Dram is on South 4th Street in Williamsburg in a space that started out as Zak Pelaccio's debut restaurant, Chickenbone Cafe. Although Chickenbone closed in 2003, more than a hint of it remains, with very few changes, if any, to the original decor. The kayak-shaped light over the bar is still in place, as is the wooden spoon used as a lock for the bathroom door, but despite those details, Dram is an entirely different beast from its predecessor.
Taking its name from a unit of measure used by apothecaries, Dram serves up cocktails with a lot less fuss than some of the speakeasy-type bars in Manhattan. It feels like a neighborhood bar that just happens to serve excellent drinks—in a fantastic collection of antique glasses, tiki mugs, and even ceramic coconuts. The cocktail menu changes frequently, but let your bartender serve as your guide. Owner Tom Chadwick has recruited a strong team behind the bar, and his menu format, offering only a very small selection of drinks each night, enables the talent and creativity of the bartenders to shine. (On a recent visit, we picked our glassware first, and the bartender, Nicolas de Soto, created cocktails to match.)
Nicolas, who hails from the China Club and the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris, described how he had created a Cucumber Collins while he was there. Since his arrival in New York, he had the opportunity to play with some St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and eventually came up with the St. Germain des Prés—named after a Parisian neighborhood.
It is a spicy drink—be prepared for a strong zing of chile upon your first sip—but the heat is quickly tempered by the cucumber and egg white. The effect is incredibly refreshing, and tasty to boot.
St. Germain des Prés
1 1/2 ounces Hendricks gin 3/4 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur 3/4 ounces lime juice big dash simple syrup 1 egg white slice of cucumber (without skin) Thai bird chile pepper
Muddle the cucumber and the pepper together, then add the remaining ingredients and dry shake (without ice) for 10-15 seconds. Add the ice and shake vigorously, then double strain (using a hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh strainer) into a coupe glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.
177 South 4th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map) 718-486-1444
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