Mix It Up: Sidecar at Fort Defiance


[Photographs: Lush Life Productions]

Fort Defiance feels like the perfect neighborhood spot—small, cozy, and inviting, with a solid, comforting menu and a welcoming bar. The only trouble is that the neighborhood it's in, Red Hook, isn't the most convenient to get to by subway. Only those who are familiar with the B61 bus or are willing and able to obtain non-subway transport can join the Red Hook locals at what is self-described as a "cafe-bar" rather than a full-fledged restaurant. It opens at 8 a.m., serving Counter Culture coffee, and evolves over the course of the day from breakfast to lunch to dinner.

Once the day moves along, a selection of bar snacks like mustardy deviled eggs, sweet and spicy pecans, and wasabi almonds can be washed down with fine-tuned cocktails from owner St. John Frizzell, a Pegu Club alum and food and travel writer. His pedigree required that Fort Defiance use the high-quality Kold Draft ice, and prompted him to invest in a killer seltzer system. The cocktail list is an all-around winner, with well chosen classics, unearthed historical gems, and new creations. A selection of hot drinks will warm you up if you happen to make the long trek out on a cold night.

A cocktail recipe, after the jump.

One recent Friday, Frizell took advantage of the fact that artist Jill DeGroff was hosting a show of portraits from her book, Lush LIfe: Portraits from Behind the Bar, at nearby Sunny's. Knowing full well that many of Jill's portrait subjects and their friends (bartenders and cocktail junkies galore) would be in the neighborhood for a pre-show dinner, he highlighted his classic Sidecar—a cognac-based cocktail with lemon and Cointreau, offering it for a mere five dollars rather than the usual nine. All profits from the drink that night were donated to the Museum of the American Cocktail. Not surprisingly, virtually every patron was drinking one.

Though the special has ended, the Sidecar remains on the menu. It is a simple drink to make, perfect for any home bartender's repertoire.


1 1/2 oz. Remy Martin VSOP 3/4 oz. lemon juice 3/4 oz. Cointreau

Shake over ice, and pour into a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.

Fort Defiance

365 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (map) 347-453-6672