In the past year, Clinton Hill and neighboring Fort Greene have seen an influx of new tippling spots that have raised the bar for the area’s nightlife. The newest addition, Hanson Dry, has made drinking in the vicinity even better by offering a full bar and well-crafted cocktails for under $10. Sure, you can go get a decent old-fashioned at No. 7 if you are willing to pay Manhattan prices and want to deal with the snotty attitude from certain bartenders, but since it’s your time, money and liver, it’s refreshing to have another choice.
Housed in what used to be a laundromat also called Hanson Dry, the idea came to the ‘hood by way of Franklin Park and Southpaw owner Matt Roff and Anatoly Dubinsky, of Soda Bar and Cornelius. The pair built the space into a 1950s-style spot with a gorgeous, handmade mirror, a nice, long bar and a cozy, U-shaped banquet lining the back room. Hanson Dry also sports a large backyard that has yet to be put to the warm-weather test. Based on size alone, however, it’ll be a hit once the city defrosts.
While the space came out well, the menu, created by Brooklyn Social alum Christopher Buckley, is composed of an oddly whimsical but completely uninformative list of beverages. Take for example The Tux (all cocktails $9), described as "Whiskey, Risky. Classic." This failed to actually tell me anything about the beverage, and when I got to the actual ingredients, it was clear the special drinks weren’t innovative, just lazy. That doesn’t make them bad—everything I’ve tried has been well executed—they just lack the creativity one expects in a cocktail bar like this.
Back to The Tux: It has an absinthe wash, Overhill Rye, bitters and a cherry, and its fresh, almost minty taste was good, but brought to mind a Sazerac more then anything new. If you are in a James Bond sort of mood, order The Adopted ("A Keeper"), a refreshing glass of cold Bulldog gin that gets a nice kick from Absolut Pepper. The Nautilus ("Tequila, Cranberry. Stealthy."), offers an easygoing, fruity sort of cocktail, but the Hayterade ("Rum, Sweet. Punchy."), proved just a few steps above an overly saccharine Tiki drink. The bar’s signature drink, The Hanson Dry, was overly ginflavored despite a nice vanilla finish, though it too lacked excitement.
The best bet here is a glass of Bulleit on the rocks; for $9 it’s basically a double shot of bourbon, well worth the price. The bar also offers eight rotating beers on tap, but again you really have to engage with the bartender to know what they are. The light-up menu by the bar only lists them as pale ale ($6), lager ($5), pilsner ($5), dark ale ($5) and so on. Some of the brews they have been pouring in the past include Negro Modelo, Victory Storm King Imperial Stout, Stone Pale Ale and Southhampton’s IPA.
For a neighborhood cocktail bar, Hanson Dry definitely adds to Clinton Hill’s repertoire and, given time, hopefully the menu will mature along with the venue. As it stands now, I’ll go back, albeit waiting for something unique there to really wow me.
>>Hanson Dry 925 Fulton St. (betw. Clinton & Waverly Aves.)
Brooklyn, no phone.