A Creative Cocktail

Day Twelve 12 Sips of Brooklyn
maurice-pundit-fort-defiance1865

Cocktails at Fort Defiance in Red Hook: Maurice (left) and Pundit

dec17WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU LEMONS, the saying should go, make a twist and a cocktail. When Superstorm Sandy rampaged through Red Hook in October, Fort Defiance proved worthy of its namesake. The iconic bar in Red Hook was swamped, with ocean filling the basement and two feet of the dining room. But now Fort Defiance is back, thanks to staff and neighbors who heaved to and helped clear the debris and resurrect the café.

The chalkboard at Fort Defiance provides a historical gloss to gritty Red Hook

The chalkboard at Fort Defiance provides a historical gloss to gritty Red Hook.

To celebrate the conclusion of the 12 Sips and 12 Tastes of Brooklyn, the squad repaired to the cozy bar on Van Brunt to reflect on the variety of foods and drinks being created in this varied city. We found the dead simple: seltzer and milk and syrup for an egg cream, hummus made from chickpeas, lemon, tahini and garlic. And we found elaborate creations requiring investments of time, equipment, capital and processes: bean-to-bar chocolate, or North Fork Blend red wine. But there is seemingly no environmental niche where an enterprising Brooklynite can’t enter and make a contribution. A remarkable time, as Brooklyn rediscovers its industrial past and adds new takes on old-fashioned products.

We also found delightful surprises like the Sorel made by Jack From Brooklyn, a liqueur made with Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia and nutmeg, Nigerian ginger and Moroccan hibiscus. Jack is Jack Summers, who has created the aromatic Sorel in honor of his Barbados grandparents. Jack’s distillery in Red Hook was also heavily damaged in Sandy and he has been working to rebuild with the help of neighbors and the Red Hook Initiative.

For our toast to Brooklyn at Fort Defiance, we ordered two signature cocktails created by owner St. John Frizell, a mixologist known for using small-batch bitters and liquors: the Maurice, a version of the Manhattan that he created for Avery Glasser of Bittermens Spirits (incorporating Bittermens bitters), and the Pundit, made from coffee-infused Scotch, Cocchi Torino vermouth and Amaro dell’Erborista. Both bracing and complex.

Many think of our neighbor island Manhattan when they imagine cocktails, and there is some truth to that in the old glamour of the city across the East River. But Brooklyn today is the creative cocktail: ingredients from around the world, creative mixtures of different spirit and ideas, some simple and some elaborate, blended and crafted to form an exciting brew. To Brooklyn makers of tastes and sips, keep them coming. Cheers!

Maurice (by St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance)

1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded 100 proof Rye
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Bittermens Amère Sauvage Gentiane
1/4 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

Stir, strain and serve in a coupe.

Bittermens Spirits
18 Bridge Street, DUMBO
646-810-9564

Fort Defiance
365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
347-453-6672

Jack From Brooklyn
Red Hook

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design.The font is Mason, by Jonathan Barnbrook, Emigre, 1992.

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