Last week we headed over to Brooklyn to sit down with Andy Heidel, owner of the Way Station bar in Prospect Heights. It is a truly unique place: a very popular night spot, and a great Brockmans account. We began by asking him about the choice of name for the bar.
On the old rail networks a Way Station was a signal halt between principal stations, where passengers could alight by request or steam engines could take on water for the boiler; and the bar is similarly located between several stations on the A, C, 2, 3, 4, B, Q and S lines. Instead of pausing for water though, patrons can stop off for drinks, good company and great entertainment. The “Way Station” is also a short story by Steven King set in a fantasy, alternative world – and this genre would also be very descriptive of the bar’s clientele and décor.
Andy describes the Way Station as a “nerd bar and music venue, with a sci-fi twist” and there is no doubting this theme when you see the bathroom is a replica of Dr Who’s famous Tardis. Exact in detail, the ‘Tardis’ is a magnet and a talking point for regulars and visitors alike. The cocktails too have a twist to them – with their Whovian range based on the Dr Who series, and others with a definite nod to fantasy and sci-fi. The newest Brockmans cocktail on the list is the ‘Gimli’ – named in honour of the Dwarf warrior in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; and is a take on a traditional gimlet. Innovation and style are the hallmarks of the Way Station’s drinks list and means that it caters to wider customer base than you’d expect, for the bar combines its unique character with that of friendly neighbourhood pub. The music is quite the draw too.
The bar has a fantastic music bill every month showcasing local and well known talent alike with three or four bands playing nightly Tuesday through Saturday. There is an eclectic choice of bands to keep everyone happy from Americana to jazz and blues. Sunday afternoon and Monday evening is movie time, where you can watch some classics and on Sunday night you can bring your own skills with karaoke.
Opened four years ago this February, the Way Station is principally a brown-spirits bar, but they do carry about seven gin brands; with Recipe 21 Gin in the well. Brockmans has featured on the menu since we launched in New York, and the ‘Kent Brockmans’ – a martini with a twist named in honour of the famous anchor in the Simpsons – was well received by the staff and customers alike and we’ve done a number of tastings here to help promote the drink. We’ve got high hopes for the summer, and think that the new cocktail, the Gimli will be equally, if not more, successful.
We asked Andy if he saw any trends in the spirits industry over the last few months worth sharing; and like many places across the city the Classic Cocktails are having a remarkable re-birth; with Old Fashioned’s ruling the roost through the winter months. So, here’s hoping that classic gin cocktails will stake their claim to the summer of 2015.
Lastly, we finished off by talking about funny and strange things heard at the bar. One of the bands playing – Moondrunk were doing an ad-lib set based on audience suggestions. Someone asked for ‘Tex Mex’, but the band heard ‘Sex Text’. The band took it all in their stride and did a song about ‘Tex Mex Sex Text’.
Prospect Heights isn’t on everyone’s path, but for visitors and locals alike – take the opportunity to pull up at the halt, cool the engines, let time slow down and enjoy good times and better drinks at the one and only Way Station. Oh, and did we mention, the bathroom is a Tardis!