Before you head off to The Cynical Schnauzer in Clinton Hill, there are two things you ought to know. The first is that a schnauzer is a type of working dog, often used as a guard or watch dog. The second is that a schnauzer is German. And if you need me to bring this full circle for you, owner Przemek Adolf named this farm-to-table restaurant & bar after his black Standard schnauzer named Jinkx, who is quite cynical indeed.
To be honest, I didn’t know so much inspiration could be culled from a misanthropic and mustachioed utility dog, and I credit Przemek for his execution. The dining room, intimate and comfortable (only thirty-two seats across seven tables), is “a modern interpretation of Weimar era Berlin”, which is to say (for those of us who can’t quite remember the interwar period in Germany) a flourishing of artistry, intellectualism, and politics. Here at the Cynical Schnauzer, you may find yourself halfway through your second bottle of Austrian wine, discussing anything from the idea Lebensreform to Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha to the relative merits of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo (let’s not forget: this is 2016, after all).
The cocktail menu, as curated by Caitlin Cooper, is as carefully crafted and as intricately designed as a German luxury sedan. That German theme is as present on this list as anywhere else in the restaurant; every cocktail bears the name of a famous German. Some are recognizable (the Jung) and some not so much (the Klimt). Some are famous for one reason (the Heidi) and some are famous for an entirely different reason (the Nietzsche). And some are famous only within the walls of the place inspired by a certain aforementioned schnauzer.
A German myself, I was proud to be in the company of some of the greatest sons and daughters of the Fatherland. The Dietrich is a beautiful and serene drink made of gin, colored with crème de violette, and topped with a violet flower, silently floating around the wide and shallow glass that’s more like a bowl. I’ve never had a gin drink that was so fruitful and flowery. Leave it to the Germans to take the sharp British edge, and make it useful.
Next came a pair of whiskey-based German intellectuals. First the Nietzsche, the kirsch- and aperol-filled bourbon drink served neat in a cocktail glass, then the Hesse, which featured that distinctive anise flavor over Rittenhouse rye in a small little glass with a square base. I’m not sure why that square base intrigued me so much, it just seemed unique and correct in a restaurant filled with other unique and correct things, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s collection of drinking stories On Booze, the cut glassware serving cocktails like the Jung with its tarragon oil polka dots, or the newly hung picture of Jinkx, which might be better than the actual cynical dog himself, as photographs don’t bark.
I dare you to leave The Cynical Schnauzer without first trying perhaps the crown jewel of the cocktail menu, a radiant and shining prosecco drink called the Klimt. At worst, you’ll literally be able to eat gold (specifically the gold leaf topping the strawberry sorbet floating amongst the St. Germain and prosecco) At medium, you’ll learn about Gustav Klimt, the Austrian painter famous for his use of gold leaf (see The Kiss). And, at best, you’ll top your visit to this restaurant with something as delicious as the cocktails, wine and food you’ve already had, and with something bright, sweet and charming to send you on your way.
As per Przemek Adolf, the cynical schnauzer (Jinkx, that is) really doesn’t like strangers, but will warm to anybody who stays a while. The Cynical Schnauzer (the restaurant, now) can do the same to you. It’s well balanced and thoughtful cocktail menu, it’s brilliant and delicious food menu (thanks to executive chef Gus Ulrich) and all the unique and correct items in this modern view of a unique and correct era, will warm the heart of the most cynical visitors. And even they might find themselves delightfully engaged in a conversation about art and music, politics and philosophy, lifestyle and The Life of Pablo (it’s 2016, remember?).
Cynical Schnauzer Details884 Fulton,
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Map it: Google Map It!