113 Franklin Street, Greenpoint
With Brouwerij Lane, Tørst, Keg & Lantern and The Bodega, Greenpoint has no shortage of bars focused on beer. It makes sense, considering the way the neighborhood has managed to maintain its working-class appearance, if not the working-class rents to go along with it—an irony mirrored in the way many of the neighborhood’s beer bars focus on high-end craft offerings rather than the cheaper blue-collar stuff. With Ramona’s recent arrival to the remarkably quaint Franklin Street, drinkers looking for high-end cocktails now also have a place to visit.
Co-owned by brothers Scott and Jay Schneider and Jay’s wife Natalka Burian, Ramona is the sister bar of Elsa in the East Village. “Sister bar,” mind you, is something of an understatement—they’re practically twins. Both spaces were designed by Evan and Oliver Haslegrave of the ubiquitous Brooklyn design company hOmE, and they share the firm’s hallmarks: reclaimed wood offset by pristine white walls and unexpected architectural touches, providing an elegance that can be almost intimidating.
The bars also share a menu, which feels not lazy, exactly, but… well, ok, it feels a little lazy. Even in 2014, you’d like to think North Brooklyn and the East Village are different enough to warrant variation. Still, it’s hard to get too worked up about it given the breadth of drinks they offer, from the small but well-chosen beer and wine selections to the extensive cocktail list that is very much the star of the bar.
It includes a variety of whiskey drinks. Death of a Ladies Man was my favorite, a mixture of rye, honey, Laphroig 10-Year Scotch, lemon and tobacco bitters—a perfect balance of spice, smoke and a nice, round sweetness. The Black Book combines bourbon with jalapeño, honey, lemon, and warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg that help tone down the pepper’s more aggressive heat. Unsurprisingly, the Old Fashioned is also perfect. Should your tastebuds favor something other than whiskey, you could certainly do worse than the Self Portrait, a delicious blend of cilantro-infused tequila, habañero, agave and lemon. Sadly unavailable on the night I visited was the Barrel-Aged Perfect Manhattan, the first batch of which they’d run through faster than expected. Also missing were the small plates they’ll offer soon: house-roasted mixed nuts and assorted charcuterie. I’ll definitely be back to sample both.