Billet & Bellows (177 Grand Street, Brooklyn; 347-294-4642) may be one of Williamsburg’s newest bars, but its owner, Kristina Kozak, has been a fixture in the neighborhood for almost two decades. A metal artist whose work can be seen throughout the hip enclave, Kozak had the foresight to purchase the bar’s building during the borough’s pre-gentrification days. The address has been home to everything from an art gallery to an antiques store; this is the first time the ground floor has had a full-service bar, complete with food, open to the public.
Kozak tapped into her own favorite drinks for the opening menu, and she’s serving a version of her very favorite cocktail, the dark ‘n’ stormy.
“You have to keep up with what is going on,” she says. “We put together a good-size cocktail menu,” which includes a section devoted to old standbys. The dark ‘n’ stormy evokes a sense of island life for Kozak — Bermuda, to be exact — and she suggests trying it especially if you’re looking to learn more about rum.
“The real dark rum is great in a drink instead of any kind of rum,” she says. “Ginger beer is very strong, really interesting-tasting…It’s straightforward.”
This is the first time Kozak has ventured into the world of food and beverages, and with that came a learning curve.
“You have to be completely on point constantly,” she says. “I’m not afraid of a big project at all. This was challenging because you really had to multitask. You really have to be focused.” Thankfully, living in Williamsburg provided her great access to many successful bars, particularly Hotel Delmano, which is one of her go-to spots in the neighborhood to grab a drink.
Another favorite cocktail of Kozak’s, and one you’ll find on the menu here, is a greyhound — the bar’s version adds rosemary to modify the traditional grapefruit and vodka combination. The recipes for both drinks are below.
The Dark ‘n’ Stormy
2 ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum
5 ounces ginger beer
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour rum over ice, then fill with ginger beer. Add lime wedge.
Splash rosemary simple syrup
1.5 ounces Tito’s vodka
4 ounces grapefruit juice
Sprig of rosemary for garnish
Pour all ingredients in a glass with ice. Stir. Garnish with rosemary.
Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.