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New bar names itself after putrid waterway

for The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

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Reader Feedback

Thomas from Carroll Gardens says:
This is a really strange piece. Alfred Ng doesn't really tell us much about the place; what the food and drink menus are like, and what the space is like. Isn't that what matters?

I've been there a number of times already, and it rocks. The food is great, the cocktails are delicious and creative, the beer selection is thoughtful and refreshing, and they also have a cool selection of wines.

The room and large backyard are both beautiful. There was clearly a lot of care put into making a comfortable and sexy space, without pretension or cliche. I read in the New York Times that the owners basically built the place out themselves often with repurposed materials from their set design work. When you're there the place feels totally cohesive and harmonious, and not "DIY" at all. These guys are pros.

The management and staff they put together couldn't be better. Knowledgeable, friendly and excited, I've been well taken care of by them all.

Did I mention the huge back yard? I'd recommend getting down there and chilling in an Adirondack chair, and enjoy a completely original place.
July 12, 2012, 10:06 am
Dave from Brooklyn Heights says:
Thomas from Carroll Gardens - shameless shilling at it's finest.
July 12, 2012, 10:15 am
Thomas from Carroll Gardens says:
@Dave from Brooklyn Heights:

I work in the restaurant business, and no, I'm not ashamed of it. I do not work for Lavender Lake. I just appreciate neighborhoods supporting nice places. I thought I'd provide some balance to the "putrid" language being thrown around in the article.

And, I'm sorry, do you have some criticism or news on the topic you wanted to share, or are you just the comments police?

Love,
Neighbor-not-a-Yelper
July 12, 2012, 11:27 am
Dave from Brooklyn Heights says:
@Thomas

Sorry. I'm not buying it. Your post reads like a press handout from Lavender Lake's PR firm. Do you know how I figured it out?

It's wildly over-the-top positive. You praise everything about the place in a way that a disinterested customer would never do. That makes no sense unless you work for them or have a personal relationship with the owners.

If you're going to shill, try for a little subtlety. It will make it far more convincing.

Hey - you'll like this. Eater runs a regular feature called Adventures in Shilling. I'm going to cut and paste your post and sent it to them. If they publish it it will put you in solid with your boss.
July 12, 2012, 11:49 am
Thomas from Carroll Gardens says:
@Dave

Dude, have you even been there?

And I told you I was interested. Critics and reporters are supposed to be disinterested. I'm neither of those things. Thanks for taking an interest though. Maybe we'll have a beer together some day and we can remain very objective while having that beer. A very serious beer.
July 13, 2012, 7:40 am

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