelphia, Clover promotes a centuries-old tradition of warmth, openness, community, and a dash of the dodgy secondary “pub,” producing a true public destination. Brooklyn celebrates and cherishes its openness to the underworked cultured masses, which allots masses of daydream time to lie about in the clover.