Drinks

The Defiant One

Patience and fortitude reward this new Red Hook spot

It's not easy to get a liquor license these days. But naming his cocktail-centric café after a fort that defended New York during the Revolutionary War might have helped St. John Frizell finally win his battle against the State Liquor Authority.

To celebrate, the former Pegu Club barkeep opened Fort Defiance, a new dual-purpose space in Red Hook.

By day, the bright tiled space--a former apartment styled (by Frizell's wife, Linden Elstran) with Bolivian oil paintings, Oaxacan woodcuts and a cockfighting poster--serves Counter Culture coffee and Colson Patisserie baked goods, along with a meaty muffuletta ($9) that would make New Orleans proud.

By night, Frizell and company prepare flavorful, summery libations culled from the annals of cocktail-making. They're poured over Rubik's Cube-size ice cubes and priced around $8--happily below the going rate for craft cocktails.

The Barbados Buck, originated circa 1930, is a tingling, invigorating blend of rum, homemade ginger syrup, lime juice and a spritz of house-bubbled seltzer. The Prescription Julep (1857), resuscitated by cocktail historian David Wondrich, mixes mint with a one-two wallop of brandy and rye.

And the Colonial Cooler is Frizell's adaptation of a cocktail recipe published in 1939 by his literary hero, Charles H. Baker. It's an August-appropriate fusion reminiscent of a Pimm's Cup (click here to download the recipe).

In time, it'll become a classic, too.

Fort Defiance Café and Bar, 365 Van Brunt St. (at Dikeman St.), Brooklyn; 347-453-6672 or fortdefiancebrooklyn.com

Fort Defiance Cafeacute and Bar 365 Van Brunt St. New York NY 11231 347-453-6672

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