This dizzying mash-up of Deep South and city shine is the best place we know to get the blues

by derek de koff

Biscuits and bourbon are not just Belle Shoals’ bread and butter, they are something close to a philosophy. Centered around a vintage Wurlitzer jukebox packed with carefully selected blues and soul 45s, the 50-seat joint and its gorgeous copper-topped bar is brought to you by the same masterminds behind The Gilroy and the Upper East Side’s Seamstress— Beverage Director Pamela Wiznitzer, Head Bartender James “Jimbo” Palumbo, and Executive Chef Aaron LaMonica.

Bringing a touch of Southern decadence to Williamsburg, the venue is named after a fictional town whose denizens live for the blues as well as large, hearty meals. On the wall is a plucky neon sign that reads “Let’s do some livin’.” Iron chandeliers abound, as does dark wood paneling, rosé is served on tap, and shots are slugged down in bullet casings. The vibe is one of a dive bar imbued with an inviting old-timey glamour.

Hungry? Southern comfort is what’s on the menu. For the merely peckish, there’s a select group of small dishes: a half dozen East Coast oysters; house spiced cocktail nuts; jalapeño hush puppies; and a buttered lettuce wedge with pickled shrimp, buttermilk dressing, and cornbread croutons. Side dishes include pecan pie bourbon cream, biscuits with bourbon butter, fries with smoked garlic aioli, and green beans almondine.

Large plates include Fried Duck Leg On A Biscuit (with sour pickles, chili honey, and slaw); the Drugstore Burger (brisket and short rib blend, lettuce, tomato, pickles, opinions, and a “top secret” sauce); the Po’Boy (fried oysters and slaw on a baguette); Chicken Fried Skate Wing on a Biscuit (with remoulade, pickles, and slaw); and Hell’s Belle’s (three serrano pepper-wrapped fried oysters, herb crepe, smoky aioli, and pickled onions).

Now for the main attraction: the cocktails. First off, please note that Belle Shoals’ lemon and orange garnishes are painstakingly folded into the likeness of a guitar. No small feat, and that same level of imagination and detail is evident in the drinks. There’s really no going wrong here, but our personal favorite is the Lil’ Slice of Heaven, an otherworldly mix of mellow corn, blackstrap, dry curacao, Benedictine, pecan orgeat, and lemon. Auntie Bellum is actually not a drag queen with a killer moniker, but rather a bracing concoction made of amontillado sherry, coconut syrup, Grand Marnier, tiki bitters, and lemon. Boss Peaches’ Sunday Tea is both sweet and indelibly hardcore: tea syrup, peach moonshine, cinnamon, and lemon, in a mix that makes us, as one bar-goer remarked, as “happy as a tick on a fat dog.”

Belle Shoals
10 Hope Street / 718.218.6027 / ingoodcompanyhg.com/belle-shoals

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