Greenpoint is getting popular with twentysomething refugees from Williamsburg and Manhattan, but the neighborhood is still predominantly Polish. So, when Dan Lanier decided to open a bar with an international twist, locals were surprised to find that he was serving more Guinness than Zywiec.
“England has all these gorgeous little pubs,” said Lanier, a British ex-pat who’s tried to replicate the charm of an English watering hole with Black Rabbit. “The kind of places that are beautiful, but still might have someone getting sick in the corner.”
The good news is that the Black Rabbit is beautiful — despite the complete absence of customers yakking in the shadows. The glistening dark wood tables, cozy booths and simple red-and-black color scheme — not to mention the portrait of Lanier’s dapper great grandfather, whose nickname gave the bar its name, hanging on the wall — create an ambience akin to that of a speakeasy run by a charmingly louche Oxford don.
“The place might look a little fancy, but we want it to be as populist as possible,” Lanier said of his two-month-old haunt. “It’s the kind of place I’d want to hang out.”
The bar’s offerings show that Lanier isn’t just paying lip service to mass appeal. Black Rabbit offers both $15 bottles of Lindemans Framboise and three-buck cans of Miller Lite. In addition to whimsical cocktail specials and a healthy selection of wine and liquor, there’s also a small but thoughtful menu of sliders, a cheese plate and Welsh rarebit spooned over tater tots.
When the weather cools down, expect to find shepherd’s pie and Guinness stew warming patrons’ bellies.
How has rapidly gentrifying Greenpoint responded to the arrival of this quaint, snuggly, very English newcomer? “Business,” said Lanier with a smile, “has been better than expected. Greenpoint’s still a real neighborhood, you know?”
Black Rabbit (91 Greenpoint Ave., between Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street in Greenpoint) is open Monday through Wednesday from 4 pm-2 am, Thursday and Friday from 4 pm-4 am, Saturday from noon-4 am and Sunday from noon-2 am. For information, call (718) 249-1595.