Aside from the bouncer with the eye patch standing outside the thick black door, the Hideout is pretty unobtrusive. Located in a carriage house on a residential cross street, behind one of the nicer restaurants on Fort Greene’s increasingly upscale DeKalb Avenue, the Hideout is enclosed with heavy curtains and lit about halfway down the dimmer switch; the room is exactly one couch wider than the modest lengthwise bar, atop which you’ll see jars of fresh fruit and bottles of mixers. Under the shelves of whiskey is a spice rack, and eye-droppers contain the various finishing touches. The cheapest item is a $10 glass of house wine. What the hell kind of bar is this, it doesn’t even have any beer. (Though there are goldfish — albeit multicolored edible goldfish — in glass jars along the bar).
A Whiskey Fig Fizz ($12), with Glenfiddich, had a spicy, seedy tang; an elderflower margarita (also $12) tasted pretty much like a regular margarita. Then again, my palate is not particularly refined, and I certainly appreciated the detail of the woodwork and paneled ceiling. So, the Hideout is what it is: an artisanal cocktail bar. One that — once the bartender no longer needs to refer to a cheat-sheet to learn how to mix the drinks, and stops mixing too much alcohol for the tiny goblet-shaped glasses so that when he pours your drink in front of you you get to watch several dollars worth slosh over the side — is to-scale enough that greaseballs from the outer boroughs (like Manhattan) won’t come here to flash wads, and with a tony atmosphere sufficiently well-executed to demonstrate the appeal of elegance to even the most skeptical bar diver.
But then, just as I was purging my mind of some theoretical first date who might take me here and insist on paying for my drinks with the assumption of recompense, the West Village Eddie Haskell of a bartender tells the owner and bouncer, “My girlfriend is having dinner around the corner with two hot Japanese friends… maybe we can share.” Later, as he began regaling the sole unchaperoned woman in the bar with details of his recent trip to Argentina (within a minute of her arrival), it occurred to me that while the old money listening to bossa nova by candlelight may look classier than the new money splashing $200 on a bottle of Grey Goose, the consumption isn’t any less conspicuous.