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Then and Now Thursday: Memorial Presbyterian, 1907

When memorial Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Seventh Avenue and St. John's Place, was dedicated on February 18th, 1883, Park Slope was beginning to come into its own as one of Brooklyn's premier enclaves for the wealthy. By the time the above photo was taken, in 1907, most of the brownstones and other structures in the neighborhood had already been built, and many of those remain to this day. 

The 117-foot steeple of the church still looms over the avenue today, although it's obscured by trees. Constructed of Belleville brownstone with a roof of blue slate, the church, with its circular pews and seating for about 800 people, hasn't changed at all since its construction. The same can't be said for the townhouses to its south. While Seventh between Flatbush and St. Johns is almost entirely residential, it becomes a primarily commercial thoroughfare from here on down, starting with Mango Remixed Thai and Chiles & Chocolate next door. These buildings, like many others on Seventh, were renovated for commercial use by the 1920s.

Top photo: NYPL


Cell Phone Store Replacing Clear Wifi on Fifth

It appears as if one (boring) store will be replacing another on Fifth Avenue between St Marks and Warren. A Boost/Virgin Mobile store is in the process of moving into the space that was home to Clear Internet until last week, and rock shop Stoned before that. 

Guess not every empty space can get a dumpling shop or cool bar!


79-81 Seventh Coming Along

What a difference a month makes! The interior of 79-81 Seventh Avenue, soon to be home to an Unleashed by Petco, is really starting to shape up. The walls, ceiling, and lights are all in place. 

The facade has been covered in plastic sheeting (most likely related to this week's endless rains), but that's almost complete as well.


Know Your Bartender: Brett Mallare, Alchemy

When you think about gastropubs in Park Slope, Alchemy will most likely be one of the first places that come to mind. Owner Kevin Read, a former bartender at Lucky Strike, opened it up in February 2007 after spending some time exploring the gastropubs of London, and has assembled a winning combination of quality cocktails and local beer with top notch comfort food, like burgers, steaks, and fish and chips, along with some more upscale offerings like wild mushroom barley risotto and duck confit. It's also a great brunch option, and is open for breakfast every day.

Read has designed a simple space, with a 100-year old bar taken from a speakeasy in Queens, a few comfortable booths, and a couple communal tables. Brett Mallare, a Boston transplant who moved here in 2005, can be found behind the bar on Mondays and Tuesdays.

HPS: How long have you been working here for?

Brett: I've been here since it opened. 

HPS: What's your favorite thing about the bar here?

Brett: It's a real neighborhood bar, and the people that come in here are amazing. It's a nice group of locals. The staff here are all good friend of mine, there's a nice sense of this local community. Everyone in this area really knows each other pretty well.

HPS: Can you talk a little about the Happy Hour?

Brett: Yep, it's from 4:30-6:30 Monday-Friday. All the local beers, all well drinks, and all wine is four dollars. We have a Happy Hour menu as well.

HPS: Have you ever received any really strange drink orders here?

Brett: Yeah, a table two months ago asked for a round of Slippery Nipple shots. I've been bartending in New York since 2006, and people in Manhattan generally ask for vodka red bulls, Jager shots, that kind of thing, but in Brooklyn most people want a nice cocktail or a beer. 

HPS: What are your most popular drinks here?

Brett: We have an extensive cocktail list, so we definitely make a lot of cocktails, and people drink a lot of local beer, a lot of nice bourbon. We go through the most of the Sixpoint IPA, that's probably our most popular beer. We go through a lot of Jameson and Maker's Mark here too. 

As far as cocktails go, we make a ton of Bloody Marys on the weekend, but that's standard when you serve brunch. Off the cocktail list, the one that tends to get ordered a lot here is the Slippery Slope, and that's basically like a whiskey sour with mint.

HPS: If you could have a drink with one person from history, who would it be?

Brett: Wow, I don't know if I've ever thought about that. I guess I wouldn't mind having a drink with Marvin Gaye in his prime. Seems like he'd be a fun guy to hang out with, he's my favorite singer. He'd probably try to get me to do cocaine, though.

HPS: Probably! Are there any cocktails that you make that you really pride yourself on?

Brett: I make a really good gin fizz, that's one that I really like. That and a Manhattan. 

HPS: Are there any bottles back there that you've never touched?

Brett: The Drambuie is used pretty rarely, people only order a rusty nail like once or twice a year. The Creme de Cacao, I don't ever really use that either.

HPS: If you weren't tending bar, what other professions would you choose?

Brett: Well I'm a musician on the side, I play guitar, synthesizer, drum machine, kind of all over the place. If I could I'd be doing that full time. Stuff music-related.

Alchemy, 56 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-636-4385.


Couleur Cafe to Open Tuesday

Couleur Cafe, the new French cafe coming to 435 Seventh Avenue (between 14th and 15th Streets) is looking good, and just about ready to open. Signage went up over the weekend (along with a coat of turquoise paint), and owner Murat Ozcan tells me that it's all systems go to open up on Tuesday. 

Ozcan hopes that the cafe, which will be run with partner Francois Ronget, will become a cultural gathering place for the community, a place where regulars can come to read the paper, have a pastry, and discuss events of the day with Ozcan and fellow patrons.

Coffee will be a custom blend designed by Ronget in collaboration with Brooklyn Roasting, and it will be cold-pressed, which "keeps all the nutrients in," according to Ozcan.