The Counting Room
Cocktails and wine are winning at this under-the-radar bar.
Mon May 17 2010
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
On a recent weeknight, as Williamsburg barflies clamored for pickle-backs and PBR specials at sardine-tight bars around the 'hood, the Counting Room, an unusually refined newcomer, struggled through another slow evening. The spacious bi-level bar—wines by the glass and half bottle on one floor, cocktails and spirits in a basement lounge—deserves far better than that. This may be Brooklyn's most stylish sleeper, its picnic tables, bars, stairs and wall art all carved from the same recycled blond wood. The wine list upstairs, with a focus on small, all-natural producers, comes stashed in a manila folder. Partner Doria Paci (Uva) has pieced together a well-priced collection of offbeat finds, and hired staff eager to help you navigate your way through them. A Three Trees Cote Catalanes, a zippy white from a corner of the Rhne best known for dessert wine, is just the thing for an early-evening nip while the sun still streams in through the corner windows. A brawny Loire Valley Chinon from Bernard Baudry is best sipped with bar snacks—a versatile bridge between herb-tinged deviled eggs with warm shredded ham and a delicious "fork-and-knife" onion soup (essentially grilled cheese soaked in onion soup jus). Though cocktails are also offered upstairs, the rathskeller lounge was designed expressly for them. There, the house-made infusions and bitters lining the bar are shaken and stirred into a solid collection of classic and original drinks from beverage director Vince Favella (Huckleberry Bar). The Gourmet Popcorn is a playful spin on a dirty martini with corn-infused vodka and vermouth kissed with butter and salt. The Reverend Horton Heat is a bit more assertive, a tall bourbon refresher with smoked lemon juice and sweet maple syrup. The thoughtful cocktails and unusual wines at the Counting Room are certainly solid, but until word gets out you may find yourself sipping them alone.—TONY