The teething lovechild from the minds of besties Nikke Alleyne and Justine LaViolette, the Bush was born from their search for a place to express themselves safely and dance freely. When brainstorming a name to suit the new space, the duo took inspiration from the history of gay bars with silly names, and ultimately landed on “The Bush” since, according to Alleyne

, “most people can have a bush, and we love bushes.” Real.

Tired of being guests at straight bars or gay bars catering primarily to cis-men, Alleyne and LaViolette decided to take the reins and become the hosts for a change. The duo felt a loss from the scarcity of queer bars catered towards lesbians, and felt urged to create a place with an “ease of having a queer shorthand with someone and not having to justify what you need to a straight audience,” as LaViolette put it. 

As newbies to the bar scene, and with struggles against landlords and lenders, they told me that they had to become very familiar with the word “no” before opening doors at Troutman street, right off the Jefferson L. 

Throughout the long-winded project, and with no prior bar experience, the pair opened their self-proclaimed “dyke bar for the queers” in late April.

Star Luna, one of the bartenders, told me that picking up this gig allows them to “showcase my queerness and my transness without making me feel like I need to police myself or water myself down.”

After that explosive opening weekend, LaViolette says that the Bush continues to receive an outpouring of support from the queer community. “It feels really surreal, I feel like I haven’t even fully processed it,” she tells me. 

Though the two have no prior experience working at bars, they had hired someone named Syan Rose to put together a cocktail menu that aims to give cadence to their ideals of creating a space where queers from all backgrounds can find their preferences, whether drinks or people.

“Part of the reason we wanted to start this six years ago was because of the lack of spaces,” says Alleyne.

Their favorite of these is the popular “Island They,” which emphasizes Rose’s Caribbean influences, from its drink’s use of rum to its employment of hibiscus notes. Originally named after Rose’s partner, a nonbinary Trinidadian, the drink’s name plays on the name of the traditional “Island Girl” drink. LaVioletta also recommends the “Pillow Prince,” which transcends the limits of traditional bourbon cocktails and, instead, feels light and refreshing and comes garnished with a candided orange. 

The Bush is located at 333 Troutman Street.

Image taken by Sophia Valdez for Bushwick Daily.

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