I’m not sure how Brook-vin managed to get a liquor license. City authorities must have overlooked the fact that its concept has nothing to do with drinking Sazeracs behind a secret hatch in an unmarked Chinatown basement/former speakeasy/opium den. Instead, South Slope’s newest addition proudly deems itself a “wine-bar,” a concept which is — as long as we’re arbitrarily relating everything to the 18th Amendment — so post-Prohibition and has mostly gone the way of the Cosmo.
But a few recent self-proclaimed wine bars like Terroir have enjoyed success, mostly by trading in sleek over-design and pompous wine babble for homier appreciation and less pretentious yammering. Or — like the Jake Walk and Char No. 4 — slipping an amazing wine-list into a whiskey barrel concept and serving copious amounts of cred-worthy pork. And Brook-vin fits the new mold.
Aaron and Gillian Hans, owners of nearby wine retailer Big Nose, Full Body, opened Brook-vin in January, opting for the usual Brooklyn hardware: exposed brick, tin ceilings, cozy candles, etc. For a bar specializing in wine, its list is surprisingly straightforward. But it nicely reps both New and Old Worlds and offers reasonably priced glasses ranging from $6 to $12 (I liked the El Coto Rioja Blanco). Bottles range from $35 to $80, half-bottles from $17 to way-too-expensive, and eager locals have, for the time being, drained the Sonoma-blended house wine — because if there are two things Park Slopers can’t get enough of it’s Tom’s of Maine products and wine.
Spirit-seekers can choose from a brief $10 cocktail list, which has a “make your own” option: mix and match manager Brian Mitchell’s house-infused vodkas (strawberry, lemon and… horseradish?) with his homemade syrups and top off with seltzer. Or go for his less dated concoction: bacon-infused bourbon, which isn’t on the menu (you have to ask) and isn’t nearly as gross as it sounds.
In the way of food, Chef Dave Townsend (formerly of Savoy) has put together a menu of — wait for it — small plates. Really meaty small plates, like the lardo and chopped liver terrines ($7), or the house-cured salami, headcheese, and red wine garlic sausage ($8). The less meat-inclined can snack on almonds, pickles and olives for $4, or salads, cheese plates and desserts for $6.
Brook-vin isn’t for serious oenophiles. And it likely won’t draw trend-seekers from their Gin Fizz Rye Cobbler Juleps at Clover Club. But it smartly avoids any wine bar smugness and is perfect for the casual wine drinker with a stash of disposable income. And any accusations that it’s riding a tired concept can be met with the following: “Yeah, but we’ve got whiskey with pork in it.”