Were you to conduct the most rudimentary Google search (localized to New York City) for the terms “best first date place” “most romantic bar” or “Valentine’s Day Ideas”, Boudoir Bar (Le Boudoir) would no doubt top your results. If, however, these are the only reasons this Brooklyn speakeasy receives your patronage, you have entirely missed the point.
A seasoned industry professional with the likes of Clover Club and Dead Rabbit on her impressive resume, Marshall will bristle ever so slightly if you refer to Le Boudoir as “themed.” The decor is lavish: designed to evoke the opulence of Marie Antoinette at Versailles (although the rumors that it is designed to evoke Marie Antoinnette’s bedroom itself are false). The cocktail menu is decadent: sumptuous cocktails like the Dauphin (absinthe, chile liqueur, almond milk, coconut, cacao nibs) and the Epice (cantaloupe, jalapeño, green Chartreuse, fresh lime, celery bitters) are as extravagantly presented as they are layered with lush flavors. Light food bites like crispy frog legs (in spicy honey sauce), foie gras torchon (with red wine apple compote), and of course, an assortment of charcuterie, fromage, and croquettes, are equally luxe, as are the dessert choices: creme brûlée, chocolate mousse, and vanilla genoise cake.
A visit to Boudoir will obviously find couples canoodling in gold-trimmed, red tufted velvet banquettes. But whether you order exquisitely prepared cocktails (Marshall is also an experienced Cognac educator) served in ornate bar ware or a beer, you will also receive the same kind of knowledgeable pampering only a true veteran drink-slinger can provide. “I was bartending long before the cocktail craze became a thing,” says Marshall. “I’ve worked the high-volume sports bars, dive bars, clubs, hotels: it’s really good training for dealing with people. The value of this kind of experience is lost on newer bartenders who only know craft cocktails.”
What makes any bar great isn’t why you go–it’s why you go back. Boudoir happens to be a fantastic first-date/romantic evening/Valentine’s Day treat (although if you haven’t made your V-Day reservations by now, you’re probably out of luck). But why wait? With a gorgeous backroom that seats 15 (and stands more), it’s also an ideal place to host small parties. It’s the kind of place where, were he alive, you would not be surprised to find F. Scott Fitzgerald imbibing after hours, nestled betwixt the nooks and crannies, deep in palaver, imbibing gratuitously. It also happens to be a part of NYC history – having once been part of the Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel.