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Dutch Kills


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#1 slkinsey

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 09:02 AM

Last night I had the opportunity to visit Dutch Kills -- one of the City's exciting new bars, and the first serious cocktail joint of which I am aware to break ground in Queens. This is great news for those of us who live in neighborhoods that are not conveniently situated for transportation to/from the Downtown cluster of cocktail spots, and really it's quite convenient for most anyone in the city. It took us 30 minutes door-to-door from the Upper West Side, and Richie Boccato (more on whom anon) says it's an even faster ride for him all the way down and across town to Little Branch. This is because Dutch Kills is in Long Island City near the Citicorp building, not coincidentally in a neighborhood formerly known as Dutch Kills. If you've ever looked at an MTA New York Subway Map you may notice that Long Island City is a cluster of subway lines leading to virtually every part of the City. Dutch Kills is convenient to the E, V, G, N, R, W and 7 trains, not to mention a half-dozen bus lines.

The bar itself is both industrial and refined, opulent and unassuming -- all characteristics that will be familiar with anyone who has visited any of the other bars sprouting from Sasha Petraske partnerships. But Dutch Kills may be the most interesting. The entrance is a simple door on the side of a brick warehouse building emblazened with an industrial yellow sign advertising the presence of "Blue Prints Engineering, PC." Above the door is a simple neon sigh that reads: "BAR" in keeping with the usual aesthetic of understatement in this group's bars, and in complete harmony with the industrial feel of the neighborhood. Richie told me that he hopes to wire an interruptor to the sign at some point so that the letters will occasionally flicker and blink. All of which is to say that you wouldn't be surprised if you stuck your head in the door and saw a few dozen construction workers sucking down suds.

Instead what you get is a long narrow room with a low ceiling and polished wood booths of various sizes for table service. Further back this opens up into the bar area with 7 or 8 bar stools, a beautiful polished wood bar with chalkboards behind, and dramatic 18 foot ceilings. Beyond that is a small "lounge" area with sawdust on the floor and an upright piano (belonging to the Boccato family), which will be home to live ragtime/trad jazz music. Throughout, the walls are paneled in rich, polished dark wood. Throw in the bartenders with their short ties and arm garters, and Dutch Kills is as old school as old school can be.

While we're talking about old school, let's talk about the cocktail program. That's the real reason to visit, of course. As with most other Petraske-school places, Dutch Kills is not a spot for evolved modern mixology. You won't find fat wash drinks or many "new old school" cocktails at Dutch Kills, such as you might find at PDT or Pegu Club, et al. What you will find are impeccably curated ingredients available in an astonishing variety of classic cocktails and new cocktails in the classic style, all served in properly chilled, distinctive glassware with custom-cracked lumps of crystal-clear ice. Former Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club ace Giuseppe Gonzalez is often found behind the bar, among other talented barstaff, and Richie Boccato is everpresent shaking cocktails in the service area, consulting customers in the seating area and in general making sure everything is as it should be. Dutch Kills is very much Richie's baby and his influence pervades the bar. Hey, the guy put up the paneling himself! Although most of the publicity is calling it a "new Petraske bar," and I'm sure Sasha had a hand in its development, it seems apropos to call it Richie Boccato's bar.

As with most of the bars in this family, there isn't much of a "menu" to speak of. Currently a half-dozen Dutch- and Queens-themed cocktails (e.g., Queen's Park Swizzle, Netherland Cocktail, Steinway Punch, etc.) are featured on the chalkboards behind the bar and on Dutch Kills-logo cardstock specially designed with "fill in the blank" spots to write in the date, featured cocktails, wines and beers on offer. I haven't asked, but assume that this system means that the featured cocktail list will change with some frequency. Of course, as always, customers are encouraged to discuss their preferences, avail themselves of the bar staff and go "off menu" to whatever extent they desire.

While Mrs. slkinsey and I were there last evening, we had a Netherland Cocktail, a Mamie Taylor, a riff on the Martinique Daiquiri using an aged Puerto Rican rum, an Alaska Cocktail, a Holland Razor Blade, an Air Mail, a Dutch Julep (genever), an absolutely textbook Ramos Fizz. . . and probably a few more I can't remember for all the obvious reasons. Each one was expertly crafted, and we had the pleasure of light conversation with Giuseppe and watching him work as he chipped blocks of ice to fit the shaker and the various glassware required for each customer's drink.

