Sneak Peek at Prime Meats and Its Cocktail Menu – A Brooklyn Life

Frankie’s 457 and I have a colorful history. When the restaurant opened, I fell in love with the solid new-old Italian joint just blocks from my place. And then it got crowded (routine two and a half hour waits on the weekends, one and a half on weekdays). And then the service became inexplicably snobby. And then, it turned nice again, really nice, I-want-to-be-your-friend nice. And so, I booked a group of nine for the weekend, and everything was wonderful: the food (ah, the cavatelli), the service, the inexpensive but good wine. Things really took an interesting turn, however, when our party was gently encouraged to vacate the prime communal table for a sneak peak at Prime Meats.
As I’ve been drooling over the progress of Prime Meats from the outside for months, it didn’t take long to convince me to skip through the shared backyard, through the still much-under-construction, chef’s dream of a kitchen and into the beautiful cocktail sanctum that is the first floor of the space. The loving restoration/recreation of the space shows–flawless pressed tin ceiling, stunning molding, stalwart wooden bar–and it all comes together, down to the ubiquitous but appropriate filament bulbs. But here’s where things get interesting: the cocktail menu.
Of course the Franks are doing a throwback, Prohibition-era inspired cocktail menu, but minus the Prime Daquiri and the Old-Fashioned, these are not the expected crowd pleasers. Words that come to mind are “herbaceous,” “forest-y,” and “medicinal.” That may have something to do with my choice of The Waterfront, a mix of Fernet-Branca, Branca Menta and ginger ale, which is best described as what a Halls mentho-lyptus drop would taste like if bottled and bubbled. Drink it next to the Holmes Cooler (try saying that fast …), a combo of Junipero gin, Nardini Amaro Bassano, punt e mes and seltzer, and it’s like taking nibbles of licorice and then licking a cough drop. Talk about a mouth experience! My favorite was the above Strawberry Mash (photo above), rye, whiskey barrel aged bitters, muddled strawberries and mint–it’s a bracing drink that won’t win over strawberry lovers but truly makes the whiskey shine.
I waver here slightly because I love the craft that’s gone into the cocktail menu and the fun of trying something that’s just not available anywhere else. (I was too far gone to sample the Whitelodge Cooler and properly appreciate its rhubarb bitters, but I will be back … ). But I also wonder if Carroll Gardens has the constitution for such creative cocktailing. What say ye, CGardeners, can you stomach a cocktail menu with bitters in most of the drinks and absinthe in a handful more?
All photos by the lovely Marsha.
Frankie’s is hands-down my favorite spot in the neighborhood. We checked out the new bar on Saturday night too. I’m not really into cocktails, so I found the drinks too strong and medicinal as well. As you said, the new space is gorgeous and my husband enjoyed his drink, so I guess we’ll wait and see how it goes. I’m excited to check out the new store and restaurant though.