New bar names itself after putrid waterway

New bar names itself after putrid waterway
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Drinking from the Gowanus Canal is a Brooklynite’s worst nightmare, but that hasn’t stopped the fetid waterway from inspiring a new Carroll Street watering hole and other trendy hangouts.

The new bar Lavender Lake touts the Gowanus Canal in its name — following the lead of several other Canal-side businesses that have started re-branding the egregious environmental hazard in a bid for cred and customers.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the neighborhood but also have an inviting name,” said co-owner Eric Chavez, who turned an old horse stable into the neighborhood’s newest bar. “Lavender Lake carries such a negative connotation, but if you didn’t know any better, it sounds like a great place.”

The Gowanus Canal’s nickname became part of the Brooklyn lexicon after a 1998 documentary of the same name detailed the waterway’s polluted conditions. The viaduct’s reputation has only gotten worse following reports that it has gonorrhea, is flooded with hundreds of gallons of raw sewage per year, and qualifies for a costly federal cleanup reserved for the nation’s biggest environmental mishaps.

That doesn’t sound appetizing — but entrepreneurs say there’s something cool about the putrid creek.

Bar owners and restaurateurs have dubbed their business ventures after the canal, from the Gowanus Yacht Club to the Canal Bar.

The crew behind the buzz-worthy restaurant Buttermilk Channel — named after the tidal strait beside the putrid waterway’s mouth — say their eatery’s name sounds clean for being so close to the canal.

“I looked around for something in the area that would tie my restaurant to the history of the neighborhood,” said Buttermilk Channel owner Doug Crowell.

“I still consider it a great stroke of luck that we happen to be located near such a delicious sounding body of water.”

And it’s not just the signs outside — drinkers often find Gowanus-inspired concoctions on cocktail lists.

The Lavender Lake — owned by a group of interior design experts who otherwise have no experience in the bar business — serves up a “Lavender Lake iced tea,” which is tastier than it sounds.

The Canal-inspired drink is a mix of lavender vodka, simple syrup, Earl Grey iced tea, and lemon with no traces of toxic sludge to be found — the only danger is in ordering a few too many.

Lavender Lake [383 Carroll St. at Bond Street, (383) 799–2154]. Mon.–Fri, 4 pm–2 am; Sat., Sun., 12 pm–2 am.

Canal food: Lavender Lake’s Walker McBain serves up house chips and heirloom tomatoes with feta on a baguette at the new Gowanus bar.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham