“The thing about Brooklyn is that there’s such diversity between the neighborhoods; calling it Brooklyn doesn’t really do it justice. I call it Brooklyns,” Shannon Mustipher tells VinePair.
Mustipher is beverage director for Caribbean haven Glady’s in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights/Prospect Park area. She’s also a rum expert and author of “Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails,” an epic, contemporary take on tiki culture that broke records with its first run (it sold out in the first six weeks following its release).
One of the things she loves about Brooklyn(s) is its energy. “It’s so chill, and there’s such easy access to culture, music, food, and drink,” she says. Here, we break down Mustipher’s ideal itinerary in the place she calls home.
“The big draw here is that we have 90 rums on the list, and we’re ready to dive deep and tell you the story and enjoy it with you … that’s what we do. We also have rum flights, which are great because it allows you to experience three different pours representing different sections of the menu.” Location.
“Fort Defiance in Red Hook is high up on the list. They have a burger that comes correct. It’s really juicy; I don’t really eat meat so it takes a lot to get me interested in a burger.” The 8-ounce burger is served on a brioche bun with the usual suspects (lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles) and “special sauce” with the option to add roasted potatoes, a variety of cheeses, and other bonus toppings, and/or a drink from a select list. It’s available every Monday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Location.
“This is the quintessential Brooklyn bar, great no matter what day, time, or who you’re with. It’s a place for all seasons, which is not easy to pull off.” Mustipher is especially enthusiastic about the Brandy Chartreuse Swizzle, a summer 2019 cocktail featuring Bertoux brandy, coconut cream, yellow Chartreuse, yuzu, and cane syrup, served on pebble ice with mint crowns and nutmeg. Location.
“This place is the Blue Note of Brooklyn. It’s a small joint with maybe 12 seats at the bar; the owners are traditional musicians who’ve had the opportunity to connect with a number of artists who have won Grammys or are of that caliber, and they have live music all but one day of the week. Their back bar is amazing; I would suggest starting off with any cocktail from their list, or a classic, and then a meat-and-cheese plate with a glass of bubbly.” Location.
“King Tai in Crown Heights is my local. This is where I unwind and just chill. The owner Dane Risch has supported me tremendously over time. It’s super friendly here, and so thoughtful.” This bright, sunny spot has a modern, approachable cocktail program featuring a handful of $11 drinks. The Perfect Storm is made with Appleton Signature, Rum Fire Overproof (one of Mustipher’s current favorite Jamaican producers), passionfruit, lime, Cocchi vermouth, and crème de cacao. Location.
“Donna Cocktail Club is great; shoot for whatever’s in the frozen machine.” Donna’s Mexican-leaning menu is complemented by a bottle selection spanning the entire back wall, and frozen drinks are indeed a highlight (try the Brancolada made with Branca Menta, Jamaican rum, coconut cream, pineapple, and orange). Location.
“Mettā is a wood-fired, mostly plant-based, carbon-neutral restaurant in Fort Greene. I’ve been there a few times; the service is always lovely, and they have an open kitchen. The menu changes all the time but their veggies are usually the thing for me. It’s a little off the beaten track but it’s worth a stroll, know what I’m sayin’?” Location.
“Reynard inside the Wythe Hotel is just so iconic. For me, from an industry perspective, it’s not just like ‘Oh, I like eating here;’ it’s more like a respect for the standard that’s been established by this restaurant group and seeing why it’s sustainable. I’m a big fan. In terms of what to order, all of their salads are really great.” Location.
“Ops is in Bushwick. They’ve got wood-fired pizza (all hand-thrown), and all of the elements of the pie are really thoughtfully composed. They have a great wine collection, too, but no list, so the servers are required to have more of a rapport with the guests than they normally would. I’d take a mushroom pizza here any day.” Location.
“The location of the Wythe is great. Not only is it across the street from Brooklyn Brewery, but of course Reynard is here. You’ll want to take some time to look around — you can see a lot of things from this vantage point.” Location.
“I’m very biased — I love Crown Heights, which is where I’ve been living for the past five years. There are quiet, green sidewalks (so if that’s your vibe you can live that way), and great coffee and food; it makes you feel like the whole world is there. Prospect Park is also close by — from what I understand, the same architect who worked on that also worked on Central Park.” Location.
“This is a very central area. The park itself is just a few blocks down from Brooklyn Museum, and you can branch off and walk by foot to Flatbush for some great Caribbean food. You could go into Park Slope, which would take you into Gowanus. You could walk through Carroll Gardens and see some of older Brooklyn, which I think is really beautiful. It’s in the middle of everything, so whatever your flavor is, just learn about Brooklyn overall and how to get there.” Location.