Tørst Bar, Brookyln
There haven’t been many bar openings recently that have rivalled the hype surrounding Tørst, New York based gypsy brewer Evil Twin’s first venture into bricks and mortar. With 21 taps of the good stuff flowing freely, and a high end restaurant run by ex Noma and Fat Duck chef Daniel Burns in the back, it was apparent from the start that Tørst was never meant to be just a bar. It was meant to be a kickass destination of delicious joy. In early October I headed to New York for a visit, to see if it lived up to all the expectations.
Having recently gained the status of “Best Bar in New York” on Ratebeer, we intentionally visited on a Sunday, just so we didn’t have to elbow our way to the bar. This slightly backfired as it was also the night of the finale of Breaking Bad, which left most hipster joints around town practically empty by 9pm. Thankfully there was still a bit of atmosphere when we arrived. We found some space at the end of the bar and settled in.
The bartender swiftly handed us a menu (both draught and bottle) and poured us water as we decided on our first drinks. The service felt more akin to a good restaurant than a neighbourhood bar. I’m sure this was completely intentional. The bartenders were relaxed, knowledgeable and happy to give recommendations. Even when I asked the slightly tenuous question of ‘what’s special?’, they listed both the rarities and their personal favourites. Both bartenders were drinking throughout the night, keeping on top of the changing offering and up with the customers, enjoying themselves in the process.
The keg taps span the length bar, with the beer names scrawled on a bulb-lit mirror. The breweries featured were a heady mix of European and American, coming as no surprise with Jeppe (Mr Evil Twin) having his fingers in pies on both sides of the Atlantic. In the middle of it all is the flux capacitor (insert Back To The Future joke here) keg system with red gauges and whirly knobs keeping each beer at its perfect serving temperature.
We first settled for a fantastic BIPA ‘Dark Hops’ from Danish Brewery ‘Beer Here’ and the oddly named Lambickx from Vanberg & DeWulf, ordering one of the bar’s cheeseboards to keep us company as well. It was a welcome choice to have the option of smaller 5oz servings of beers so we could fit in a good few different ones throughout the evening. The prices are steep compared to other bars in the area, practically paying pint prices for small glasses, but this isn’t a bar in which you should worry too much about your wallet. Better to start a tab and just enjoy yourself. Who needs money anyway?
The cheeseboard was exceptional, with a nod to Jeppe’s homeland in the shape of some warm Danish rye bread sprinkled with sea salt – The perfect vessel for tasty cheese. The next beer I settled for was a ‘Local Option Barrel Aged Kentucky Common’, a recommendation from one of the bartenders. It was a heady combination of barrel-funk and stouty goodness in a glass. A great introduction to a new brewery, and one I will look out for in the future.
We hit a few more from the keg line, such as Dark Horse’s Crooked Tree IPA and Evil Twin’s Lil’ B, a rich and dark fruit tinged American porter. I was surprised that there were only two kegs from the man himself, but there were a hell of a lot of bottles of his concoctions to choose from if you were up for paying a bit more.
We finished by picking something from the extensive bottle list, as it would have been rude to come all this way and not to. After another recommendation from the bartender, we popped open a bottle of Birra Del Borgo’s Duchessic Ale, a spelt beer cut with 20% Cantillion lambic. Intensely carbonated, the beer tingled in the mouth as the tartness kicked in. The night started to turn a little strange as the crowd thinned out and the bartenders put on some of the darker hits of Nick Cave. The relaxed Sunday suddenly became a little more ominous. I would have liked to stay and drink more, maybe going for the Bruery’s 15% ‘Bois’ on tap, or one of Evil Twin’s epic Imperial stouts, but the vibe had gone and it was best to leave before the going would get too awkward.
Thankfully, even on a quiet and slightly strange night it was obvious why Tørst has already received so much praise. The bar is serving some of the best beers in the world, and giving all of them the respect they deserve. If I were a brewer I’d aim to do exactly what Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø has done. Forget all the big brewery rooms of steel tanks, and make my place of work one of the best bars in New York.
Photos by Whatkatiedoes