As a wine bar, Denizen is as refreshing as a crisp Spanish white for the sheer fact that it doesn’t feel like a wine bar. The lights aren’t moodily dimmed; the room isn’t tuned with La La Land–esque jazz. There is no plush seating or even corner tables to cozy up to your sweetheart. Servers are attentive and friendly, but they don’t rub any sommelier snobbery in your face. With its large street-facing windows, white marble bar, modish light fixtures and slate-blue accents, the space reads more like an easygoing neighborhood café—that just happens to have an impressive lineup of sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines.
ORDER THIS: Curated by Chris Wilford (Triomphe Restaurant), the wine list is packed with Old World bottles, most hailing from Italy or France and reasonably priced. By-the-glass options change frequently, but a recent lineup included a 2014 Monastero Suore Cistercensi “Ruscum” ($14), an earthy orange varietal that gives off a spiced nose of anise and clove, and a 2013 Côtes du Jura chardonnay from Jean Rijckaert that starts off all clean pine and finishes as freshly churned butter ($14). Vino is also employed in cocktails, like a Bloody Mary splashed with Manzanilla sherry ($12) and a Parkside Gent ($12), which froths together ruby port, quince and egg white.
GOOD FOR: Fromage fanatics. Sure, cheese and wine don’t make for the most wildly innovative pair, but chef John Poiarkoff—fresh off well-received tenures at the Pines and Willow—puts an ambitious spin on the classic pairing: Charred-scallion goat cheese you can dredge up with purple radishes ($9); roasted and pickled cauliflower drenched in cheese sauce and chilies ($10); and an oozy three-cheese sandwich funked with woodsy black-truffle shavings ($20). Want those curds at their most unadulterated? There are 10 à la carte selections ($6 each), ranging from local (a triple-cream cheese from the Hudson Valley’s Four Fat Fowl farm) to imported options (a tangy Italian rocchetta).
THE CLINCHER: If your ideal night out involves cozying into bed by midnight, consider a pit stop at Denizen to be your primer. (The bar closes by midnight on weekdays and 1am on weekends.) You’ll be with your people—nope, not bright-eyed 22-year-olds pregaming that 30-minute wait for Output, but thirty-something groups dressed in smart sweaters and sensible shoes, catching up with friends over vino nightcaps. Denizen is a fitting place to keep up the facade of youthful cool—you can tell everyone at work on Monday that you totally closed down the bar this weekend.
88 Roebling St, Brooklyn (929-337-6412, denizenbrooklyn.com). Average glass of wine: $12