“We still get people who come in and think this is a jewellery store. I laugh and tell them to look around.”
We’re chatting and drinking with Alissa Atkinson, General Manager of Precious Metal in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The name may suggest otherwise, but it is amusing to think that people come to Precious Metal for jewellery. One step into this breezy, light-drenched bar and you won’t be thinking of jewellery but of drinks. Delicious, thoughtful, beautiful drinks…
Precious Metal sits in the middle of Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that will make you wonder how many “cool-looking” people can really fit in a 15-block radius. And while many of the bars in the area are attempting the dive bar look, Precious Metal has forged its own mould (pun very much intended).
“Bushwick used to be like, if you don’t have a beer and shot special, and you don’t have $4 cans, then you’re screwed. We wanted to reject that idea.”
They’re doing something right. With its hanging plants, impressively high ceilings, white brick, and distressed metal touches, this is not a “typical” Bushwick bar. The crowd on a normal night is diverse, from age to creed, and Alissa likes it that way.
“I think the neighborhood is growing up a little bit. People are out for quality versus quantity. While we are getting a bit of that Manhattan crowd moving in (read: uncool), which is a bit of a drag, overall, the clientele tends to be musicians and artists in their 30s and 40s. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
This being said, Alissa’s nights bartending here are not without incident.
“We forget as bartenders, since we have so many good nights, that we are dealing with people at varying levels of intoxication. That can be tough sometimes, especially as a woman. I’ve had to handle people who’ve gotten hammered in the daytime. Cutting someone off at 4pm is really weird.”
With 12 years of bartending in New York City, however, Alissa has a few tricks up her sleeve.
“If somebody’s super wasted, I’ll give them their tab and make them think that they already said they were leaving. It’s a Jedi mind trick that actually works a lot of the time. I keep it really bright and cheery and they usually just leave.”
Almost everything about this place is “bright and cheery”, from the space, to Alissa, to the Brockmans drink she’s made for us, the “Songbird.” We can’t wait to try it… Muddled cucumber and cilantro line the glass, like specks of bright green paint.
“When people say they don’t like gin, I feel like they’ve just had bad gin, or something too juniper-forward, or piney, or rotgut,” she says, smiling. “But Brockmans doesn’t taste like a typical gin. It’s softer, and doesn’t need much. So I kept it light, simple, and refreshing.”
As summer isn’t over yet, this is exactly what we needed.
by Alissa Atkinson
- 2 oz/60 ml Brockmans Gin
- 2 cucumber coins
- small bunch of cilantro
- .5 oz/15 ml simple syrup
- In bottom of tin, muddle cucumber coins, cilantro, and simple syrup.
- Add Brockmans.
- Shake vigourously.
- Dirty dump (without straining) into highball glass.
- Top with seltzer. Garnish with a cucumber coin.