Come for the Brooklyn-made coffee and pastries, stay for some of the best drinks in the borough. Since opening back in June, Williamsburg’s Bar Beau is one of the newest all-day cafés on the block, but its impressive cocktail program gives it a tasty edge over the rest.
Behind the operation is former fashion buyer Claire Chan, who treats the quasi-hidden space as a sharply laid-back homage to her Pacific Northwest upbringing.
Once the afternoon coffee rush subsides, head past the front room’s espresso machines down an unassuming hallway to the sharp back room. (One wrinkle: Bar Beau closes between 4 and 5 p.m., so we recommend spending that in-between hour next door at Night of Joy.)
Once inside, you’ll be swept away by the ocean-toned marble bar curved like the rock walls along the coast and the rustic shiplap covering the high ceilings. The natural lighting comes through via what I’m calling the industry’s buzziest design trend of late, skylights! (Last month’s Drink This Right Now locale, Existing Conditions, also has them.)
A quick scan of the cocktail menu, however, indicates that your taste buds will take a trip overseas to Chan’s Asian roots. Touches of turmeric dye the gin-heavy Tonka Truck a rightful shade of yellow; aloe and a poppy seed–washed absinthe transform the Radio Flyer from an everyday Paper Plane to a drink that soars higher than the sky; and the chamomile-lemongrass blend in the English Bae is as powerful as taking melatonin (definitely save it for your last sip of the night).
The real standout cocktail at Bar Beau, though—the Velveteen Rabbit—is a winning whipped concoction. My bartender slid me a glass that was filled with a creamy consistency reminiscent of The Dude’s standard sipper, the White Russian. Unlike the Kahlúa-based drink—which I can only unfortunately describe as spiked milk—the Velveteen Rabbit finds a harmonious balance that’s difficult to execute with most dairy-based libations. Intertwining ingredients—fruity brandy and a miso honey strong on the umami, caramel-y rum, and toasted black sesame—use their muted base as a flavor canvas and are shaken just enough to create a modern exploration into the current tastes of Japan.
Is it too early to call Bar Beau my second home?
61 Withers Street, Williamsburg