Published on July 13th, 2012 | by Dipsology0
Bar Spotlight: Blueprint in Park Slope
The space now occupied by Blueprint on 5th Avenue near Union Street in Brooklyn’s Park Slope used to house a modern Thai bistro and a bar that specialized in mango martinis and margaritas called Long Tan. When I ask owner Rory Dwyer about the evolution into classic cocktail bar and farm-to-table menu, he says he “was ready for something different.” After a vast and varied career that began in Tipperary, Ireland, included a stint at the Soho institution Raoul’s and as the owner of three other Brooklyn watering holes, he also finally had enough money to really focus on quality. So he built the bar that he wanted to go to.
He chose his business partner Regina Christiansen – whose cocktail career got started making the aforementioned mango martinis – because she “has a great palate, and is extremely detail oriented.”
Towards the end of Long Tan (which ran for ten years from 2001-2011), Regina started dabbling in classic cocktails. “Once I get into something, I really get into it” she says – and in cocktails, she is primarily self taught.
Before moving behind the bar, Regina was a vegetable farmer. At Blueprint, she is able to marry her interest in sustainable agriculture with alcohol: the food menu is seasonal, and locally sourced, and a number of the spirits are small batch from artisanal producers.
Regina’s farm background is also part of the explanation behind one of Blueprint’s current cocktail offerings, the Fifth Doctor, which features scotch and homemade celery soda. “Rory mentioned lovage one day,” she explains, “and I thought, ‘I love lovage.’” So she started experimenting with celery (which is similar to lovage in taste), and after some tinkering, a cocktail was born. “We’re always bouncing ideas off each other,” she says of Rory. One experiment that hasn’t made it to the menu yet is scotch and seaweed. “That one didn’t work out so well.”
Blueprint’s menu includes a “House Cocktails” and a “Classics” section. Both rotate on a regular basis – depending on the season, and the staff’s inspiration. “It’s very collaborative,” says Rory, of the menu process, “everyone is encouraged to contribute.”
A few “cult favorites” stick around – like the Smoky Mary’s, which Regina describes as a “very spicy margarita”, and the Kickstarter, which contains coffee and rum and “looks like a Guinness in a coupe.” The impetus for that cocktail was Blueprint’s investment in an espresso machine. “If we were going to spend the money, we had to make a cocktail out of it,” says Rory. He adds, “Anyone who tastes it has two.”
But the most popular drink by far is the Old Fashioned. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is also Regina and Rory’s favorite cocktail.
So when’s the best time to sample some of these delicious tipples? It depends. If you want to sit at the bar and have an in depth chat with the bartender, come by Sunday-Wednesday. The bar is busiest on Friday and Saturday nights after 8pm – no big surprise – but perhaps the best kept secret is brunch, served from 12-5pm Saturday and Sunday, when you can sample any of three types of Bloody Mary alongside your biscuit with turkey gravy in Blueprint’s charming backyard garden.
We’ll meet you there.