Diamond Lil, a new grown-up cocktail bar from the owner of Broken Land, opened in Greenpoint this week... and she's a real beaut.
Tim Murray and his new business partner Jon Wright built the bar from the ground up, including the tin ceiling, the mosaic floor and the embossed wallpaper, which Murray painted himself. If you're curious about what "from the ground up" really looks like, direct your attention here (Murray says they had to completely dig out the basement, too). Their efforts yielded a gorgeous place to sip a cocktail: an Art Nouveau-inspired template rooted in earthy tones and accents like the green walls and banquettes and the yellow-tinged ceiling.
Look for the debut of a lush back garden sometime soon.
Murray and Wright commissioned artist Jenna Gribbon to create the custom painting that hangs behind the bar. "Jenna takes these 'male gaze' classic cliches—in our case it was an Ophelia—and rather than have it be a helpless woman in a field with mental illness romantically portrayed by a man, she did her thing where she updated it and it's a woman who doesn't really care," Murray says. "The actual title of the painting is 'Got No Time To Be Your Muse,' because typically when you see a woman lying in a field she's a muse and the man is like, 'Oh, look at this weak-willed woman' or whatever the cliches were for that type of subject."
Though she's not represented in paint anywhere in the bar, there's another woman whose spirit looms large: Mae West. In 1928, West debuted her play called Diamond Lil, a titillating show for the time that was a big success for the performer and playwright. That West also lived in Greenpoint as a child—coupled with the bar's proximity to Diamond Street—sealed the deal for the bar's name.
Down to the drinking. Nathan Venard designed the cocktails ($12), with offerings that sound delicate and fancy—the Aviation-adjacent Water Lily with gin, cointreau, lemon and creme de violette comes to mind—and others that sound primed to party like the Frozen Coffee Colada with Trinidadian and Jamaican rums, coconut and cold brew coffee.
"Our idea is to make the drinks really interesting and surprising. But also tone it down, too," Murray promises. "We're not trying to be a mixology spot and pretentious. We're a neighborhood bar and that's the first thing we want to be."
Diamond Lil's sister bar does a great bloody mary/mini beer combo and Murray says there are plans to debut a bloody here, too. "We're going to fresh squeeze our tomato juice. I don't know if you've ever had freshly-squeezed tomato juice in a bloody mary, but it makes such a huge difference, it's amazing."
Besides cocktails they have six draft beers—including a watermelon ale—and draft rosé. Happy Hour, which runs Monday - Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. includes $5 'Gansetts and Draft Rosé, plus $8 Daiquiris, Old Fashioneds, Moscow Mules, and Frozen Coffee Colada's.
179 Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint; diamondlilbar.com. Diamond Lil is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.