"I'm waiting for someone from my block to walk in and see their lamp," chuckles Rina Haverly as she describes the intentionally eclectic living room kitsch of her new bar Bad Old Days, which she opened with business partner Sonja Lutnicki three weeks ago in Ridgewood, Queens. To create the homey feel to their new place, the duo wrangled couches, furniture and knick knacks from a vintage market, online outlets and, yes, the remnants of stoop sales. That vaguely sinister white mannequin in the corner? Snatched from a shuttered clothing store and carried through the subway system.
Some obscure board games (Masterpiece, Scotland Yard) are from personal collections, as are some of the bar's many books, which've become the base of a kind of impromptu lending library among regulars who get engrossed over a pint. If the books are flying off the shelves—and out the door—at least they're asking beforehand. "Everyone's been courteous," Haverly says. "They feel like they're at grandma's house."
My grandma didn't serve potent punches and chickpea sliders, as they do here. The former is a seasonal offering served out of an elegant apothecary punch urn with a spigot. The combination of brandy, rum, Cointreau and a lemon oleo saccharum—a citrusy sweetener—is a lovely one, balanced and not overly sweet. The piney and effervescent Winter Vixen ($11) combines the flavors of the season—rosemary and cranberry—in one glass.
They designated themselves a dive bar on Facebook, but the dives I frequent don't typically have repurposed TVs-turned-faux fish tanks. But they're keeping in that spirit with a $6 shot-and-beer special and insist that this isn't supposed to be a snooty cocktail lounge. They're even encouraging people to bring their laptops and transition from daytime coffees to evening beers.
The food program is still in a soft open mode, but what they're offering currently definitely stands on its own. The aforementioned Chickpea Sliders ($7) have a spicy falafel-like flavor, with some great crunch from a sriracha coleslaw, and the Meatball Sliders ($8) are bacon-wrapped, naturally, and have that familiar comfort food flavor. The house-made Chex Mix ($3) is of particular pride to Haverly, who championed for the snack over popcorn or pretzels. "It's all I want when I'm drunk at the drug store."
1684 Woodbine Street, Ridgewood, 347-696-0612