Fort Defiance

Address: 365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, NY 11231, United States
Tel: +1 347 453 6672
Website: view Fort Defiance’s website
Door: Open door/walk-ins
Style: Café bar
Food: Set menu


Off the subway map, and either a bus ride or better still a cab fare away, Fort Defiance is a cute neighbourhood joint in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn. Its name references a nearby fort that overlooked New York harbour and thwarted the British fleet from entering the East River back in 1776.

Fairly non-descript from the outside, though with a new sign painted on the brick wall, Fort Defiance is a relaxed, all-day venue, welcoming to all. Its bijou size means there are just eight tables and a bar that seats a dozen (and that's a squeeze).

By day, this is a buzzing coffee joint cum diner, perfect for brunch or an American-style breakfast, with the bar staffed by skilled and exacting baristas, who, by their own words, are learning to make cocktails: by night they call themselves bartenders who are learning to make coffee.

The selection on the back-bar is not huge, but frankly there's not that much room above all that coffee paraphernalia, but the bar's alcoholic skill is happily in evidence with Aperol and Campari in the speed rail. There's a small selection of cocktails by day, and a different list by night, each with a little description of its provenance and references to other bartenders - Phil Ward's Oaxacan Old Fashioned is here, so there's a small collection of Del Maguey mezcal too. But they go enthusiastically 'off piste' too.