On Thursday, Black Swan owner Sureshan Pather will open the Beast of Bourbon at 710 Myrtle Avenue in Bed-Stuy. And yesterday, general manager James Lemieux gave us an exclusive pre-opening look inside. First impressions: It’s big. It looks like an indiscriminately good time.
Like the Swan, Pather’s busy gastro-sports pub on Bedford Avenue, the space is sleek and modern, with industrial overtones (corrugated metal façade; polished cement floors). It’s cool, but not cold, and instead of the shabby-chic, salvaged wood clichés that have long felt tired in Bloomberg’s Brooklyn, this is a space that’s been party-proofed to the max–nothing twee about it.
At over 6,000 square feet and at least two storefronts, the Beast is a workhorse of a space whose name belies its true intention: to throw lots of meat and booze at you, seven nights a week, until 4 a.m.–and once you’ve embraced that, they’ll bring live music from local bands, too. And with Pather’s punky London heart at work, it’s most certainly not going to be quiet.
The Beast is really two beasts: the main restaurant/barbecue hall, where diners will order meat and sides by the pound at a counter and eat at picnic tables (or in a smaller outdoor space at the back), and a bar in front called the Flying V, which will serve cheaper beers and “twisted” hot dogs (top them with collard green kimchi, hot pimiento cheese, or slaw).
The main bar has 42 American craft beers on tap (and an untold number of cans and bottles), and it will serve four frozen whiskey drinks. They’re opening with mint julep, whiskey ginger, whiskey sour, and Southern peach tea, but Lemieux says they’ll rotate through the classics, so expect frozen Sazeracs, Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds: no piña coladas or margaritas here.
The whiskey-soaked spirit list includes about 100 bourbons–which range from Old Granddad to Hirsch 28-year–50 ryes, and many other musky tipples, including local selections from Widow Jane, Hudson, and others.
The barbecue comes from Frank Davis, a self-taught pitmaster who moved from upstate after closing Cha Cha Hut, a beloved barbecue joint he and his wife Cherie opened in 2010 but closed after a streak of bad luck–the space burned down three months after opening. They rebuilt and the landlord went into foreclosure, and they had to move again. When they closed for good in 2012, it was time for a real move, this time to Brooklyn. “It was perfect timing, we were looking [for a chef] and he was moving down, and it was great,” Lemieux says.
As we talked, Davis walked up to the table: “Are you the chef?” I ask.
“There are no chefs in barbecue!” he counters. “There are cooks and pitmasters, no chefs.”
Davis acknowledges he’s not the first to serve brisket in a borough that lately seems saturated with beefy ‘cue, but adds: “You can never have enough brisket.” He thinks his dry-rub heavy menu will hold up against the fatty houses that have pushed Williamsburg to a barbecue breaking point, which are miles away anyway.
Davis is also smoking chicken wings, a first for the borough, he says, with four sauces for dipping. “In the test runs, we realized that they were just so good by themselves, there was just no reason to pre-sauce them,” Davis says.
In addition to the usual pulled meat options, the opening menu features a bacon & relish sandwich, a turkey club, and sides like pimiento mac & cheese, dirty rice, and potato salad. And, special, secret rolls: “We’re using a roll that nobody else is using in Brooklyn… If I tell you, I’d have to kill you,” Davis says.
True to its name, the restaurant also uses lots of booze in the kitchen. On Monday, Davis was smoking bourbon-soaked shoulder bacon, brining wings and turkey breasts in bourbon, and injecting liquor into the meats. “We’ve got bourbon in the blood here,” Davis says.
For now, the team is focusing on the food and bar, but in a few weeks, there will be live music (punk, rock, indie) from local bands. How often? “It could go every night,” Lemieux says.
Starting Thursday, the Beast of Bourbon will be open from 5:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. daily, at 710 Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, near Spencer Street. Kitchen open until food runs out. More information: beastofbourbonbk.com
Hit the next page for more shots inside the Beast of Bourbon and Flying V and, if you like, find me on Twitter: @findthathannah
Hit the next page for more shots of the main bar and dining room.