Ahoy, Mateys: A new bar sails into Brooklyn to deliver punch bowls and Belgian brews

9 Feb

On a frigid Friday night in February, my husband and I dared to venture south of Grand Street to a new bar aptly dubbed The Drink on Manhattan Avenue in East Williamsburg. We came in out of the cold and were greeted by a blast of warm, humid air filled with the aroma of hot, cinnamony apple cider. Mismatched furniture, nautical knickknacks lining the off-white walls and the still-standing Christmas tree in the corner added to the homey vibe.

Flea market finds evoked Grandpa’s dusty library.

The well-lit place housed a healthy crowd huddled near the bar and scattered among the five or six tables. Luckily there was an open stool at the end of the counter, and I took a seat. I asked for a cocktail menu, which listed only punch bowls for $43 a pop that contain roughly 10 drinks. The venue does serve one punch by the glass—The Old Gunwhale ($6)—comprising Maker’s Mark Bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, chamomile tea syrup and spiced cranberry bitters. The mug full of fragrant pink liquid, though iced, warmed my tummy.

The Drink’s hand-crafted cocktails feature fresh juices and herbs, as well as house-made tinctures and syrups. Other punch bowl include the Perfect Storm, mixing Coruba dark Jamaican rum, lime juice, green tea syrup, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters and soda, and the Resolution, blending Juvé y Camps Cava, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, apricot nectar, lemon juice and cinnamon syrup. A few patrons had opted for the super-sized portion, and a lovely fellow named Lee offered me a cup from his punch bowl, which he was sharing with a friend. They’d chosen the Charter, a concoction of Espolón Blanco Tequila, lime juice, ginger syrup, salt tincture, cassis syrup and soda, which was quite tasty—sweet and refreshing and you could barely taste the Tequila. Dangerous!

In addition to the punch bowls, The Drink offers three different Hot Toddies ($7), made with Scotch, orange and clove; Bourbon, lemon and cranberry; or Jameson Irish whiskey and smoked green tea. The delicious odor permeating the room came from the mulled Wassail Cider ($5), featuring apple cider, tart cherry, apricot and either Barbancourt rhum or Bourbon. Of course, The Drink also serves any cocktail upon request. The beer list comprises mostly Belgian labels (each $10 a bottle), such as La Botteresse Brune, a strong brown ale brewed with sage. There is also a variety of German, Australian, Japanese and American beers. The bar was out of Schlenkerla ($9), a smoked light lager from Germany, so my husband chose Full Sail Brewing’s Session Black lager ($5) from Hood River, Oregon. The Drink pours beer on draft as well.

With the quality of the cocktails and the beer selection, it’s not surprising that this place involves Brooklyn heavyweights like Frank Cisneros of Dram lounge, Will Jones of Spuyten Duyvil tavern and Matt Lang of Fette Sau BBQ. I’m not sure what they keep in this barrel, but I bet it’s something good.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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