Ravi DeRossi has built his East Village nightlife empire on one-of-a-kind watering holes that match high-concept design—the sultry, Old Havana vibe of Cienfuegos, the Gothic moodiness of Death & Company—with great drinks. For his foray into Kings County, though, DeRossi and his partners have executed their first sequel, bringing the ever-popular Bourgeois Pig wine bar across the river. Those who have been to the original will be familiar with the bordello-like setup, complete with velvet Louis XIV chairs, ornate wallpaper and black chandeliers. The staging is as divisive as ever: Is that black-and-gold railing skirting the balcony sexy or sepulchral? That the place is next door to a funeral parlor might not help to convince customers who are on the fence. But those who enjoy the fin de sicle decadence will find some welcome upgrades in Brooklyn: a little more elbow room, and a full liquor license that is put to fine use in one of the city's most exciting new cocktail programs.
DRINK THIS: Partner Frank Cisneros (Dram) has created an impressionistic cocktail menu packed with smart flourishes, including a section that hijacks tiki and takes it on a tour of the Mediterranean. Served over ice pellets with a tuft of fresh mint, the Zombie Amaro gives the deceptively boozy classic an Italian makeover, incorporating bitter liqueurs such as Amaro Montenegro and Fernet Branca. The rest of the list integrates oddball booze from the Continent, such as sour Belgian beers and obscure French liqueurs. Our waitress wasn't too helpful at parsing out the unfamiliar recipes—a Munich Old Fashioned (Asbach Uralt German brandy, Austrian apricot liqueur, Barenjager honey liqueur, bitters) was described as "an old-fashioned, but with those ingredients." Thankfully, it's hard to go wrong with choices like the lush Alhambra, a Negroni by way of Spain with brandy, Aperol, sweet vermouth and bitters. If you want to drink like an off-duty barkeep, you can order Fernet Branca bottle service (750ml bottle and four beers for $45).
GOOD FOR: With its luxe fittings and fondue pots, Bourgeois Pig is a no-brainer date spot for Cobble Hill lovebirds. But it's also a bona fide cocktail destination—bookend your visit with stops at nearby Prime Meats and Clover Club for a high-minded bar crawl.
THE CLINCHER: As at the original, Gallic indulgence informs the cheese-heavy menu, which hits the spot in colder months with raclette and bubbling crocks of Gruyre. These rich dishes are great with wine, but they're an odd fit for a Mediterranean-tiki cocktail. If you're there to explore the mixed drinks, opt for more delicate bites like raw oysters, shrimp cocktail and stone-crab claws.
OVERHEARD: "Is he playing footsie with you?"—A patron wonders what a curious English bulldog is doing under the table