For every kind of night out, there surely is a bar. The kind of evening that beckons from Ridgewood’s Sundown Bar (located snugly between a sun-filled wine shop and a rather remarkable churro location) is a relaxed, or low-key as the kids say, star-kissed night remembered not for the possibility of wild ragers, but for simple, graceful pleasures like eventually getting to bed buzzed on a school night.
Space can get tight in the 100-or-so-square-foot bar. If you arrive early enough, seating can be found in front of a number of low-rising, walnut shaped tables that are made for lively trios.
Alternatively, you can sit at the bar, occupied with some permanence by moleskine journalists and an unattended corner DJ setup. Playing lightly overhead, in its stead, is maybe a Soul Jazz compilation or a recently remastered Sun Ra record.
It’s a bar we’ve all been to before but feels miles away from the deliberate messiness that accents the local archipelago of loudly rehabilitated former warehouses doting the borders of Brooklyn and Queens. It will come as no surprise to that this bar shares ownership with Greenpoint’s Troost, a bar-dash-cafe named after a random street in Kansas City. Calm minimalism has arrived in Ridgewood.
Unlike Troost, food options are as limited as space: a small plates of olives is the only item on the menu. However, bartenders are known to randomly surprise patrons with pewter cups of Chex Mix.
The cocktail menu is split evenly between the bar’s original creations and standard fare—a beer menu is tucked far-flung on the wall, as if an afterthought, and a separate list of very naturalistic-sounding wines is also available.
The originals on the cocktail list are worth looking over longingly, with lovely names that feel curatored for the hip cinephile (there is both a “Badlands” and a “Bladerunner”), who refuses to, ultimately, take themself seriously (there is a “Dead Arm” and “English Motel,” and something simply called a “Success Cocktail”). Most of these are on the savory side of sweet, settling for the smokey instead of the comfortable: no fewer than two have a mezcal base, two more prominently feature mint. Other spices, like chile liquor and cayenne, also abound.
But the bar’s title cocktail (the “Meet Me at Sundown”) is nothing like any of these. It is, instead, a large glass of orange juice, like the kind mothers were once told to pour for their nuclear families, with some brunchy mixers (a dash of cappelletti and prosecco) and an orange peel tossed in for good measure.
This is a fine way to begin one of those long, calm evenings but cocktails at Manhattan prices ($12 per) will add up.
You are advised, then, to move on to Sundown’s negronis, which are offered mercifully on tap, where they can be bought for $6 during happy hours. They are richer and darker-tasting than those you might make at home and are easily what Sundown makes best.
Sundown Bar is open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
All images courtesy of Sundown Bar.