The neon sign flashes like a Bat signal made just for me. “Cocktails,” it announces, referring to my secret superpower of heavy liquor consumption. “Joy,” it beckons, calling me by my given name like a friend in need. My head whips around in a cartoon-worthy double take— clearly this new bar on the corner of Lorimer Street and Meeker Avenue in my own sweet Williamsburg is calling to me, and me alone.
The bar, dubbed Night of Joy, opened at the end of May. Inside, the long, rectangular space is broken up at the far end by a pool table. Graphically patterned wallpaper creates the backdrop for sconces of psychedelic deer, and couches are covered ever so carefully with new, vintage-looking, perfectly mismatched fabric. Even the bathroom sports anchor-shaped hooks that look as though they’re made specifically to hold vintage handbags or canvas totes from local arts institutions. Everything is perfectly precious and looks made-to-order from an Anthropologie catalog. Basically, the décor screams Brooklyn.
The most authentic thing in the joint is the bartender’s two-pack-a-day rasp of a voice. As she slides a handwritten cocktail menu toward me, she explains that Night of Joy was named after a bar found in A Confederacy of Dunces. Jennifer Armstrong and Henrietta Paris, the pair behind The Dove Parlor, a sure-fire first date spot on Thompson Street, are the proprietresses.
One unexpected element is Night of Joy’s rooftop space, which is open until midnight on weeknights and 1 on weekends, and accessible from a metal staircase at the back of the bar. Heavy lawn furniture and carpets spread on cement make for a friendly atmosphere. The outdoor space was lively on a recent Thursday evening, has a view of the BQE and surrounding billboards. A rooftop margarita bar opened just last weekend.
The cocktails, which clock in at $9, cover a good range of tastes, from cilantro bloody Marys to orange blossom rum lemonade. The bison grass vodka with apple and goji berries tastes, in my friend’s words, like a gentle wind on her tongue—dangerously drinkable. The Jalapeño tequila with black currant and lime proves too heavy on the lime, though the tequila has a pleasant zing. The currant, like the goji berries, adds to the fancy factor, but little to the taste. The rosemary bourbon with ginger and lemon makes for a lightly savory drink with flavors that marry well, while the gin martini is spot-on and garnished with a sturdy olive.
Aside from the martini, none of the mixed drinks are particularly strong, a theory proved by steady feet after a course of three cocktails in rapid succession.
In the end, Night of Joy is a casual place with reliable cocktails that are not quite as good as those at Hotel Delmano, but better than ones found at The Richardson. And ultimately, Confederacy of Dunces offers some pretty solid advice when a character shouts, “Hey! All you peoples draggin’ along here. Stop and come stick your ass on a Night of Joy stool.”
>> Night of Joy 667 Lorimer St. (at Meeker Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-388-8693.