The ice, as one might expect, is outstanding. They have twice-weekly deliveries of crystal clear 300 pound blocks of ice, which are broken down into lumps and pieces of various sizes and configurations depending on how it will be used. There are no open ice bins, and all the ice is stored in in freezers prior to use. The sole exceptions are a few giant hunks of ice off to the side of the bar that can be used in certain rocks drinks, but which I suspect are also "on display" at least as much to let the customers see the incredible ice than for any real use. These are some big chunks of super-cold, super-dense ice they're using over there, which offers them all kinds of advantages. Whereas really cold "normal" ice might shatter in the shaker, this ice is so dense that these guys can put one mammoth lump into the shaker, jackhammer like crazy getting a lot of movement, and end up with very cold, nicely aerated and never overdiluted drinks every time -- all made possible by the colder temperature, better density and physical size of the ice. Richie and Giuseppe took me around to see the several huge chest freezers full of broken-down block ice in the back, and it was pretty impressive. I'm hoping to come back sometime soon to photograph or perhaps even take some video when they process the ice, which I think would be of great interest around here.

Many of the bar fixtures aren't quite finished. They are still awaiting installation on their draft beer setup (yes, they will feature 4 beers on tap), and the sinks/speed rails are more or less templates of what they eventually want to have. To a certain extent, this offers them some flexibility in modifying the configuration depending on what they discover works best before it's set in stone (or stainless steel, as the case may be). Still, even just as it is, the setup is very nice. Each station is well designed, including a large freezer containing glassware, various special shapes of ice, and a platoon of extra-thick tempered glass mixing vessels for stirred drinks. It must be a pleasure behind the bar. In many ways, the whole design reflects a careful consideration of the lessons learned by Richie and the rest of the team through opening, operating and bartending in their several bars around the city. Even minor touches prove smart ones: Dutch Kills is a cash bar, and there is an ATM right there in the front. In addition, while Dutch Kills does not have a kitchen, they will be offering food in cooperation with nearby restaurant Sage.

I will post some of my (inevitably terrible) snapshots soon. Until then, you can see some good-quality representative shots here that show the bar in it's not-quite-finished state.


Oh.... and did I mention that cocktails are only nine dollars?


Dutch Kills
27-24 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, New York

Posted Image
The "BAR" sign isn't up yet in this picture.
The entrance is the large door on the right.



(Edited to fix typos.)

Edited by slkinsey, 06 May 2009 - 06:52 AM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#2 slkinsey

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 06:35 PM

As promised, some of my special no-talent snapshots. The picture quality sucks, but I do think it gives an impression of the place. . .

Posted Image
Entrance at night with the BAR sign illuminated.


Posted Image
Looking into the front room.


Posted Image
The bar area with the indefatigable Giuseppe Gonzalez behind the stick.
You can see the mammoth chunks of ice down there at the other end of the bar


Posted Image
Looking down the other end of the bar towards the service bar.
I think this picture gives some small idea of the dramatic height of the room.
Eventually they hope to rehabilitate and open an old skylight.


Posted Image
Continuing past the bar area is the "Sawdust Lounge."


Posted Image
A closer look at the big-ass ice.


Posted Image
Giuseppe is hand-cracking some ice while my Dutch Julep frosts up.


Posted Image
Closer look at the Dutch Julep.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#3 taion

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:20 AM

The ice, as one might expect, is outstanding.  They have twice-weekly deliveries of crystal clear 30 pound blocks of ice, which are broken down into lumps and pieces of various sizes and configurations depending on how it will be used.

View Post

Am I correct in understanding that this is different/better ice than that used in the other Petraske-related places? Do any other bars in the city work off big blocks of ice like that?

#4 TVC

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:40 AM

The ice, as one might expect, is outstanding.  They have twice-weekly deliveries of crystal clear 30 pound blocks of ice, which are broken down into lumps and pieces of various sizes and configurations depending on how it will be used.

View Post

Am I correct in understanding that this is different/better ice than that used in the other Petraske-related places? Do any other bars in the city work off big blocks of ice like that?

