Would you drink these libations inspired by the Gowanus Canal?

Would you drink these libations inspired by the Gowanus Canal?
Photo by Ben Muessig

Naming your establishment after a local landmark is one thing, but taking the more than undrinkable Gowanus Canal as the impetus for a beverage — and serving it up to patrons — is walking a line between the playfully ironic, and plainly daring.

Here are three drinks named after the beloved biohazard that we tried and survived to write about.

The Gowanus

A dip in the Gowanus Canal is more risky than it is restorative, but splashing around in a refreshing cocktail of the same name is a safer proposition. Made with grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, seltzer, lime, simple syrup, and some fresh basil flotsam, Bar Tano’s creation is a slightly bitter summer drink that reminded our intrepid reporter of a not-so-sweet mojito or a spiked lime-ade. Fishing out all of that basil using a cocktail straw is a tall task — you might even start empathizing with the feds tasked with scrubbing the waterway while you’re trying to clean out your glass.

Bar Tano [457 Third Ave. at Ninth Street, (718) 499–3400, bartano.com]. $10.

Gowanus Houseboat Swizzle

This sludge inspired concoction actually looks like a refreshing glass of canal water, but don’t worry — it’s a layer of red bitters, and not a toxic chemical, that sits atop the progressively color shifting liquid, going from orange to yellow to a slight green — a blend of Cachaca, lime, orange juice, and Galliano. It’s cold enough to form frost on the glass, and it starts off strong, tasting of ginger and ends bitter and dry, thanks to the sour.

Clover Club [210 Smith St., between Baltic and Butler streets, (718) 855–7939]. $12.

St. Gowanus Beer

This Belgian pale ale from the local brewers at Kelso is a muddy orange, with an insubstantial head, and tastes surprisingly light — since its name might insinuate a patron saint of pollution. There’s a hint of spice and fruitiness, but the beer feels a bit thin, lacking the punch one might expect from a drink named after a toxic waste dump.

Water Street Restaurant & Lounge [68 Water St. between Main and Dock streets, (718) 625–9352]. $6.

The Gowanus Houseboat Swizzle is on the brunch menu at Clover Club.
Photo by Sol Park