A Snowy Night in June: June Wine Bar

02/25/2015 9:54 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

June Wine Bar
231 Court Street, Cobble Hill

I walked down Court Street in the kind of frigid weather that feels like a personal attack, invasive in its ability to wend its way into every cell of your body; it wasn’t until this winter that I realized that even my hair could feel cold if the temperature dropped enough. Which is not to say that I don’t like the cold, or what it does to my hair. I love the cold, and what it does to my hair, which is makes it silky and heavy so that it holds a braid well.

But on this night I wasn’t really enjoying the cold or my hair because I was worried I’d be late to meet a friend. I hate being late; I’m always late. I was rushing through the cold as fast as I could, snow falling in my hair, cursing myself for being myself. My phone buzzed: Where are we meeting again?

I stopped right where I was, sent him the address of June Wine Bar, which I was already in front of, and paused for a moment to breathe in some last stabs of icy air. I would not be late. I pushed open the door to June and couldn’t help but smile: This was going to be a good night.

And it was. Not just good, though—great, even. Which, on the one hand, wasn’t surprising: June is owned and operated by Henry Rich and Tom Kearney—the proprietors of two of my perennial favorite restaurants, Rucola and the Farm on Adderley, respectively, which both reliably serve up some of the most delicious food in Brooklyn. Also, June’s interior was designed by the Haslegrave brothers’ company hOmE, and no matter how expected (if not cliché) the elements of dark wood, marble bar, and cool white accents might be right now, it’s still pretty impossible to deny the tranquility and flat-out loveliness of June’s aesthetic. The heavily veined white marble bar in particular was gorgeous, as well as the perfect place to perch while waiting for someone. Which I was, so I did. But what to drink?

Rare is the wine bar that also excels at cocktails, and yet June manages to pull it off; the list of drinks is short but inventive (both in ingredient and name), and the Love Like a Sunset went down like a dream—a rum-soaked, citrus-laden, chile-spiked dream. Also of note is the Blizzard of ‘96, a vaguely bitter-yet-still-smoky-sweet rye drink that’s tempting to order again and again, so hard does it hit and so warmly does it linger. But then, you’d be missing out on the wine. And that would be a shame.

Order for me, my phone pleaded. I’ll be there soon. The glow that I’d felt immediately upon
entering June had not abated one bit, and had in fact, been happily aided by the cocktails. But it was now time to peruse June’s wine list, comprising dozens of mostly reasonably priced bottles (a few top $100, but far more are under $50), as well as many options by the glass, some for as little as $8 for a generous pour. In anticipation of my friend, I tried a quartino of the rich, velvety Dolcetto, which I may or may not have finished before he arrived, cheeks red and eyes wet from the cold, apologizing profusely for his tardiness.

“It’s ok. You can buy me dinner.”

And guilt being the amazing motivator that it is, we chose dish after dish, so that we were soon surrounded by small plates full of some of the best food I’d had in ages—bitter treviso leaves, brightened by cara cara orange and pecorino; savory, long-roasted carrots layered over delicate gnocchi, and topped with a nutty gremolata; a decadent special of duck cassoulet, which achieved no less than audible moans from both of us; and perhaps best, yet simplest of all, a piece of savory acorn squash flatbread, made spicy with chile butter, and topped with melt-in-your-mouth slices of the serrano ham we ordered on the side, on the recommendation of our charming waitress.

Sitting there, on a snowy night in June, the hours slipped by in the way that you always want them to on a cold winter’s eve, though it’s rare to have such a magical time. We left that night full of some of the best food and drink that we had had in a long time, and with a certainty that this would only be the first of many nights we’d spend at June. We went back the next week. And there’s no doubt we’ll be back again soon.