Word broke yesterday that Andy Ricker—he of the addictive chicken wings—had officially opened his newest venture Whiskey Soda Lounge in Cobble Hill. Less than a block away from his constantly packed Pok Pok, the new lounge serves as a kind of staging area for folks clamoring to indulge in the chef's flavorful Thai cuisine. At least, that was the original intention, but after visiting early last evening, its clear the bar won't stay in the shadow of its sibling for long.
The new lounge is almost identical to the front room at Pok Pok: wood paneled walls, lots of small two and four top tables and a dainty bar for a few patrons at the back. Photos of Thai boxers and other nicknacks adorn the walls, but for the most part the space feels clean and open, leaving room for the drinks and foods to make the statements.
You'll find many of the same cocktails from Pok Pok at Whiskey Soda Lounge, like the delicious Mango Alexander ($12), a mango, vodka and coconut cream concotion served in a metal cocktail glass and tasting like a refined pina colada. You don't so much taste the mango, but you really don't care; it's like being transported to a breezy, slightly humid beach without leaving Brooklyn. The Lord Bergamot ($12) has a lovely tea flavor from the infused vodka, plus a great balance of sweet and and sour from orange liqueur and vinegar. The cocktails really fit, a feat not easily accomplished, as evidenced by the over-wrought cocktail programs popping up at every new restaurant in town.
A hearty selection of bar snacks and other hot plates can also be procured and, though small in size, the dishes are hearty enough to stand in for a larger meal, especially when ordered in multiples. We opted for the Sai Muu Thawt ($8) to begin, receiving plate full of tender, crispy stewed pork chitlins that had been fried to just the other size of well-done. That's a compliment, as the fat of the intestines rendered perfectly, leaving an insanely intense porky-flavor with the texture of slightly chewy bacon. Get over any offal aversions and order them.
Next up, the Jin Tup/Muu Tup Roht Dii ($14), or the "MSG Beef" as our server referred to it. Incredibly tender and moist grilled flank steak and pork neck, "pounded with a sledge hammer"—it looks shredded—and served with a chile-galangal dipping sauce. Ricker isn't the only chef embracing the fear-inducing food additive and it's to our benefit as diners; the meat has tons of flavor and doesn't have to be referred to by a pseudonym.
Ricker also fries up his signature wings, lacquered with the addictive fish sauce, garlic and chiles that gave him his cult following. Until word gets out, Whiskey Soda Lounge might be the best place to eat the wings on the DL, and snack on some other delicious dishes while you're at it.
115 Columbia Street, Cobble Hill, (718) 797-4120, whiskeysodalounge-ny.com. Open daily 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.