The opening of a wine bar in Bushwick might sound like a chi-chi example of gentrification. But The Bodega, a warmly lit spot with a neighborly vibe nestled among warehouses and graffiticovered apartment buildings, works hard to avoid any whiff of pretension and succeeds heartily.
This cozy new bar emphasizes an international selection of carefully crafted wines and beers, radiating an air of inclusion that feels like an open invitation to savor a bit of the good life. gina Leone and Ben Warren, two Bushwickers who spent a year living in Sevilla, opened The Bodega in March, inspired by the abundant neighborhood bars in Spain that encourage relaxed communing over a glass of wine. The Bodega (which, in Spain, means wine cellar, as opposed to new York’s corner stores) seems to court a wide spectrum of potential converts, and on a mid-week evening, the scene included heavily tattooed loft dwellers (some of whom seemed to be on a first-name basis with the bartender), Spanish-speaking locals and an older couple.
The compact space, with the soft glow of dangling lights illuminating richly colored walls and hardwood floors, is intimate and well-suited to the task of bringing people together for drink and discussion. And the menu was succinct enough that it wasn’t too intimidating. one side, devoted to white, rosé, red and sparkling wines, heavily skewed towards Spain, france and italy; the other side listed bottled beers, mostly from germany and Belgium.
The wines and beers change frequently, often on a weekly basis, as the owners seek new blends and brews. They call on the talents of a distributor in Belgium who delivers lesser-known gems like De Dochter van de Korenaar Courage ale and LA ChoUffe, a blonde ale, which were on tap alongside new York’s olde Saratoga Lager and hitachino nest, a hefeweizen from hong Kong. Several beers and glasses of wine fell in the $5 to $6 range, so affordable imbibing was definitely possible, though the majority of the menu was located in more expensive territory. And to complement these, The Bodega’s rotating selection of artisanal meat-andcheese plates boasted charcuterie from Brooklyn’s Les Trois petits Cochons and humboldt fog goat cheese from California, among other treats.
When asked for advice, the bartender was quick to offer a taste of several wines, but his knowledge of some of the newer additions to the menu was a bit lacking. Together we tried Coalescence, a Long island white wine blend from Shinn estate, and i was sold on its refreshing sweetness with hints of citrus.
With every sip, i listened to the hum of conversation, the bursts of laughter and the sound of the simple enjoyment of a drink with friends. And i was easily convinced that The Bodega’s owners had greatly enhanced this little corner of Bushwick in their quest to create a space to cultivate the appreciation of some basic, but essential, pleasures.
>> The Bodega 24 Saint Nicholas Ave. (at Troutman St.), Brooklyn, 646-924-8488.
No cats, just foxes at this Bodega.