Back in February, (406 Third Ave.), a Gowanus whisky bar owned by British carpenter Edward Colley, . Colley’s mission was to create a space for local creatives, freelancers and the studio-dwelling self-employed to come out of hiding and socialize.
Now, just a few months away from their one-year anniversary, I thought we’d pop back in and see how they’re doing, all grown up, and if Colley succeeded in charming the neighbors to come out and play.
Walking through the block surrounding Halyards is like entering an OK Go music video—industrial warehouse spaces filled with absurd surprises—but instead of a Rube Goldberg machine, you’re as likely to find a makeshift BBQ smoker pop-up restaurant or a truckload of Slinkys being delivered.
Inside the bar, more quirky touches await. In large windows, two tall leafy potted plants allude to a 1970s fern bar. Above the large mirror over the topshelf liquor bottles are miniature flags from Turks and Caicos, Barbados and…California. Naturally.
From my perch on a corner stool a couple Fridays ago, it seemed like Colley had gotten his wish. The long butcher-block tables, in the large rectangular front room, was filled with Jenga-tower-and-Bananagram-playing patrons. A screenwriter and his pastry chef pal occupied the pool table in the central lounge.
In the back of the railroad-style bar, in a cozy nook practically advertising itself as a make-out space (the dimmer is above the banquette), some local ladies were camping out below the black and white photographs of wrestlers.
Neighborhood folks? Check. Artists? Check. Drunken silliness? Check and check.
Halyards also serves some pretty tasty cocktails. The French 75 is generous with gin but still delicate. Their Manhattan is served with a homemade pickled cherry, instead of the Shirley Temple staple.
However, the standout drink is the Root and Ginger cocktail made with artisan root liquor that smells like root beer without the cloying syrup and bitter ginger beer.
If you like to keep it simple, check out their new whisky selection, especially Breuckelen, which is made from local wheat and has a mild nutty aftertaste. Or, if you're a beer drinker, try a Six Point Brooklyn brew.
If you’re hungry, Chef Emma Gonzalez serves up “plant based bar food" like veggie panini and chips daily, and a meat-friendly Art Lunch every Thursday. For these lunches, $10 gets you a pint of beer or a glass of wine and a bowl full of stew or some sort of a Crock-Pot wonder (chili, homey soups).
In this freelancer friendly bar, Gonzalez works essentially as a freelance chef. Other guest gastro-heroes cater events like Sunday night HBO watch parties for "Boardwalk Empire," Dave Eggers-y readings of The New Yorker's rejected essays, amateur painting parties, or really, whatever Colley seems to think sounds like a good time.
All in all, I’d say, mission accomplished. Happy (almost) birthday, Halyards; we can’t wait for the party.