A Bar by Any Other Name: The Adirondack

05/21/2014 4:00 AM |

The Adirondack
1241A Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace

A new bar in a sedate section of an already sleepy neighborhood might distress locals for several reasons: more noise, maybe? A rise in late-night loitering on quiet residential streets? Or, I don’t know, an increase in public urination? But who would’ve thought that there’d be such an outcry over the name? Such was the case with the Adirondack, née Mohawk Tavern, which opened earlier this month in a prime corner-location outside the Fort Hamilton Parkway F/G stop.

Owned and operated by Paul Hamill, Leah Allen, Mike O’Neill, and Brandon Lenihan (all of whom are involved with or own Abilene in Carroll Gardens and Lowlands in Gowanus), the bar pays homage to the Mohawk Valley from which Hamill and Lenihan hail. Their Upstate upbringing is clear not only in the New York-brewed beers and Finger Lakes-sourced wines but also in the decor, which is heavy on rough-hewn wood planks and even features a mountainscape mural. It was also clear in the bar’s original name, Mohawk Tavern, so named to honor the region, not to dishonor the Native American tribe of the same name. However, once the name got out, enough people protested (and enough articles were written about it, including by us) that the owners decided to go with something more neutral—and thus The Adirondack was born, settling the matter before it had a chance to become a full-fledged “issue.”

Which is good, because The Adirondack is exactly the kind of comfortable local hangout that the Windy T needs. Besides some of the more expected though still appreciated draft beers (Captain Lawrence, Saranac Pale Ale) there are quite a few nice surprises, including Ithaca Flower Power—a marmalade-hued, piney yet vaguely tropical IPA—and Newburgh Hop Drop Double IPA, which is aggressively hoppy but still eminently drinkable. There’s also a full bar, and a short menu of unpretentious mixed drinks (Dark and Stormy, Old Fashioned). It seems like every bar and restaurant these days has a complicated cocktail menu featuring drinks that cost as much as an entree, so it’s refreshing to find a place where nothing’s more than $10.

A small food menu includes fresh hot pretzels from Pelzer’s in Crown Heights and a few pressed sandwiches (the roast beef, swiss, and horseradish was particularly delicious, and it comes with a bag of Lay’s potato chips), all of which is simple but satisfying—much like the bar itself. I’ve lived in the neighborhood a long time, and so I appreciate having a new, friendly spot to while away an afternoon with a beer and a book. Over the course of an hour on a recent sunny afternoon, no fewer than five people stopped in to The Adirondack just to remark on what a great addition it was to the area—and how they planned to come back soon.

2 Comment

  • I was unaware of the Mohawk Tavern controversy, but I think it was misplaced. Not only is Mohawk a geographic term (name of town and valley and perhaps more), but as an old-timer who remembered Brooklyn’s Mohawk neighborhood, I probably would have assumed it was Brooklyn Mohawks who owned it, as they did a bunch of bars in I guess what is now Boerum Hill. I was just a kid and teen at the time, but I had a Mohawk friend from school.

    Links about the Brooklyn Mohawk community:


    http://www.pbs.org/program/brooklyn-and-ba… — about the documentary “To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey”

    Memories of Little Caughnawaga in Boerum Hill: http://carrollgardens.patch.com/groups/aro…

  • Wow. I was unaware of this bar, and the outrage regarding the name. I’m all for respecting cultures, but honestly I think the controversy regarding this bar takes it a bit far. People need to calm the eff down.

    I am also from upstate — from a town located on the Mohawk River (I hope that didn’t offend anyone). I also love the Adirondacks — and I don’t mean to stir up the stew, but I do wonder why the outraged are not whining about the name “Adirondacks”. Maybe they are ignorant of the origin of that name, which perhaps is even worse. Look it up, it actually has roots as a derogatory term that Mohawks used for the Algonquins. GASP! Whah! This bar is picking on Algonquins! By the way, I’m outraged by the bar at the Algonquin Hotel — not because it is a bar, but because it lacks the ambiance from the days of Dorothy Parker that I always imagined it would have… :-/

    I think people need to calm down a bit. No, they need to calm down a LOT. From what I could find, there was NOTHING about this place that was disrespectful. Some people can take their righteousness too far, yes, and then they start to look silly. There are genuine things in this world to warrant outrage, but this wasn’t one of them. Sorry.

    Looking into this matter, I saw people claiming that their outrage was based on alcohol-related deaths for Native American people. But this justification seemed to appear later as people were trying to figure out why they were outraged. I suspect there would have been the same silly outrage had this business been a pastry shop or an ice cream parlor. Really, it felt like outrage for the sake of being outraged and feeling righteous about…. Something. Honestly, I NEVER would have thought this place was picking on Native Americans with a drinking problem — that was the stretch that was invented to justify their outrage. If this was REALLY your concern (which, yes, is a noble cause), doncha think you would save more lives by organizing to shutter bars and casinos on Native American lands?

    Whatever. Pat yourself on the back, you got a bar to change its name. Go, you! But I fail to see how doing so saved one life of anyone you claim to be so concerned about.

    In the end, I don’t care what they name this place. I may go there, I may not. I’m not in that area often. I think Mohawk would have been a fine name. Adirondacks is fine, too. Both are names of places that stir up fond memories of a place in my mind. Call it Arbor Hill or Hamilton Hill, for all I care (upstate people would get THOSE references).

    Really, I was not aware of this controversy until I happened to pick up an L Magazine today. I looked into a bit, and I had to roll my eyes at this nonsense.

    Oh — Here’s another target to direct your outrage… Yummy Taco is owned by Asian people!!!! What’s up with THAT? Huh? Huh? OUTRAGE!!!! 😛