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 remarkable churro spot) is a relaxed, low-key, star-kissed night remembered not for the possibility of wild ragers, but for simple, graceful pleasures, like 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 feel made for lively trios. Alternatively, you can sit at the bar, generally occupied by moleskine journalists and the occasional corner DJ setup. Playing lightly overhead, in its stead, is maybe something from 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 of the local archipelago; the loudly rehabilitated former warehouses that dot 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 thing currently 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 curated for hip cinephiles (there is both a “Badlands” and a “Bladerunner”), and for those who, ultimately, take themself less seriously (there is a “Dead Arm” and “English Motel,” and something simply called a “Success Cocktail”). Most of these run on the savory side of sweet, settling for the smokey instead of the comfortable: no fewer than two have a mezcal base and two others, more prominently, feature mint. Other spices, like chile liquor and cayenne, abound.
But the bar’s title cocktail (the “Meet Me at Sundown”) is nothing like any of these. Instead, it consists of 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 also easily what Sundown makes best.
Sundown is open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
All images taken by Andrew Karpan.