View Post


Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens and Jack The Horse in Brooklyn Heights chip from block ice, although I don't think from anywhere nearly as mammoth as the one shown in Mr. Kinsey's photo.
"Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a
claim on, even its ice compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like
food."" - Kingsley Amis

#5 slkinsey

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:52 AM

The ice, as one might expect, is outstanding.  They have twice-weekly deliveries of crystal clear 300 pound blocks of ice, which are broken down into lumps and pieces of various sizes and configurations depending on how it will be used.

Am I correct in understanding that this is different/better ice than that used in the other Petraske-related places? Do any other bars in the city work off big blocks of ice like that?

I'm not quite sure about that, actually. Sasha's places have always been noteworthy for using "big ice." That said, I could be wrong but pretty sure that, back in older days, places like Milk & Honey originally made their own "block ice" by freezing deep trays of filtered water and then breaking those down and keeping the pieces in the freezer. This can be good ice, but would have had many of the defects of conventionally frozen ice: There would be cloudiness from trapped bubbles and the ice would be no more dense or strong than the ice you get from your own freezer at home. The advantage was the size and the fact that ice stored in the freezer is colder than ice stored in an ice bin.

The ice they're getting at Dutch Kills is commercial block ice which, among other things, is specially frozen to be clear (no trapped bubbles, etc.). This is accomplished via a variety of means, but a usual way for clear block ice is to keep the water moving so that it freezes one layer at a time without trapping any precipitated air. The idea is that the ice freezes more or less the same way river ice freezes in the winter. The result is ice that is not only clear, but is more dense and strong than conventionally frozen ice.

As far as I know -- and I'm going on around 20 seconds of a conversation I had with Richie about the ice, so I could be mistaken -- all the Petraske-school bars are using this clear commercial block ice now, and have been for some time. If I'm correct about the way they originally produced their ice, I'm not sure when they went over to the commercial ice.

As far as I know, the only other bar using clear commercial ice is Don Lee at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. He may get his ice from the same guys, or from another supplier -- I don't know. Based on this report it sounds like he's getting the ice already broken down into precise two-inch cubes.

Edited by slkinsey, 06 May 2009 - 06:52 AM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#6 taion

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:58 AM

As far as I know -- and I'm going on around 20 seconds of a conversation I had with Richie about the ice, so I could be mistaken -- all the Petraske-school bars are using this clear commercial block ice now, and have been for some time.  If I'm correct about the way they originally produced their ice, I'm not sure when they went over to the commercial ice.

As far as I know, the only other bar using clear commercial ice is Don Lee at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.  He may get his ice from the same guys, or from another supplier -- I don't know.  Based on this report it sounds like he's getting the ice already broken down into precise two-inch cubes.

View Post

Weird! I was under the distinct impression that M&H, at least, was still using pan ice. The economics of this also seem a bit odd – i.e., Don charging $1/cube, but White Star offering $7 drinks before 9 PM.

#7 daisy17

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 07:07 AM

As far as I know -- and I'm going on around 20 seconds of a conversation I had with Richie about the ice, so I could be mistaken -- all the Petraske-school bars are using this clear commercial block ice now, and have been for some time.  If I'm correct about the way they originally produced their ice, I'm not sure when they went over to the commercial ice.

As far as I know, the only other bar using clear commercial ice is Don Lee at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.  He may get his ice from the same guys, or from another supplier -- I don't know.  Based on this report it sounds like he's getting the ice already broken down into precise two-inch cubes.

View Post

Weird! I was under the distinct impression that M&H, at least, was still using pan ice. The economics of this also seem a bit odd – i.e., Don charging $1/cube, but White Star offering $7 drinks before 9 PM.

View Post


I don't believe Ssam Bar is charging for the ice.

#8 slkinsey

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 07:12 AM

As far as I know -- and I'm going on around 20 seconds of a conversation I had with Richie about the ice, so I could be mistaken -- all the Petraske-school bars are using this clear commercial block ice now, and have been for some time.  If I'm correct about the way they originally produced their ice, I'm not sure when they went over to the commercial ice.

As far as I know, the only other bar using clear commercial ice is Don Lee at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.  He may get his ice from the same guys, or from another supplier -- I don't know.  Based on this report it sounds like he's getting the ice already broken down into precise two-inch cubes.

