82 Berry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-1945

M recently moved to Billyburg and, aware of my new fetish for mixology bars, asked if I wanted to go with her to Hotel Delmano. Of course, how could I say no? We wandered over to where it was alleged to be.

Hotel Delmano (neither in a hotel or, for that matter, anywhere near one) follows one fundamental rule of the modern New York speakeasy. No sign, no awning, no neon beer sign. It just exists and you either know about it or you don't. Hotel Delmano sits unobtrusively under a single glowing globe of light, behind a wrought iron gate, on a peaceful, residential, tree lined street, away from the bustle of Bedford Avenue. It's decor and menu evokes a feeling of going to a banana republic back in the good old days (depending on your point of view I suppose) when the sun never sat on the British Empire. I could almost picture a guy in a fez wandering in and striking up a conversation with someone walking with an ivory handled cane.

Hotel Delmano, despite being a premium cocktail lounge created by some of the top mixologists in the city, is so relaxed and so casual, so far from pretension and poseurs that it almost makes me want to cry in pity for the poor slobs who stand on line for an hour to get into some club-of-the-moment just to do a tequila shot. A lot of people bitch and moan about hipsters, but I'll give them this: they know how to chill.

We grabbed two empty seats at the bar and waved for some drinks. The menu has about a dozen specialty cocktails to choose from and sampled three. M tried the Gin Lilly, gin, lillet, lemon, lime, and cucumber. The perfect summer evening drink, like a cucumber lemonade. It had that lemonade tang, but was completely mellowed by the cucumber. It was like drinking a cool breeze. I ordered a Tennessee Rose, bourbon, cherry brandy, dry vermouth, and pomegranate grenadine. M felt that it was too strong for her and it was far more liquor tasting than the gin lilly was, but if you like whiskey based drinks and berries and think that marrying them would be nice if only you knew how to, then this is the way to go for you. I liked it. I'll get it again. Finally, we shared a Colonista, which officially sealed the colonial vibe I got when I sat down. Rum, Pimms, lime, and pineapple. If that's not British Empire circa 1905, then I don't know what is.

So I'm debating whether or not I can say that, of the cocktail lounges I've been to so far (and I can't deny that have plenty more to go), Hotel Delmano ranks as the best. It actually might be. It was certainly nice to have gotten a seat right away, but that might have been a fluke. It's not really bigger than the rest in terms of seating. It's less expensive than most of the others and the atmosphere was so relaxed that I found myself debating whether to move in under a table.

The cocktails average about $11 each.

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