Photos Devon Banks
While most of us have been busy endlessly hopping between all of them, some of North Brooklyn’s most prominent bars and restaurants have been quietly joining forces to form the nascent Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants organization, otherwise known as BABAR. And what better way to publicize what’s essentially a supergroup of local venues than by throwing a giant party, hosted by all of them. On a boat! Hence, last Thursday’s Sunset Cocktail Armada.
Catered and bartended by BABAR’s extensive list of local members as an offshoot of last year’s DRINK Williamsburg Greenpoint event, this year's event took place on a boat donated for the night by the East River Ferry.
“We were already sort of de-facto organized as a group over the past two years for Taste Williamsburg, DRINK Williamsburg, and the Northside Town Hall project,” explained Dave Rosen, a BABAR co-founder and co-owner of The Woods. “Then we realized we should organize for our own industry’s sake.”
Already individual forces in a neighborhood that tends to be held up as the poster child for encroaching gentrification — rising rents, trendy new businesses edging out neighborhood staples, you know the drill —BABAR’s members are establishing a more permanent foothold in the community with an unspoken mission statement that could best be summed up as “We’re here! We’re helpful! Get used to it,” throwing their weight behind established local projects and providing advice and logistical support to newer upstarts.
“Williamsburg seems to be one of the only neighborhoods that’s really been economically healthy throughout the entire downturn, and it’s largely because of restaurants and bars,” said Lane Sanders, a co-owner of The Drink, as well as a co-chair of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) and a member of BABAR’s leadership board.
“It’s good to get the owners together to have a collective voice and figure out the best way to deal with [any issues that arise]," Sanders continued. "Most of the people in the neighborhood are really responsible business owners, they want to be good members of the community, they don’t want to make the neighbors angry. Basically, this is just about making better communication within the industry, and helping out people that are trying to get started.”
As such, BABAR briefs upstarts on the ins and outs of local health inspection standards, and provides them with a list of trustworthy contractors, lawyers, etc. Its members are also working to raise funds and publicity for already-established neighborhood causes, including the ongoing Northside Town Hall Project, which is in the process of creating a local community and exhibition space.
Advocacy aside, they also happen to have a pretty good infrastructure in place for large-scale party-throwing, having been founded last year by the owners of Cubana Social, Teddy's, Nita Nita, The Woods, Hotel Delmano, and Union Pool.
And, just nine months into its existence, BABAR's roster has ballooned to include Manhattan Inn, The Richardson, The Shanty, Maison Premiere, Bellweather, The Drink, Dressler, Café Collette, Anella, Diner, D.O.C. Wine Bar, Café Mogador, Urban Rustic, Bakeri, Mast Brothers, El Almacen, Brooklyn Winery, Brooklyn Brewery, and Brookyn Roasting co.
Thus, the first (and possibly last) cocktail party to our knowledge that actually had more
than enough food to last through the night.
Above, one exceptionally dapper attendee (left), and Lane Sanders, co-owner of The Drink (right).
Clockwise from left: Samantha DiStefano (Nita Nita), Carla Villa (Brooklyn Brewery), Melissa Estro (co-chair Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint), FeliceFelice Kirby (Teddy's), Dave Rosen (The Woods), Sage Geyer (Union Pool), Alyssa Abeta (Hotel Delmano & Union Pool), Christina Bouza (Cubana Social)