Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave, Queens
Dutch Kills is the newest iteration of the Sasha Petraske line of beautiful bars, this one in the deep recesses of Long Island City. Just one stop off the E into Queens, it's located on a pretty desolate stretch of Jackson Avenue, between a taxi depot and the Dykes Lumber Yard. The bar's website is entirely devoted to getting you there, but just ignore it. None of the directions make any sense. It's across the street from the Gulf station. Also, it's just like every other Sasha Petraske bar.
All of the hallmarks are there: the (very freshly) lacquered wood banquettes, the subway tiles, the brass fixtures, the pretty waitresses in black. The drinks are tasty and precise, served in tiny goblets and fastidiously crafted by men in suspenders. They're a few dollars cheaper than the average Manhattan cocktail ($9 for all), but the bar has a cash-only policy, which is annoying. (They do provide an in-house ATM, discreetly placed behind a velvet curtain.)
There are five cocktails on the menu for June, as well as a red and a white wine, a few beers, and the invitation to allow the bartender to create you a drink. The Garibaldi, with rye, Campari and lime, is sweet and almost creamy-tasting despite its bright red translucence, and has that unmistakable bitter bite at the end. The Gershwin was by far the favorite: a sea green sour drink with ginger and rose, garnished with a candied ginger cube. The Champ, a mojito-like mountain of crushed ice and mint, was unremarkable. It had Applejack in there somewhere, but all we tasted was the mint. The Water Lily with gin and violet was citrusy and light, but the Cointreau in the mix made no mark on the drink's flavor. Lastly the Infante, with tequila, nutmeg and house-made orgeat (an almond modifier) was sweetish and cloudy white, with more tequila burn than anticipated.
For our Bartender's Choice round, we challenged the mixologists to make three whiskey drinks, with mixed results. The Elk combined rye, port, egg white, citrus and simple syrup, and was creamy, lightly sweet and surprisingly mild. The Silver Lining bested The Elk by replacing the port with Licor 43, which lent the drink notes of vanilla and creamy almond, but it didn't escape us that it was basically the same drink. The Steinway Punch, rye with soda and orange curaçao, tasted like whiskey and orange soda: surprisingly, not that bad.
Petraske's once again pioneering a developing neighborhood, but these mahogany boites are starting to seem like the Starbucks of New York nightlife. Dutch Kills is beautiful, and the cocktails taste great, but there's no reason to leave Manhattan for the same old shtick.