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On Transforming the Broadway Corridor: Jeret Pena, The Brooklynite's Future + More

Stephan Mendez, Jeret Pena and Rob Gourlay of The Boulevardier Group

Stephan Mendez, Jeret Pena and Rob Gourlay of The Boulevardier Group

One of the first barmen ever to test out Kinsman Rakia in cocktails in our very own taproom will open what is undoubtedly the city’s most anticipated new bar later this summer.

But this isn’t Jeret Pena’s first rodeo. After he helped open The Esquire Tavern in 2011, before moving on to open The Brooklynite in 2012, Pena has kept plenty busy and he’s learned a lot along the way. When the chance to lease a new space for the award-winning Brooklynite came up, he couldn’t pass it up. Not this time.

“Where The Brooklynite will be is where we wanted it to be from the beginning,” Pena said.

The appeal of opening his own craft cocktail bar superseded wanting to take on the higher rent of the Broadway corridor, which has seen enormous growth in the last five years. Pena and The Boulevardier Group leased the Brooklynite’s original location off Brooklyn Ave. and quickly turned it into a must-visit bar for the area, drawing plenty of national attention for their inventive cocktails, raucous Tiki Tuesdays and attention to detail.

Other bars would follow: Stay Golden Social House, The Last Word, The Old Main Assoc. (the latter would eventually close). Stay Golden, the casual patio bar with accessible porch-sippers, closed in 2017, only to open as Still Golden Social House, which Pena likens to an anarchist punk who grew up and went to college.

“It went off and got a degree, but it’s still kind of that punk kid. It’s a teenager that grew up,” Pena said.

Still Golden’s success, which he credits to its affordability and comfort level, have paid off enough to mean the barman can get back into cocktails.

“I didn’t want to let go of The Brooklynite. It (and Chris Hill at the Esquire) are what brought us here and put us on the map. We got tattoos of the damn thing!” Pena said.

After closing this past February, The Brooklynite will reopen behind Still Golden Social House at the intersection of Broadway and Grayson with a new look, and a re-imagined love of cocktails.

“It’s going to look timeless. The old Brooklynite looked like a period piece, a little doll house from the early 20th century,” Pena said. “We’re going with something more timeless you won’t be able to pin-point with Mid-century and splashes of art deco, Herringbone flooring, demascus wallpaper.”

Pena will lean on eau de vie, or unaged fruit brandies, for some of his creations.

“It’s a lot like math for me. If you can consolidate the strength of the spirit with its main flavor profile, like in Kinsman, you’re able to add modifiers and develop the complexity of the drink,” Pena said.

“That’s what I like about Kinsman — it’s a strong spirit and it puts that apricot flavor on center stage.”

Look for The Brooklynite to open with cocktails prices between $12-$18, for all to enjoy.

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