Infatuation described Donna as right under the Williamsburg bridge, making it sound like an appealing stop-off for a night cap. Adorable, clean, and well thought out, upon entrance the design is chic and brilliant. A counter bar runs down the middle of the room and hosts seats on both sides, perfect for mingling. A few groups latch on to the space and bask in the dimly lit room.
I mosey to the bar, greeted very amiably by the female bartender who immediately provides my guide to the cocktails. Each drink on the menu is adorned with four small symbols to indicate what type of drink to expect. I spot a pineapple, a rocks glass and a camel. The glassware symbols are obvious, but things like the camel and a moneybag are more ambiguous to me when describing drinks.
I order the Cult Classic, a refreshing combination of plantation pineapple rum, almontillado sherry, green chartreuse, and chocolate bitters (designated by the symbols rocks, moneybag, pineapple, acorn). The chartreuse is lost; all I taste is the always-way-too-drinkable pineapple rum with hints of the chocolate bitters. While the ingredients are all fantastic, the proportions favor the rum, leaving me with delightfully alcoholic pineapple essence.
Someone sits down with bicycle helmet in hand to my left. I eavesdrop a little in what seems like a conversation between a regular and the bartender before interjecting myself into his experience. “Where did you ride from?” I inquire. He is also a bartender in the neighborhood and we begin to talk about business and cycling in the city. I divulge my commute from Midtown and the natural bonds of shared interests unfold, engulfing the bartender before us as well and making the space feel more communal than singular.
A few days later I return for happy hour, this time for tacos and a drink. I arrive too early in the evening to find the building nearly empty with a pleasant potential energy. The Modern Lovers play through the speakers. I am still enamored with the space, though the service is short and to the point. It becomes a motion, the placement of the napkin, the fork, the napkin, the drink. On draft and into my glass is the Dizzy Izzy Soda (plantation pineapple rum, lustau fino sherry, thai chili-infused lustau brandy de jerez, lime, seltzer). Served on crushed ice, it is a much more balanced version of sherry and the fruity rum. The vessel itself is skewed octagonal, quite unique and functional.
Though rum is touted to be the focus of the backbar, every spirit well-culled. I spy six different Del Maguay mezcals with an additional mezcal options beyond the brand; the agave spirit selection alone speaks to the curatorial practices, as seen in all the spirits. And the tacos are good.
I wonder how I have missed this gem open since 2012 (read: don’t miss this gem).