Posted on | January 23, 2014
Written by | Alia Akkam
In one of Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhoods, locals gather at Extra Fancy for smoked paprika aioli lobster rolls and fried whole belly clams. But thanks to beverage director Robert Krueger, this elevated seafood shack also churns out tempting, playfully named cocktails.
THE BEVERAGE NETWORK: Extra Fancy is a true neighborhood spot. How is this reflected through the drink program?
ROBERT KRUEGER: A neighborhood spot needs to have the ability to do big nights out and celebratory events as well as the everyday, stop-in-for-a-beer night. We have options in every price range and we offer varying styles of cocktails, spirits, wine and beer.
TBN: Sipping a few beers here is just as cool as trying a new drink. How do you get locals to try your more spirited offerings?
RK: It’s all about sitting at the bar. A customer will see us mixing another order and it might be the way it’s prepared, that special garnish or the use of a bottle they already know and drink that makes them ask about it and maybe even want to try it. We pride ourselves in being an unpretentious, yet knowledgeable staff so I’d like to think we’re easy to approach and talk to. Often, we’ll give little tasters of a cocktail to guests or groups who are having a good time; a little thank you that is also in a way a sales pitch.
TBN: What are the most popular drinks right now?
RK: The Go-To (Fords Gin, St-Germain, fresh lime, mint, ginger beer) has always been a bestseller, with the One More, That’s it (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Flor de Caña Gran Reserva Rum, Amaro Meletti, chocolate bitters) coming in at a close second. The Mr. Personality (Hakushu whisky, Fernet Branca, Cocchi vermouth, Bénédictine) has also been doing very well. It has a rich, soothing, herbaceous character.
TBN: Extra Fancy has a slew of regulars. What do you think keeps them coming?
RK: Regulars are by definition friends of the house, and they become friends of the folks working and the other guests of the bar. Extra Fancy is a comfortable place to see your friends and to make new ones.
TBN: What developments at the bar are you most excited about?
RK: We’re going to be rolling out a classics ‘a la Fancy’ section using premium brands and updated recipes. While anyone can order a classic Manhattan or Aviation off-menu, we want to tell people, Hey, this is how you make an Alaska.
And for our Mixed Company series, we invite a bartender whose work we respect to come in and tend bar with us for a night. We also bring in a featured spirit and together we’ll create a one night-only menu of specialty cocktails. In a few weeks, we will be doing one with Amaro Montenegro and Nick Bennett from Booker & Dax. In the past we have worked with Christian Sanders, Sother Teague, Brett MacDonald and brands such as Rémy Martin, Knob Creek, Suntory, Pavan and Jim Beam.
TBN: Does the popularity of a restaurant like Extra Fancy reveal that customers’ needs and wants for bars are shifting?
RK: I’m not sure it’s a shift so much as a niche that we’re filling in the neighborhood. There are great cocktail bars and there are top-notch dining establishments that aren’t necessarily focused on the bar. We want to be that place where you can order a quality cocktail and delicious meal at any hour (the kitchen stays open till 3:30am) and get great service.