It sure seems like the recession has people drinking away their sorrows. In NYC, at least. While other businesses suffer, bars appear to be thriving. And if bars are where people want to spend their dwindling funds, they’ll want to know which ones are worth it. And so, I’ll be offering my takes on taprooms from time to time. First stop: Queens.
Sasha Petraske, owner of the renowned Milk and Honey and Little Branch, among others, has ventured into Queens -- Long Island City to be more specific. Welcome to the Prohibition Era speakeasy atmosphere of Dutch Kills, home of the lower-cost cocktail alternative to the $13 dollar drinks found at Little Branch and its brethren.
Dutch Kills offers an escape from 2009, transporting you back to the 1920s, where suspenders and pinstripes are in style. The bar is authentic right down to its incognito appearance: The only sign that marks the bar is the little gold plaque on the black door.
Beyond that door, the art of bartending/mixology are on display, with the bartenders becoming the main attraction. Petraske has assembled a group of the best bartenders and mixologists in the country, and they’re creating some of the most magnificent and best-balanced drinks in the City. They add a theatrical flair to their work, shaking martinis and chipping from the giant ice block. Drinks include homemade liquors balanced well with good gins, bourbons, and rye. Don't be afraid to choose your favorite liquor and ask the bartenders to shake up a cocktail.
Though $9 for a cocktail might sound steep, it’s a small price to pay for the works of art these ‘tenders create. They’ll even explain the origins of your cocktail of choice.
Dutch Kills features an assortment of Prohibition-themed drinks, which are all delicious. On Fridays and Saturdays, you’ll likely find a packed crowd, but visit during the week for an even more authentic experience, when local jazz and blues groups add to the Prohibition ambience.
Quality: 9 out of 10
27-24 Jackson Avenue (at the corner of Dutch Kills Street), Long Island City, Queens
[Take the 7, N or W trains to Queens Borough Plaza.]