Sample 152 Smith St, Cobble Hill
Rating: 4 L's
Enough with sitting outside in the twilight and drinking with my friends — shit is hot outside. I recently cooled down at Sample, a quiet bar with brick walls, decorative arrangements of wintry twigs, and really effective air conditioning. Glass containers holding gallons of homemade fresh-fruit white sangria were the only evidence of summer, but they serve that year-round anyway. Wall sconces and bar-top candles cast an attractive glow, and the stereo played a chilled-out mix of jazz and quiet reggae. It’s a skinny spot, so it’s mostly seating at the bar with a few two-top tables nestled into the front and back.
Sample has seven interesting beers on tap, most of European origin; dozens of wines, all available by the glass; and a nice selection of port and sherry. It also offers dozens of little gourmet specialties like crispy Thai squid, proscuitto di parma, feta-stuffed peppers, and an array of delicious international cheeses. Although there is no kitchen (the bartender prepares everything on the 4-by-2-foot top of the stainless steel refrigerator), it’d be easy to craft an excellent tapas-style meal that isn’t prohibitively romantic or overpriced. It’s also pleasant just to drink at the bar and read or listen to other people’s conversations. When I sat down, the bartender immediately offered me samples (SAMPLEs!) of wine to help me select a dry, light, white one. Have I mentioned that this is a grownup bar?
Ok, what I said before about not liking to drink outside was a lie. I love drinking outside. I think about it during the day, I research it online, I talk to my friends about it until they’re like, “Please stop talking to me about this.” That being said, there’s a point (90 degrees) when it’s no longer pleasant to be out of doors, especially if it’s still light out and everyone can see the sweat running down the sides of my face. And that’s why dark, indoor bars that retain their crypt-like winter cool are a welcome alternative to boozy backyard patios. Or awesome rooftop bars. Or awesome beer gardens. Or just drinking in the awesome sidewalk area in front of a bar.
I would definitely return to Sample with a date or a mature friend — or a parent. The 4-8pm Happy Hour ($3 well drinks and draught beers) is impressive for a classy spot, and it’s rarely crowded or too loud. Plus it gets me excited for winter, when I’m always uncomfortable and it’s always dark out.