Tom Warner has opened The Brooklyn Social in his native Derby, inspired by US dive bars and east London
After travelling in the US to cities such as Chicago and New York, Tom Warner wanted to bring some of the country’s laid-back dive bar culture home to Derby. Also inspired by the eclectic style of bars in east London and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, he has launched The Brooklyn Social in a Grade II-listed building in Sadler Gate in the city’s Cathedral Quarter. Working with Midlands-based designer Chris Guest, he has converted the former premises of restaurant Mexico into a venue specialising in burgers and cocktails over three floors.
The ground floor has an industrial look with exposed brickwork, polished concrete and steel alongside kitsch elements which, according to Chris, combine to “make it look like it’s been there for years and years”. On the first floor, the design takes inspiration from the 1970s, with vintage details such as stuffed animals as well as modern elements such as neon. The vintage feel continues on the top floor with Victorian-style light fittings and pictures and mirrors in gilded frames, with a red colour palette that gives it a “regal” feel.
Tom (pictured below), aged 27, adds: “We have restored a host of the building’s original features and mixed them with neon-lit street art, antiques, vintage furniture and a photobooth. The three floors all have quite a different feel with a more laid-back vibe as you climb the stairs.”
Despite the name and inspiration, The Brooklyn Social is not American themed, although the walls feature fragments of artwork by Brooklyn-based collective Faile that has been given a distressed look through plastering. The American dive bar influence comes through in the relaxed atmosphere and the menu of burgers, made with locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.
Alongside a good selection of beers, there is a list of original cocktails and twisted classics such as a Daiquiri, Manhattan, Grasshopper, Bramble and Paloma. A signature drink is the Derby Julep made with Monkey Shoulder whisky infused with Earl Grey tea, muddled with peach and mint. The Stewed, Screwed and Tattooed is inspired by a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, combining Sailor Jerry spiced rum with ginger beer, hints of honey and Tabasco.
The Brooklyn Social is open seven days a week from midday till late, and from 11am on Sundays. “I hope people will enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in the day and at our Lazy Sunday sessions, and then join us in the evening for a more energetic vibe,” Tom says.
The Brooklyn Social, 34-35 Sadler Gate, Derby DE1 3NR
Tel: 07971 632622
Behind the scenes
Design: Chris Guest
Neon lighting: Invicta Neon
Seating: Andy Thornton
Artwork: Artrepublic (Brighton)
Originally published in the June 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.