Fulfilling Dumbo’s need for an upscale, community-centric bar, Gair has officially opened its doors, inviting residents, the local workforce and out-of-town visitors in for elevated drinks and bites. With a modern, industrial design and playful use of concrete that pay homage to the neighborhood’s history, a drink selection that celebrates local offerings and an atmosphere that has the edge without the attitude, Gair is Dumbo’s neighborhood bar and restaurant.
The intersection of Washington and Water Streets offers iconic views of the Manhattan Bridge, affectionately dubbed “The Cobblestoned Runway.” Gair promises to be a community hub for the three distinct waves of visitors each day – the tourists who make pilgrimages to snap a pic, the design and tech professionals who work here day-to-day and the residents who crave a welcoming local option for drinks, dinner and late night.
A drinks program curated by Beverage Director Robert Struthers and General Manager Megan Casale, formerly of NYC bars Dutch Kills, Fresh Kills and Nitecap; Lavender Lake, Dirty Precious, and Claudette respectively, showcases creatively designed cocktails (including low- and no-ABV options), select wines, and local beer. The cocktail menu, which rotates based on the seasons, is organized by weight; guests can find the lightest creations up top and take a tour of more spirit-forward offerings further down the list. Spirits novices and aficionados alike will appreciate Gair’s diverse backbar, showcasing lesser-known high-quality spirits brands, including African-based vodka, Vusa, and Rhine Hall’s mango brandy. The wine selection showcases natural and organic wines from unusual wine-producing regions, such as Bosnia, South Africa, and Hungary, while also highlighting women-owned and family-owned brands, like the Anna Espelt Grenache Blanc; and the beer menu supports local breweries with all options hailing from New York, including Pizza Rats Pilsner from Staten Island and Whale Watching DIPA from Queens.
“We want our community of local makers to feel seen, and so we carry the best New York has to offer,” says Struthers. “A primary goal of our beverage program is supporting exceptional spirits that people may not recognize right away, providing the opportunity for our guests to explore different flavors from our own backyard and around the world.”
On that front, a menu of small plates, led by Gabe McMackin, formerly the executive chef at Troutbeck in the Hudson Valley and the Finch in Brooklyn, also puts a focus on ingredients from the surrounding region. Expect a rotating selection that pairs well with cocktails. You can chase that Resting Spritz Face (Gin, Suze, grapefruit, pink peppercorn) with charcuterie, cheeses and oysters, or pair your Old Man and The Sea (Japanese whiskey, soy, nori – kind of like a Sazerac that took a trip to Japan) with a few heartier offerings like a smash burger or lamb chops.
“I’ve been drawn to these blocks for years, Dumbo is such a unique part of NYC, and there was a real need for an elevated cocktail experience,” says Concept Creator and Designer Kevin Cimini, who has lived and worked in this neighborhood for 15 years. “Gair is a beautiful space where people can gather and enjoy a good drink, and we are excited to serve all sides of this community.”
Gair promises to become Dumbo’s mainstay. In fact, it takes its name and design inspiration from the neighborhood’s storied history. The cocktail bar is named after Robert Gair, the American printer who invented the pre-cut cardboard box. Gair originally built the warehouse space in the late 1800s, naming it Gair 1, which was famous for being the tallest reinforced concrete building in the country when it was constructed. Gair 1 became the cornerstone of a paper empire and sparked the boom that turned Dumbo into the creative hub that it is known as today.
A large, horseshoe-shaped bar sits at the center of the space; the fluted concrete structure was cast in place, a process that took 12 weeks. The Brazilian basalt bartop and a white oak back bar sit underneath a sculpted plaster “cloud” that mirrors the bar below. Other exposed raw materials used throughout the space, including cast ceramic, natural leather, blackened steel, handmade Moroccan tiles and tadelakt, are softened with warm tones, wide curves and thick bullnose edges that complement this industrial yet design-driven neighborhood.
“I’d describe the design as warm brutalism,” says Cimini. “Once we light candles and let the music flow over Gair’s seventeen speakers, couples start to cozy up along the banquette, or lean in and people-watch from the window. It’s an intimate, casual, creative vibe that feels right at home in Dumbo.“
During the warm months, visitors can expect outdoor seating immediately in front of the bar, where a block-long stretch of Washington Street is going to be permanently closed off to traffic starting this summer. A perfect location to take in the sights and enjoy a few alfresco cocktails, the people-watching is a year-round affair. The patch of land provides a set for fashion shoots, wedding photography, art installations, live music, and much more; a sea of life is always churning outside these windows.
“I love that Gair gets to be a hub for this community,” says Cimini, ”and every day, we can see countless passersby bask in this view and treat these iconic cobblestones as a backdrop to their own life story.”
Located at 41 Washington Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Gair is now open for drinks Tuesday and Wednesday from 4pm to 12am, Thursday from 4pm to 2am, Friday and Saturday from 2pm to 2am, and Sunday from 2pm to 10pm. For more information, visit gair-dumbo.com and follow @gair_dumbo on Instagram.