Weird! I was under the distinct impression that M&H, at least, was still using pan ice. The economics of this also seem a bit odd – i.e., Don charging $1/cube, but White Star offering $7 drinks before 9 PM.

Maybe they are still using the "pan ice." I don't know. Haven't been there in quite some time.

afaik they are not charging a buck for the ice at Momo. I think that must have been reported due to a misunderstanding by Robin & Rob.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#9 taion

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 08:21 AM

Thanks for the correction – looks like I have been lead into error by too readily believing food blogs!

#10 Kent Wang

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 04:44 PM

Looks nice and the price is great. Just curious, do you think nearly all their customers are going to be coming from outside Queens? I'm not too familiar with NYC demographics and such, but are there many cocktail aficionados in Queens?

#11 Rehovot

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 05:23 PM

Looks nice and the price is great. Just curious, do you think nearly all their customers are going to be coming from outside Queens? I'm not too familiar with NYC demographics and such, but are there many cocktail aficionados in Queens?

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Well, Astoria, just north of Long Island City, is one neighborhood with the demographics to support cocktail aficionados. If I had a job, I would probably be one myself. :wink: But I am content to wander along 30th Avenue and eat and drink myself silly for significantly less than what it would cost in Manhattan.

By request:
Percentage of population w/ household income <$50,000-$74,999
Long Island City, 11103: 20.7%
LIC/Astoria, 11106: 17.1%
Astoria, 11102: 17.1%
Astoria, 11105: 19.1%

#12 taion

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 07:31 PM

Maybe they are still using the "pan ice."  I don't know.  Haven't been there in quite some time.

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Just went by M&H – they're still using "pan ice" there, so I'd guess that Little Branch and White Star are as well, which I think leaves Dutch Kills as the bar using the best ice for actually making the drinks, if they do use clear commercial block ice.

#13 slkinsey

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:23 PM

Yep. I thought I had re-posted on this, but guess I hadn't got 'round to it. I asked Richie and he said that, as of right now, it is only Dutch Kills that is using the clear commercial block ice. At some point I plan to go there and take some photographs when they break down the 300 pound blocks.

Edited by slkinsey, 13 May 2009 - 10:24 PM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#14 taion

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 06:21 AM

Yep.  I thought I had re-posted on this, but guess I hadn't got 'round to it.  I asked Richie and he said that, as of right now, it is only Dutch Kills that is using the clear commercial block ice.  At some point I plan to go there and take some photographs when they break down the 300 pound blocks.

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Too busy smacking me down in the vodka thread? :raz:

Does the ice there make a difference? I'm wondering if it's worthwhile to head all the way to LIC for Dutch Kills when M&H is more accessible. Sounds like it's the same style of drinks, more or less?

#15 slkinsey

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 07:54 AM

Yea. It's the same "school of mixology" as at all of the other Petraske-partnership places. This is a fairly conservative school, I find, and most of the drinks are either classics (e.g., Brooklyn, Rye Silver Fizz) or neo-classic style (e.g., Red Hook, Silver Lining). Occasionally there will be a drink from this school that breaks out of the style just a bit, such as the Penecillin. All of which is to say that I find you can get more or less the same cocktails all in more or less the same stylistic space in all of the Petraske-partnership bars, and it doesn't tend to be mixology that is forward-looking in the way that it is at some of the other top cocktail bars in the city. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, by the way. I think it's wonderful to be able to avail ourselves of such fine craftsmen working in the "classic style" aesthetic space.

Whether the ice makes a difference to you is hard to say. I think it's pretty cool. But all the top cocktail bars are already using pretty good ice at this point.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#16 WK2

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 11:08 AM

We visited last night, and had an Astoria cocktail and a martinez, among a few other things. Great drinks. We were surprised to see that the bar really wasn't mobbed at all - I mean, arriving at 8:45 in a city cocktail bar of this quality would mean no entry, usually. Anyway, very chill place, and the fact that drinks are ony $9, in aggregate, does actually make a bit of a difference.

#17 Tom G

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 01:27 PM

Anybody know if they have started serving food yet?
There were apparently going to get it from the yummy Sage American Kitchen nearby.