Brooklyn, NY 11211
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Great
Cards: All Major
Hours: Mon-Wed, 5pm-2am; Thu-Fri, 5pm-4am; Sat, 4pm-4am; Sun, 4pm-2am
Price: Moderately Priced
Subway: J,M,Z At Marcy Ave.
Food/Menu: Small Plates
Booze: Full bar
Happy Hour: No
NY Mag says:
With doors and windows that swing open to the sidewalk, climbing potted vines, and the dark-beamed, vaulted white ceiling of a Colonial cathedral, this watering hole evokes somewhere even more far-flung than far-southwest Williamsburg—say, Havana in its heyday. In keeping with that theme, the drink menu is heavy on rum and fresh fruit. Scarlet Fever ($10) gets a kick from chile-spiked rum, plus citrus notes, and sweet cinnamon undertones, while the house tipple is the grapefruit-flavored Donna daiquiri ($10). In a nod to owner Leif Huckman’s (Goat Town, Marlow & Sons) half-Honduran roots, small-plate offerings lean Central American (chorizo empanadas, beef-heart skewers). Far from upper Bedford Avenue, the crowd that starts to dance when D.J.’s spin vintage R&B on Friday and Saturday nights is decidedly un-Williamsburg-like.
Tucked away on a corner beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, a beauty of a bar, Donna, beckons. Unassuming refinement is the goal of owner Leif Huckman, who recalls how the name came to him in a dream: “It took me five months to convince the landlord to give me a lease and during that time I kept dreaming about the space. In one of the dreams I was walking by and I saw the sign said Donna,” he told us.
Donna serves up thoughtfully designed variations on classic cocktails in a elegant space to match. “I felt there was a lack of late-night places on the Southside to grab a bite to eat and drink. I wanted to create a place for ‘dirty kids.’ I love places with a dilapidated elegance, that look like they’ve been lived in, that aren’t too pristine,” says Huckman. Fresh and fragrant, the Watership Down ($11), a cocktail crafted with gin, dry vermouth, ginger syrup, lime and celery bitters is served tall and topped with soda. Wines by the glass and beers on tap round out the wholly satisfying drink menu.
The cuisine—in delicate portions—strays from the typical bar fare with Chef Jessica Wilson (Prune, A Voce, Goat Town) offering Central American-inspired dishes from the land and sea: stuffed avocado with oxtail jam and chorizo empanadas, salt cod toast and anchovy skewers, to name a few.
The scene is understated yet lively; on the weekends, DJs spin mostly old soul and R&B 45s. “Late nights, a dive bar tends to be your only option, aside from the speakeasy cocktail thing, which can be a little stuffy and condescending,” Huckman explains. “I wanted to avoid that and make the place welcoming.” The white washed walls, vaulted ceilings, and splashes of ironwork pay homage to his Honduran heritage.