Passing the Bar: Ellis

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:13

    What I love about going out in Brooklyn,” declares Ellis regular Cory Smith, “is I can wear whatever I want and never feel inferior.”  Such is the unpretentiously welcoming vibe at the new South Slope watering hole—where T-shirts and tattoos are just as common as collared shirts.

    Though its doors have only been officially reopened since mid-October—a freak basement flood caused a month-long closure in September after less than 10 weeks of business—patrons and bartenders exchange congenial first name hellos as if the place has been around for years. In fact, the sparklingly clean bathrooms prove this bar’s age. Even the overstocked mahogany bookshelves are dust free, and they display a comical diversity of titles that range from The Encyclopedia Britannica to Scoring: A Sexual Memoir.

    After browsing the books, I cozied up to the dimly lit bar on one of the many conversation-inducing swivel stools to make another happy discovery:  $3 cans of PBR, served all day, every day. Along with its similarly priced Mexican cousin Modelo, these cheap aluminum options represent the requisite “hipster fare,” as Jason White, a recent Brown graduate, terms it. But the tastelessness ends there, as a decidedly non-boring array of 12 draught brews—ranging from the Rhineland’s Gaffel Kolsh pilsner to Belgium’s high-alcohol Delirium Tremens to New England’s Harpoon IPA—make me salivate. The only aberration to this quality lineup is the Rolling Rock on tap, also a member of the $3 beer club.  

    I’ve already sucked down two glasses of Delirium Tremens ($8) before the short cocktail menu catches my eye. While the Tequila Passion ($10), an icy Cuervo and passion-fruit juice mix, sounds tasty, my guess is this list goes underutilized; the twenty-somethings who populate this establishment seem the type who would rather their booze straight up. And despite ample availability in the wine category, grapes are an afterthought in the face of the abundant grain-based choices.   

    Before long, I’ve entered the evening’s trivia contest, a weekly ritual that attracts considerable participation given the otherwise sleepy atmosphere of a Tuesday night in Park Slope. I scored dismally, but my spirits are lifted when I learn that Wednesday nights are Bourbon and Bluegrass parties, featuring 25-cent shots of McCormick and a helping of local twang. I picture the dancing festivities bound to unfold in this spacious, double-roomed saloon, but the dartboards might have to be shut down during the show. Other notable weekly specials include $2.50 mugs of beer after 10 on Thursdays, $2 shots from 10 to 11 on Friday nights and free tacos in the wee hours between midnight and 2 am on Saturdays.  

    The late night supply of crunchy treats is no doubt an attempt to fill bar-goers’ booze-soaked bellies, but it also provides a good excuse to sample some of the kitchen’s Southwestern-style tapas, which are meant to be shared. It’s all part of what owner and bartender Alison Cunningham describes as the “good beer and cheap food” mission of this joint.       As W. would say, mission accomplished.