595 Union Ave, Williamsburg
4 out of 5 L's
As the doors of Richlane swung open, and a well-appointed pair made a stylish exit into a foggy, almost balmy recent evening, I slipped inside to be welcomed by the enveloping perfume of Chartreuse. My heart swelled as my lungs filled with the heady green vapor; this was going to be a dreamy night.
The park was quiet, as one would expect on a mid-week, mid-winter evening, but it was easy to imagine teams of kids piling in for cheap cans of Genesee ($3) and shots of Riverboat Rye ($8) after kickball games, cricket matches, croquet tournaments—whatever it is the beautiful people do for fun when the sun is shining and sweat-soaked V-neck tees trump Pendelton print sweaters.
The interior design of this new spot (owned by Michael Passalacqua, co-owner of Chelsea’s Tia Pol) is plucked from the pages of Dwell. The angular bar juts into the center of the room, an aggressive invitation to grab a barstool and make a tough choice: Richlane offers a menu rife with local options. In fact, all wine and beer here is made in New York, and in addition to four beers on draft there are two wines on tap—one red, one white, both totally quaffable. Cocktails here are dialed-in variations on classics. The Green Bee ($10) is similar to the Last Word (a classic from the Detroit Athletic Club—a ridiculously delicious, grown-up lime popsicle of a drink, the recipe for which can be found in Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier, a 1951 bartender’s guide) with gin, green Chartreuse, lime, basil and local honey instead of the Last Word’s maraschino liquor. The result is lightly sweet and wonderfully herbaceous, with just the right botanical bite. After a few cocktails, an espresso may tempt you. However, don’t lock eyes with the golden eagle perched atop the copper dome of the gleaming vintage Rancilio espresso machine—with an eagle’s share of great coffee throughout the neighborhood, this is one element that could use tweaking.
In summer days to come, Richlane hopes to offer small snacks; until then, gaze out the picture window at the leafless trees and dream of a summertime when, inspired by liquid courage and parkside proximity, the best idea is to take down one more beer and hit the field for a sauced-up version of capture the flag.