The intersection of Washington and Water streets in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass for the uninitiated) is considered one of New York’s most Instagrammable street corners. This is a pretty impressive feat considering how much New Yorkers love their street photography. Yet, despite its social presence, most visitors are just there to get the perfect frame of the Manhattan Bridge with some cool old buildings, rather than for the history of the location itself. The owners of Gair, an upscale neighborhood bar and restaurant that recently opened its doors on the corner, decided to put some hometown love into their venture.
Concept Creator and Designer Kevin Cimini chose the name Gair in honor of Robert Gair, the 1800s-era printer who invented the folding cardboard box and whose warehouse space occupied the very same corner. Doesn’t sound like the sexiest namesake for a glam new bar? Think again. Robert Gair’s invention became the backbone of the paper empire in America and put Dumbo on the map. It also made it possible for all of us to order delivery food while binge-watching Netflix. And what’s sexier than that?
The bar bills itself as having “the edge without the attitude,” and its Brutalist design speaks to that aspiration. From its concrete and basalt bar to leather and steel details, the vibe is upscale industrial–something that fits right in with the community that it sprang from. The idea of community is important for the Gair team. Whether customers pop in after snapping their all-important tourist pic, a long day of work in the area, or as their weekend neighborhood bar, Gair delivers on its primary mission–to serve elevated and crave-worthy food and drinks.
Nothing about Gair’s cocktails and small plates menu says cardboard cut-out. The inventive drinks menu was curated by Beverage Director Robert Struthers, formerly of Dutch Kills and Nitecap. While Gabe McMackin, former executive chef at Troutbeck in the Hudson Valley and the Finch in Brooklyn, heads up the food. Expect to see lots of local offerings used in unusual ways, as well as international influences.
“Thanks to our Director of Beverage, Rob Struthers, a dive into Gair’s backbar is certainly one of discovery,” says Kevin Cimini. “When developing our beverage program, he wanted to highlight lesser-known bottles for the public to experience something new without compromising on our high-quality standard. As an example, one of the four vodkas we carry is an African-based brand called Vusa. Only offered in a few bars across the country, it is distilled from sugar cane, making it a great option for those concerned about gluten.”
The bar also showcases local gins and beers, such as Pizza Rats Pilsner from Staten Island and Whale Watching DIPA from Queens, as well as an enviable selection of mezcal, rum, and brandy (including a stand-out mango brandy.) Rob and the team are happy to walk guests through the unique spirits Gair offers to find the perfect match.
During the summer, outside seating will be set up on a block-long stretch of Washington Street, which will be closed to traffic. Go for an Under the Influencer (Mezcal, passion fruit, cayenne, celery, lager) or a Phoney Negroni (if you’re looking for a zero-roof cocktail) and settle in for a night contemplating the American entrepreneurial spirit alongside some damn fine spirits.