82 Berry St, Williamsburg
Rating: L L L L L
The inside of Hotel Delmano, the new, hotel-less lounge in Williamsburg, looks the way you imagined adulthood would look when you were a 9th-grader reading The Great Gatsby: gem-toned cocktails, smoky, lilting music, walls lined with tarnished, framed mirrors and portraits of Rough Riders. Drinks in perfect goblets arrive on silver trays and are served deftly by a beautiful woman named Blaze.
It feels warmly secret (despite the blog buzz), not in small part because arriving at the Hotel takes some work. The entrance on Berry Street is gated shut, and the door on North 9th Street — tucked between residential brownstones — is marked only by a glowing, suspended orb. After pushing through the heavy doors, you’re greeted by a nattily dressed hostess who gestures lightly. You follow her hand to one of several little stone tables lining the swanky, Jazz Age-style main room, or to one of the more intimate back rooms. They’ve squeezed in a few too many tables, so you’ll be forced to listen to your neighbors cooing double-entendres, but at least the moonshine-romantic atmosphere ensures they’ll make them.
Two printed cards that could be mistaken for wedding invitations wait at each table with the wine and cocktail menus: A glass of wine runs a minimum of $11, and the bottles climb to $78, but you’re here for the cocktails, and rightly so. Days later I’m still dreaming about the light, perfume-y St. Germain with elderflower, cava and soda ($12). A dark Scoff Law ($10) arrives floated with lemon rind, and initially tastes citrusy before making way for a buttery molasses finish. The Hemingway Daiquiri ($10), a blend of rum, maraschino, lime and grapefruit, is appropriately tropical and robust. All cocktails are meticulously blended and shaken with flourish by the models-cum-bartenders in eveningwear, and the show takes place behind a bar lined with wooden library ladders for reaching the (very literal) top shelf.
Hotel Delmano attracts mostly Williamsburg 30-somethings with the financial wherewithal to be there and the inclination to eschew Manhattan and other (squarer) Brooklyn neighborhoods. It’s quiet, with old-school sophistication colored by new-school cool, and it affirms one’s (ok, my) first and deeply seated idea of what goes on during that smoky, mysterious Cocktail Hour — and well beyond.