Seemingly overnight, the stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Sterling Place in Prospect Heights has become one of the hottest nightlife crawls in the borough. Caught somewhere between a dignified night out on Smith Street and a debauched one on Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue, Vanderbilt boasts an impressive number of bars and eateries, but still has plenty of under-the-radar cool. A healthy portion of this newfound sheen is thanks to Weather Up, the three-month old cocktail lounge at 589 Vanderbilt Ave.
“My partner and I both live here — I live on St. Marks and he’s on Prospect — and we just love the neighborhood,” said owner Kathryn Weatherup. “We both knew what we wanted to do and the kind of bar we wanted to build. Matthew Maddy built and designed everything, and his ethos was that he wanted to make a place that was like a jewel box. That’s why we did a white tile ceiling and a brass bar. We’ve got real Venetian plastering on the walls.”
With no sign out front, only the slick, white tiling of the bar’s façade will let you know that you’re in the right place. Well, that and a crowd of smokers who look either effortlessly cool or completely bewildered by their surroundings. Weather Up doesn’t need to have the biggest awning on the block, though, because what’s behind the bar keeps patrons packed inside.
All of Weatherup’s staff has been trained by Sasha Petraske, the master mixologist behind Downtown Manhattan drinking institutions like Milk & Honey and East Side Company Bar. Preparing drinks like The Brooklyn — rye whiskey, maraschino liqueur and sweet vermouth — and the Honeysuckle — rum, lime and honey — all of which are served with metal straws and either freshly chipped or cylindrical barrels of ice, the bartenders here don’t need to sweat competition from the happy hour vodka-soda crowd.
“We wanted to keep it really simple,” said Weatherup. “We basically took one drink that we really liked from each different category of cocktails. The menu is expanding all the time. We just added milk and we’re adding egg whites in a couple of months.”
The quality of the cocktails hasn’t been lost on locals.
“The drinks are kind of expensive, but they’re really good. And I f—king love the cylindrical ice cubes,” said Prospect Heights resident Brian Shimkovitz. “So far I’ve been going to start my evening with one or two drinks and then meeting a larger group of people in a cheaper, more raucous place. Prospect Heights is really becoming a cool area, and this is a great addition.”
But Weatherup isn’t stopping at cocktails. Perhaps as early as next month, she will be making some big changes to the bar.
“We are hoping to open a patio in the future,” she said. She also divulged that the bar will serve snacks, but again, not until the timing is right.
“We’re not doing that until the back garden’s open,” she said. “We want to do it as soon as possible, but we want to do it properly.”
And that sounds like a pretty great forecast to us.
Weather Up (589 Vanderbilt Ave. at Dean Street in Prospect Heights) accepts cash only. The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 pm to 3 am. Closed Mondays. The bar does not have a phone number or Web site.