What do you get when you combine an Australian punk rocker, an owner of a dive-like venue, and someone behind one of the hippest dance-party bars in Manhattan? Anyone? Well, you get The Flat, a classy new bar in Williamsburg run by Johnny Siera of the band Death Set, Lit Lounge‘s Max Brennan, and Home Sweet Home‘s Kristin Vincent.
“This whole thing came about because a lot of people from Lit moved to Brooklyn,” says Brennan. “I made it look like an old London flat and didn’t want it be a dive like Lit.”
So, Brennan designed the spot using antique paraphernalia that he collected from various shops in the city. Now the chic bar features long leather couches, old photographs hanging on the walls, French wallpaper from the 1890s, low lighting, and a vintage chandelier that cost more than anything else in the space. All this a far cry from the original, nondescript bar that Brennan walked into three years ago.
“I saw only three people sipping drinks on a Friday night, and asked the owners if they wanted to sell,” he says, adding that he hadn’t originally intended to be in this location, but the with the right price and a 15-year lease, it felt serendipitous to build his bar there. And, Brennan reiterated, save for the live bands, it’s not like Lit at all.
“We primarily want it to be a place that’s not a dive bar, but also not a douchey Meatpacking club,” says Siera. “It’s a place where the rock ‘n’ roll crowd can be comfortable.”
It appears he got his wish. On a recent night, it wasn’t surprising to see the spattering of scruffy men in tight black jeans, plaid flannels, and stylish sneakers that sidled up to the bar to down one of the house cocktails and to chase shots of margarita with a Dos Equis. On the drink end, I can easily recommend Simon’s Breakfast, a blend of Tanqueray, cucumber, lime juice Worcestershire, and hot sauce, or the decedent French 75 with Dorothy Parker Gin and lemon. They also, naturally, sell beer and shot combos (it is Williamsburg, after all) like the one mentioned and a have a full, well stocked bar.
Aside from drinks and glamour, Siera says they also plan to feature DJs, an array of indie, psycho punk, electronic, and rock bands, and old movies on their pull-down screen. As a woman flashed manically on the wall, Brennan brought over a selection of films they want to show including The Hunger, 400 Blows, The Third Man, and, he says, basically anything by Nicolas Roeg and Federico Fellini.
As for Siera, he knew Brennan after years of playing at Lit, so when the opportunity came up to help run the bar, he pounced. “I guess I was sick of touring all the time, so, it made sense,” he said. And, he warns, don’t expect to see his band playing at the Flat any time soon, if ever.