“I have three passions,” says Garry Embry. “Rock and roll, whiskey, and beer.” The three converge at The Moonlight Mile (200 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, 718-389-3904), the bar he just opened in Greenpoint. Embry was laid off from his corporate job after 21 years, and he and his wife decided it was time to make a go at a dream. “I grew up in Kentucky, and I’m fanatical,” he says. “The American whiskey movement is exploding with these phenomenal products, so we said, ‘Let’s give this a run.'”
Thus far, Embry has rounded up more than 100 American whiskeys for his back bar, and he says his list will soon stretch to 125 selections. In the next couple of months, he hopes to offer 140 to 150 labels. Many of those are bourbons — “We’re grabbing as many great Kentucky bourbons as we can,” he explains — including unique bottles that are hard to come by.
But he’s also trying to build a robust American whiskey collection that expands beyond bourbon. He’s put some emphasis on local distillers like Brueckelen Distilling, Red Hook’s Van Brunt Stillhouse, and Long Island’s Pine Barrens. He’s also bringing in whiskey from around the country, including some rare finds like Balcones, a Texas brand that makes single-malt. “It’s really, really tasty,” Embry says.
As for beer, the Moonlight Mile is pouring just a dozen brews, every single one of which is on draft. “We tried to pick 12 great beers,” says Embry. “And we’ll rotate them depending on season and what our customers are telling us.” The opening line-up includes selections from Left Hand, Barrier, Firestone, and Bell’s as well as a couple of German beers like the Gaffel Kolsch.
Beyond that, Embry is trying hard to make the bar accessible to the neighbors, even if they don’t share his obsession. “We want to be a great whiskey, beer, and rock and roll bar that doesn’t necessarily feel like one,” he explains. To that end, he says he’s built a cocktail list that’s not so ambitious as it is drinkable. And he put a ton of work into his free jukebox, which plays everything from Social Distortion to Patti Smith to Sam Cooke.
The Moonlight Mile has no kitchen, but it is serving premade snacks; two are from neighbor Ovenly, and the others come from Salted Caramel, a popcorn maker in Chicago. And Embry would like to support local artists, so he’ll host CD signings for bands and display the work of the artists in his neighborhood.
The Moonlight Mile is open daily from 3 p.m. until 1 a.m.
For photos, see the next page.