At 61 Local, a new public house in Cobble Hill, a focus on craft permeates every corner, from the exemplary brews and first-rate food to the elegant but understated interior, which was designed with an emphasis on reclaimed and other ecologically responsible materials in mind. The owner, David Liatti, a Brooklynite who also runs an engineering and design firm, has tapped into the desire for all things local in the borough, and he’s combined his love of beer, dedication to community and impeccable design sense to infuse his impressive new bar with regional creativity.
The open, expansive space, with exposed brick, high ceilings and communal tables, creates the feeling of a small-scale beer hall, but the warm lighting and other design touches help to achieve an air of intimacy. Light boxes covered with embroidery from neighborhood artist Iviva Olenick line the walls and emanate a soft glow, and illuminated carboys (vessels used in home brewing) hang from the ceiling. Rough-hewn tables to stand at and customdesigned bamboo communal tables with accompanying benches encourage large groups as well as strangers to commingle.
A not-to-scale map of the Northeast behind the bar gives a Brooklyn-shaped chalkboard the starring role, which provides a perfect platform for listing the contents of the regularly rotating taps. All of the bar’s beverages, which include beer, wine, cider, kombucha tea (from BKKB Kombucha) and soda (from Brooklyn Soda Works) are available only on draft, which is a clever solution to the problem of waste, since this eliminates the need for bottles to dispose of later.
Though many of the pub’s offerings are from Brooklyn-based purveyors, 61 Local also carries off-the-beaten-path brews from around the region. On a recent crowded Friday night, lovely, helpful bartenders made excellent suggestions (though it would be hard to go wrong with the spectacular selection available), and offered tastes of the smoky Sixpoint Diesel ($6) and the powerful Ramstein Eisbock ($7) from High Point Brewing in New Jersey. Other delights included Ithaca Brewing’s Flower Power ($6), a strong, fruity IPA; the light and refreshing Victory Helles ($5) from Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing; and the dark and delicious Southampton Baltic Porter ($6). And the new trend of tap wine that a number of establishments, from Eataly to Williamsburg’s St. Anselm, have already embraced fits perfectly at 61 Local, where the Thirsty Owl Pinot Noir ($8) tasted smooth and refreshing.
Chris Munsey, who has lent his talents to Murray’s Cheese and Dickson’s Farmstand, brings his broad knowledge of local artisanal foods to bear on 61 Local’s menu of snacks and sharing plates. It includes cheeses from Salvatore Bklyn and Landaff cheese (from the White Mountains of New Hampshire), meats from locals Salumeria Biellese and Brooklyn Cured, pickles from McClure’s and fine baked goods from SCRATCHbread. The bar’s sumptuous signature snack, the 61 Local Ricotta Toast ($6), delivers two dense slabs of focaccia slathered with a thick, creamy layer of Salvatore Bklyn ricotta that’s drizzled with honey and dusted with pistachios.
61 Local has taken the concept of the local bar and elevated it to a fine art by creating an inviting, sustainably focused space in which locals not only commune, but also appreciate the edible achievements of some of their most talented compatriots. And this makes 61 Local something to celebrate.
61 Bergen St. (betw. Boerum Pl. & Smith St.), Brooklyn,