There's a strip of Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights that is home to expertly made cocktails. Somewhat like its Manhattan counterpart (17th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, where Rye House and Raines Law Room are located), Vanderbilt between Bergen and Dean packs the one-two punch of Weather Up and The Vanderbilt.
Weather Up has an old-fashioned feel, with subway tiles lining the ceiling and an aluminum bar. Dark wood booths warm up the space, and the atmosphere is relaxed, even on a Friday night. The cocktail menu is short and simple, featuring classic cocktails and variations, but at the bottom, the wonderful words "Bartender's Choice" appear.
Matt, our guide behind the bar for the evening, asked me if I had any guidance for him—a particular spirit, style of drink, or flavors that I'd prefer. When I told him I was looking for something he'd like to showcase that would be suitable for the home bartender, he suggested the Grapefruit Collins. He explained that this variation on a Tom Collins, originally created by Mickey McIlroy at Milk & Honey, was requested year round, but with warm weather finally here to stay, it's even more appealing. Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice gives the drink its refreshing zing; try pink for a bit more sweetness and to enhance the subtle color of the Peychaud's bitters. Order one and sit in their back garden to usher in Spring.
The Grapefruit Collins
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce of simple syrup
1 ounce fresh pink or white grapefruit juice
2 ounces gin (Matt used Plymouth)
2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Shake over ice and pour into a highball glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
589 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (b/n Dean and Bergen; map)