Behind the Bar at Botanica
Tucked away among the cobblestone streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn, Botanica is the ideal bar for a summer evening cocktail. Small groups cluster around wooden tables and couples share drinks along the shiny copper bar. Open from April through October, a full wall of tall windows opens out onto the quiet corner sidewalk, giving the bar a breezy, open air quality, "a relaxed atmosphere, a little old timey," said Assistant Manager and Bartender Casey Simons.
Botanica's cocktail menu is designed around the bourbons, rums, and liqueurs made at the Widow Jane/ Cacao Preito distillery next door. The menu features 11 bourbon and rye based cocktails, 7 rum cocktails, and an assortment of other cocktails, absinthe, and beer.
The menu also features 5 varieties of cigars, due to the bar's partnership with Nat Sherman, selling the cigars on site and hosting events with featured cigar and drink pairings.
"A lot of people are interested in the cigars," said Casey. And while many of the weekday customers are locals, the weekends offer a more varied crowd.
"A lot of people are coming to check out the distillery. A lot of people are coming over from Manhattan to check out Red Hook. The DIY part of the neighborhood is really big," said Casey, "and we're contributing to this local spirits movement."
Botanica stays busy from 2:00 pm until close on the weekends, with a continuous ebb and flow of customers. The recent addition of a weekend food menu further entices customers to linger. The chocolatier for Cacao Preito, which is also made next door to the bar, in the distillery, is Dominican, and his family makes the food for Botanica's new menu.
"It's really authentic," said Casey, listing off menu items including paella and tres leches. He walks around to the tables, asking the customers how their meals were, with encouraging results.
Some customers come in knowing exactly what they want; many others ask the bartenders for recommendations.
A popular summer drink has been the Boston Sour, a whiskey sour made with egg white, which gives the drink a light frothiness. The rum drinks, such as the Plantation, and the Secret Garden, are also popular. "It depends on the drinker and it depends on the weather," said Casey.
220 Conover Street
Tues — Friday: 6:00 pm — Close
Saturday: 1:00 pm —4:00 am
Sunday: 1:00pm — Midnight