Australian expat Sam Ross, one part of the duo behind New York bar Attaboy, has a new bar to play with (well, they’ve just opened Attaboy in Nashville as well, but that’s another story). Diamond Reef is the new bar we’re looking at here, and it’s set in an industrial precinct in Brooklyn; there’s a touch of mid-century design, with drinks that are “tiki-adjacent” (as the New York Times called them). With drinks of the calibre you’d expect from Ross and co, we’re kind of upset the bar didn’t open here.
What’s the idea behind Diamond Reef?
We certainly weren’t actively looking for another site for a bar in NYC, there are plenty here currently. Add sky-rocketing rents and difficult community boards to the equation and you could understand why it wasn’t at the top of our plans. When we saw the space and potential lease though, we changed our tune. The space was an old car repair shop on an underserved industrial strip on the border of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. It was perfect. To fit in with the tall ceilings and roomy backyard we went with a slightly tropical feel: Miami-pink concrete, teal banquettes, light teak wood panelling and plenty of plants. We wanted this place to feel like a bit of tropical escape to juxtapose the industrial nature of the immediate surroundings. The drinks fit in with this light summery vibe too; three frosty machines, eight beer lines, plenty of sherry, rose, agaves and aperitifs. We wanted this space to be a neighborhood bar but also a cocktail destination. Big groups are welcome (unlike at Attaboy, where square footage is not our friend) and people can drink fancy cocktails or $4 frosty mugs of Presidente. We have also installed a food truck in the backyard complete with a charcoal grill, offering meat, seafood and veggie skewers all night long.
Who are the owners of the bar, and how did it come about?
Anatoly Dubinsky had been offered this space and reached out to our opening Attaboy bartender Daniel Greenbaum, whom he had previously worked with, about checking it out. Dan brought myself and Michael McIlroy out to the site and we were immediately interested. We started constructing the idea behind Diamond Reef from there.
How’s the bar been received so far? Any challenges you had to overcome?
We are very happy with the response so far. Sitting nicely in the middle of four different neighborhoods, we have become a local hangout for a good swath of Brooklyn. The backyard is fantastic too. With real estate being so expensive in NYC, backyards this size are rare, and the fact that we are in an industrial area with no residents means we can keep that yard open until 3am along with the inside. The high volume nature of the venue has meant we have stripped down our menu and batched out the non-perishables for speed of service. Three of the list’s 10 cocktails come out of slushy machines. Damn these things are good. Everything is fresh and prepped ahead of service so the actual act of pulling someone a delicious, fresh cocktail is three seconds. I highly recommend them. I put two into my home bar.
Could you also share the specs for the Penichillin?
The frozen Penicillin, or, Penichillin (get it? Shout out to Whiskey Jerx for originally serving this, I miss that bar) had to be tweaked considerably to get to where we wanted it. We bumped up the sweetening agents by about 30 percent and add about one part water to two parts Penichillin mix to get the right level of slushiness. We still hit it with the smokey Islay after the fact, and garnish it with an umbrella, duh.