Hang out with your friends at new The Dram Shop

By Camille Sperrazza

Chalk up another successful enterprise for Wade Hagenbart. Wade introduced us to Sweet Melissa’s more than a decade ago. Then, about 9-10 years ago, he opened Angry Wade’s (222 Smith Street, corner of Smith and Butler, 718-488-7253). His newest venture is The Dram Shop, (339 Ninth Street, 718-788-1444), a cozy bar/restaurant that serves comfort food and craft beers on tap. He likes to describe it as “a nice big, communal space where you can hang out with your friends.” In fact, it’s set up so you can do just that. The roomy, booths seat about 10-12 people. The plates on the menu are party-portioned so there are enough munchies for every one to enjoy. The rib-stickin’ menu items are Texas-themed because Wade’s restaurant partner, Clay Mallow, is from Dallas, and Clay’s fiancé, also from the Lone Star State, is the chef. The comfort food includes hand cut French Fries, served with three different sauces — Chipotle mayo, garlic aioli (a mayo, mostly garlic blend), and a homemade Ranch. Favorites such as Wings and Half Moon Nachos are on the menu as well. But they cook up a couple of unique items, too, such as traditional Spanish/Mexican meatballs — Chipotle Albondigas. And for those who truly love to indulge, Fried Macaroni and Cheese. Here, the macaroni and cheese is cut into cubes, rolled in bread crumbs, and then deep fried, cooked to order. Wade notes that, “The food is exceptional. It’s always fresh, and we use a local butcher.” What goes better with a beer than a burger? “We’ve got the best burgers around,” says Wade, and they’re Texas-sized. Two three-ounce patties are layered one on top of the other. If having two is not enough for you, you can order a triple-sized burger. And just in case your appetite can’t handle this whopper, it is possible to request one patty on a bun. The meat is topped with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, diced onions, pickles, mayo, and mustard, or “it can be made your way,” Wade says. The Dram Shop has been open only a handful of weeks, so new items are still being added to the menu. Soon to come is a Chopped Salad, for those who may prefer a lighter dish. What’s served at the bar is also part of the attraction. There are a number of high- end bourbons, from Kentucky, and imported Scotches, from Scotland. “We have a very nice list,” says Wade. Also unique are their craft beers on tap. “There are 12 taps,” he says, “and nine or ten are from small American breweries.” A game area in the back offers darts and pool as well as a 16-foot Shuffleboard game that’s table-top. “It’s a great game,” says Wade, something different, and patrons enjoy it immensely. The Dram Shop’s décor is rich with deep colors and textures as well as wood and metal accents. “We used the same designer who did Sweet Melissa’s,” says Wade. The embossed wallpaper has been painted jet black, so “it looks like tin,” a very popular look in the Park Slope area. Still being worked on was the downstairs lounge where soft music, couches, and a faux fireplace are expected. A patio is in the back, ready for the when the weather is warmer. The Dram Shop is, “a great place to watch a game,” says Wade, both because of the television sets that abound as well as the atmosphere. So how was Wade able to bring us so many Park Slope establishments? He’s a Wisconsin native who lived in Chicago before moving to New York. Here only a short time, he met Melissa, who was working as a pastry chef in the city, he says. Wade was working in sales, but had spent some time as a bartender while he attended college. Soon they opened their first Sweet Melissa’s on Court Street. It was so successful, the expansion began. Although the couple is no longer together, they remain friendly. The Dram Shop — which is a legal term for a bar or tavern where alcoholic beverages are sold — is open Mondays through Fridays from 3 p.m. until 4 a.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon until 4 a.m. Happy Hour is from 3-6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and from 12-3 p.m. on weekends. That’s when you’ll enjoy half off draft beers, $2.50 pints of beer, and half off rail drinks. The latter costs $3, says Wade, “The best deal.”

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