"We can have a cocktail bar and not have it be uptight," muses Michael Lombardozzi of his newly opened tiki spot Dromedary Bar on Bushwick's Irving Avenue. "Not that I'm saying all cocktail bars are uptight." Whether or not you agree with him, there's no mistaking the Hawaiian-shirt clad bar staff—who turn out festive drinks inside mugs shaped like marlins' heads—for their mustachioed, vest-wearing kin.
Lombardozzi's a 20-year industry vet who did a decade at One If By Land, Two If By Sea before a one-night training stint at Maison Premiere inspired him to open his own place. He's been working on the Bushwick space since July, transforming a once gaudy yet dim catering hall—there were mirrors along the walls but no windows—into the casually Hawaiian-inspired bar it is today. The self-taught mixologist created a collection of tiki-esque drinks, plus collaborated on a menu of pan-Asian eats with chef Brian Baskoff, who worked at St. Anselm in Williamsburg and consulted on the menu for Empire Biscuit.
In creating the bar program, Lombardozzi renounced the frozen sugar drinks commonly associated with appropriated tiki spots, instead wanting to see if there was a way to recreate them with more finesse. Ice is an important element in attaining the look he wants, as the crushed variety he uses "works like glass to show the colors inside." That's particularly evident in the Mt. Kilauea Colada ($11), which is supposed to depict a volcanic mountain rising out of the sea.
Salmon Poke Tacos (Scott Heins/Gothamist)
Visits to Hawaii got Lombardozzi thinking about how to incorporate the islands' beloved Spam, which is presented here as Spam Musubi Arancini ($6). The Korean Drumsticks (three for $8, five for $12)—double-fried chicken legs in an oyster sauce-base with Korean chili flakes—have been an early hit and also show up in the Pupu Platter ($22/$42) with Caribbean Ribs, Ginger Grapefruit Prawns and Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Wontons. There's also Hawaiian Mac Salad ($3/$6), naturally.
This Friday, to celebrate the opening, the bar's got a tattoo artist coming in around 6 p.m. to ink out free tattoos. Then there'll be regular burlesque and other live events, plus a Monday night "Dinner & A Movie" series that'll include drink and sandwich pairings. Brunch begins this weekend with a "Big Breakfast" of fried egg, sausage, spam, rice and mac salad.
266 Irving Avenue, Bushwick, (347) 715-4255; website