NYC is definitely known for its astounding amount of variety in all things, so much so that you may be scolded by an old friend visiting from LA for going to the same place all the time (at least I was). But I treasure my haunts, and I think it’s ok to have a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. Though that song was the theme for an 80s sitcom about a long-standing Boston bar, NYC too has neighborhood bars and restaurants that are consistently good and get a disproportionate share of my budget – namely: Trophy Bar.
While the mixology craze was in full bloom all over Manhattan a few years ago, and “speakeasy” re-entered the regularly-used lexicon of post prohibition-era NYC, Trophy materialized with its exposed brick walls adorned with vintage trophies and a huge backyard garden at the edge of Williamsburg on Broadway & Keap – an oasis amongst the storefronts & bodegas under the J train. The owners decided to make classic cocktails (and make them well), select a good range of drafts & wines, and keep a (very) full bar on every shelf. This neighborhood bar also has a surprisingly good sound system and roster of visiting djs that turn Trophy into an enviable dance party (my favorite monthly here being the Hardy Boyz : Blu Jemz, Lloydski & sTERRYo).
My personal barometer for a good “cocktail bar” is the Sazerac: a 100-year-old New Orleans classic recipe involving whiskey & absinthe. Trophy seems the only place that has perfected this concoction without charging an outrageous price for it. Other drinks Trophy has mastered include the Pimm’s Cup, the Negroni, the Verdita & the Michelada. Actual cocktails of the very-delicious variety in a laid-back setting? I come here so much I have my own button on the cash register. (not joking)
Trophy also has a menu of what may be coined “bar food”, but goes beyond the rote deep-fried offerings of the average pub. When the backyard is open, patrons enjoy outdoor eats like barbecue, tacos and most recently, baos from pop-up restaurant: Baoery. But Trophy’s year-round menu features well-done simplicity and ranges from classic made-to-order burgers on sesame buns to buttery shrimp rolls to home-made hummus with bulgur salad. The absolute star of the menu however, is the grilled cheese – easily one of the best in the city. The ingredients listed for this sandwich seem too simple for all the flavor achieved, and my friends and I love arguing about it every time we eat it (all the time). Thankfully, the grilled cheese is also a part of the happy hour menu – making Trophy the champion of neighborhood haunts.
351 Broadway, between Rodney & Keap