Passing the Bar

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:11

    BACKED IN PART by the owner of local fixture Clem’s,The Richardson—open since late September— seeks to adapt the recent trend of fancy retro cocktails to the laid-back Graham Avenue neighborhood.The only competitor in the area is the beautiful but pricey Hotel Delmano two L stops to the west, so a bar in these parts could potentially gain a following by filling in the gap between fancy and divey, especially considering the “not a college kid, not yet a grown up” phase many locals are currently living out. Unfortunately, this newcomer has a ways to go before it can compensate for what it lacks in local charm with stunning mixology, or vice versa.

    Upon entering, one feels the whoosh of air circulating in empty space; the bar’s large size belies its aspirations as a serious drinker’s spot. An unbroken expanse of floral-patterned wallpaper makes the eyes cross, and its slick newness hampers efforts at old-timey coziness. No one gets in each other’s way; but isn’t the first rule of bar-ology that strength of drink times proximity of patrons to one another divided by douchebag quotient equals the probability an average individual will get laid? Crank the music a bit and the empty space could easily become a dance floor, but that would take the focus off the carefully crafted drink menu. Then again, given its shortcomings, that might not be such a bad idea.

    Though they feature interesting descriptions and high price tags, most of the house concoctions go down like juice.The “ginger-lee,” made with lemon juice, orange bitters, ginger syrup and rum, promises ginger but fails to deliver more than a faint aroma of it. Likewise, an interestingsounding drink made with ginger beer, club soda, amaro liqueur and red wine, while delicious, lacks the palate-teasing complexities that prompt one to slowly savor a $9 cocktail instead of gulping it down like so many rum and Cokes.

    The Richardson is not without its bright spots; its hot toddy proves a bonewarming harbinger of nicely spiced seasonal drinks to be added to the menu. And, not to be overlooked, the beer list boasts many reasonably priced local brews, while the wine list has helpful descriptions like “crisp green apple and a hint of yeast”—yum! There’s even a small assortment of gourmet nibbles. Much effort is evident in how the menu is put together, and the dapper staff is never anything less than helpful. Speaking of which, it’s nice to be able to order a drink in Williamsburg without pushing through crowds of handsy guys and shrill girls.

    This all makes me hope The Richardson will iron out the kinks. The space calls for antique lamps, cushions, maybe a throw rug. The vast Siberian quadrant would be a good spot to put more tables, because who likes to drink a $9 glass of booze standing up? The Richardson has great potential to serve the ever-pricier neighborhood around it, but it’s going to have to feel a bit more lived-in before it can bring wary locals along. -- The Richardson 451 Graham Ave. (at Richardson St.), Brooklyn, 718-389-0839, --