click image for slideshow
579 Meeker Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
A stylized dive in Greenpoint (in the former home of Boulevard Tavern) from the same people behind Williamsburg’s popular bar, The Commodore. There are a handful of booths and a long bar with an assortment of taxidermied critters on the wall, lending the place an off-kilter atmosphere. Pretty solid pub grub is available such as The Hangry Man (a Chopped Rib sandwich) and smaller bites including Chips with Onion dip and Deviled Eggs. There’s a small courtyard that’s open when the weather is warm.
Brief cocktail menus forgo the team’s signature illustrations, although at this point, you’d have to have taken residence under a rock not to recognize The Commodore (a frozen, pineapple and cherry-speared piña colada with an amaretto float), or even the Orange Julio, an equally frosty El Cortez creation of gin and juice, elderflower and aperol. Neither Stephen Tanner nor Dennis Spina had a hand in the food offerings, but Alabama’s Mamie-Claire Cornelius seems to suit the style just fine. Embracing the exuberant, company-wide white trash tradition of pork boats and taco bowls, she’s devised a familiar, southern-leaning lineup of boiled peanuts and pimento cheese plates, and chopped rib, smoked chicken or mushroom sandwiches with mustard, all devoid of elevated, consciously clever chef embellishments. There may be smoked vidalias in the onion dip, but it’s a bit player next to mountains of Lay’s aggressively salted wavy chips.
Giving a swanky-looking redo to the former home of Greenpoint’s Boulevard Tavern, complete with tufted leather banquettes and barstools, this hangout from the Commodore and El Cortez team keeps the menu simple, with Southern-accented food like boiled peanuts, a smoked chicken sandwich and banana pudding.
Chris Young and the crew behind Williamsburg favorite the Commodore have a knack for opening bars that are fun and well-executed — just silly enough to never be too serious. They brought that to Bushwick with El Cortez a couple years ago, where you can make a meal out of taco salad and piña coladas, and now they’ve opened the Drift on the Greenpoint border. If El Cortez is Commodore on spring break in Mexico, then the Drift feels like what would happen if you moved it upstate or to Vermont. It’s appropriately cozy, with taxidermied animals, wood walls that wouldn’t be out of place in a ski lodge, leather booths, and a couple arcade games.
Occupying the former Boulevard Tavern, which closed in 2015, the Drift sits on a grimy strip of Robert Moses brutalism with six lanes of traffic and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway churning overhead. Once inside, the two-room, 750-square-foot rectangle is pleasantly schlocky, with retro signs for Schaefer and Busch Bavarian beer, snowshoe lamps and a backlit picture of a serene mountain lake. Patrons on high-backed chairs unsheathe boiled peanuts at the bar or cluster around aluminum empties in padded banquettes.
a homey spot serving breezy cocktails and Southern-style food. Frozen drinks like The Commodore — essentially a piña colada — and the gin-and-Aperol Orange Julio gesture to warmer climates (and the owners’ nearby venues), while cans of Modelo are a reminder that simplest is often best. Tufted leather chairs, wooden walls, and taxidermied animals give The Drift a lodge-like feel and set the scene for comfort first-plates like boiled peanuts, a South Carolina-style chopped ribbed sandwich, and pimento on Saltines.