Fasten your diaper straps and prepare for a wild review: Brass Monkey, the paunchy, older-brotherly bar that we all went to once when we had just moved to New York and accidentally thought it was called the Meatpacking Industry, has expanded with a couple new parts. Turns out the new parts are just like the old parts, though, and the main draw — a “rooftop bar” — is more like an industrial fire escape. A 10-foot-by-10-foot-ish square of pale wood, a few tables, stools and barrels. Could comfortably seat 15 if your idea of comfortable is, “Outdoors at all costs! Just get me the fuck out there!” No actual bar, either, but there’s no room for one. (A more appropriate billing for it would be “smoking area with stools.”) There’s a view of the water, yes, and the hazy sunset if you’ve arrived early enough, but mostly you’re looking out — and up, down and around — at asphalt and half-decrepit meat-packing trappings: massive tangled architecture, peeling paint and rusted items. No shade, no greenery. Which, in all fairness, isn’t needed once the sun goes down, which is when Brass Monkey gets most of its business.
It’s then that Brass Monkey turns into a raucous — yet tame compared to glossier Meatpacking District club standards — nightlife scene. Collared shirts and stilettos, yes; people passed out next to a pool of their Splenda-and-cocaine dinner, no.
The bar’s second floor, also new, is a better addition than the “rooftop bar” in that it’s an exact replica of the first floor — all brick walls, brassy ceilings and heavy wood, with a rainbow backdrop of glittering, ingeniously color-coded liquor bottles and something sporty on TV. Just as classy, cheesy and solid as ever. Filled with inoffensive pop, rock and oldies, as well as clean-cut, inoffensive professionals. Matt, the considerate second-floor bartender, is happy to mix up as many Watermelon Margaritas and Pineapple-Infused Vodka Martinis as you and Becky and Janet and Jenna feel like drinking, or there’s 20 tasty but not terribly imaginative beers on tap.
Speaking of things to buy, if you’re hungry for dinner (or lunch — happy hour’s noon to 7pm), go for Brass Monkey’s tasty house specialty Mussels, bathed in a poblano tomato sauce and served with fries ($14), or their surprisingly delicate Shepherd’s Pie, with choice cuts of lamb slathered in whipped potatoes and sprinkled with fresh herbs ($13). There’s also plenty of fried and typical bar fare — nachos, mozzarella sticks and so forth.
So, in case you missed the rest of this review: Brass Monkey now has a second floor, which is just like the first, plus a tombstone-sized outdoor area that’s been mistakenly hyped as a reason to go there.