Where to drink this week: Post Office
A patriotic tavern focuses on small-batch whiskeys.
Mon Apr 18 2011
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl
Few literary figures are as deeply ingrained in barroom lore as Charles Bukowski, whose poetry, prose and personal vices did much to immortalize the American lowlife. But for most people, actually drinking like the man would be horrifying—a soul-crushing merry-go-round of stiff Vodka Sevens and ill-advised trips to the racetrack. Thankfully, Post Office—a new South Williamsburg watering hole that takes its name from the author's debut novel—interprets its muse loosely. Rather than wino swill, owner Alla Lapushchik (a founder of Death & Company) focuses on small-batch whiskeys, sourced exclusively from domestic distilleries. And to match the flag-waving hooch, the handsome tavern eschews the dive-bar decrepitude of Bukowski's haunts in favor of old-fashioned Americana (eagle-emblazoned wallpaper), with a few playful nods to government-job drudgery thrown in (menus are bound in legal folders). The 'hood's barflies are no strangers to brown spirits, but at this spot, there's a rare reverence for straight sipping—no pickle juice or PBR chaser necessary.
DRINK THIS: More than 70 bourbons, ryes and whiskeys (most $6--$10) can be ordered neat or over ice, and lively menu annotations make it easy to navigate the less familiar offerings. We discovered a fine all-night sipper in Kentucky's Noah's Mill bourbon, which starts with smooth vanilla notes, then finishes with an eye-opening dryness. And we were perplexed and delighted by the Whipper Snapper, an off-kilter hybrid from Oregon—a bit of malted barley gives it a Scotch-like character, unaged corn whiskey in the blend adds a grainy sweetness, and time spent in pinot noir barrels produces a chocolate-cherry tang. Once you've pinpointed a favorite, see how it translates to a straightforward whiskey cocktail—old-fashioneds, Manhattans or sours, all prepared with the requisite nerdiness (Kold-Draft ice cubes, fresh-squeezed juices). The High West Rendezvous Rye—plucked from one of Utah's few distilleries—makes for a balanced old-fashioned, providing a spicy kick without overwhelming the mellow drink.
GOOD FOR: Nightcaps and tte--ttes. Whether you're sinking into a plush armchair or perched at the bar under light fixtures fashioned from whiskey decanters, Post Office is a fine spot for lingering late into the night, exchanging tales of women or swains over heady pours. Though the yellow lights of the Williamsburg Bridge cast an eerie glow, large windows that open to the street provide plenty of appeal in warmer months.
THE CLINCHER: The bite of a strong whiskey is lovely on the palate but not so forgiving on an empty stomach. Fear not: Chef Sam Glinn (Brooklyn Star, Momofuku) turns out superlative snacks—nearly every one under $10—from a small kitchen in the corner of the bar. In addition to two-buck oysters (including beau soleils), there's an intensely flavorful chicken-liver sandwich that stands up to a slug of the hard stuff: warm, rich liver and crunchy bacon tucked into a baguette with shallots, pickles and frise tossed with green-apple vinaigrette. 188 Havemeyer St between South 3rd and 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-2574)