Frances: The cocktail, in my foolish and cartoonish opinion, is the vice of the leisure suit clad pseudo-sophisticate. I think “cocktail” and I think “pigs-in-a-blanket.” Unless there’s eggnog in that fancy glass, I’m usually not sold on it. But at The Johnson’s, suburban seventies tacky is re-imagined and spun fresh and lovely and somehow, nostalgia inducing. It was the perfect place to let go of my discriminatory attitude towards cocktails.

The Johnson’s Retro-Swanky-Cozy Appeal

Row: To me, the cocktail is about the excitement of discovery. Any day of the week you’ll drink a beer or maybe some boxed wine, if you’re feeling fancy. But most of us rarely drink cocktails, so the process of the cocktail is always exciting, something of an event. The ice, the shaking of the cocktail, the slow pour of liquid happiness over a single basil leaf into a fancy glass makes drinking feel new again. Combined with the family living room feel of The Johnson’s, it’ll bring you back to those very first days of having a drink, when it was all new and exciting. It’s like being fourteen again, when you and your friends first happened to find the key to your parents liquor cabinet. That’s when you discovered that drinking scotch straight from the bottle didn’t taste so great (but of course, you’ll come back around to it later, just in a glass this time, and you’ll know it’s called “neat”) but that vodka and Mountain Dew mixed together created a mixture that made it more palatable to get that alcohol down. Hence the birth by pure necessity of the cocktail.

Bartender Allison concentrates to concoct the perfect Fred’s Habit

Frances: Fred’s Habit, recommended by our bartender, seemed like the ideal place to start. The first thing that will strike you about Fred’s Habit is the ENORMOUS basil leaf floating around in it. Also the color–Fred’s Habit is a lovely golden brown, like maple syrup. And then you get walloped by the taste–it’s like having two sumo wrestlers, one coated in black rice vinegar syrup and one coating in Old Tom gin, dance delicately on your tongue, fighting for a victory that will elude them both. Finally, the two competitors will be overwhelmed by the draw of the stomach, and you’ll suck them both in, allowing the gin to work its magic into your bloodstream.


And to those who are interested in acquiring a taste for the finer drinks in life, The Johnson’s has a “cocktail hour” that runs from 5 to 9 PM every day. Their speciality cocktails are only $8, and their only-slightly-less-fancy cocktails are a mere $5.

The Johnson’s is located at 369 Troutman St, between Irving and Wyckoff, and can be reached at (718) 417-7100.