L at Graham Ave.
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This elegant Brooklyn drinking den is the sort of place one would expect to find mixologists, or bar chefs, or (God help us) apothekes muddling the mint. But the bartenders at the Richardson are still just bartenders—they just happen to take their vocation very seriously. Tucked under the BQE, this meticulously designed cocktail lounge has a familiar Prohibition aesthetic—rich gold brocade wallpaper, red oak floors, a stately mahogany bar. Old-time silver cash registers and a soundtrack of bluesy Americana dial back the decades. Remarkably unpretentious, however, the Richardson distinguishes itself from the recent rash of self-fashioned speakeasies. Table service for those on the varnished wooden benches is attentive and professional, while the friendly (and dashingly clad) bartenders mix a mean Manhattan or house sarsaparilla for less than a Hamilton. The fourteen beers on draft split between German imports (Gaffel) and local favorites (Southern Tier IPA)—all poured for a subdued but attractive neighborhood crowd that lingers over small plates and drinks, rather than putting them back between sets down the street.
Picnics with a view, roller-skating nostalgia, and a party for gay headbangers.