Sometimes, just a tiny tweak to a classic gives it a little boost. Chestnut, on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, has long been a favorite of mine on the food front, with a reasonably priced menu featuring seasonal food primarily from local producers. Originally, Chestnut only occupied the space that is now the dining room, but it now has a separate bar area—a warm and welcoming space filled with wood and a back bar lined with shelves going up to the ceiling, full of spirits.
Shana Yam, the beverage manager, has created a short and simple cocktail list of classic cocktails, each with a little something special. The French 75 is made with brandy, the original recipe, rather with gin as it is most often made today, and the Brooklyn features Nonino Amaro. Their Negroni, traditionally made with equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, is punched up with Punt e Mes, a bitter Italian vermouth that echoes the flavors of the Campari. The result is a super-solid Negroni, with an extra hint of bitter, herbaceous depth from the Punt e Mes. She uses Boodles British Gin not only because of its classic London Dry Gin style, but "because the name makes people giggle." That's as good a reason as any I've heard.
1 1/2 ounces Boodles British Gin
1 1/2 ounces Campari
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth
1/2 ounce Punt e Mes
Stir ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into highball glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with orange slice.
271 Smith Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (map)