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Maison Premiere

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298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, New York, US

By Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown

While it is often referred to as an oyster and absinthe bar, this charming Williamsburg establishment is so much more. With more than a subtle nod to the French heritage of New Orleans in the décor, drinks and food, Maison Premiere is hopelessly romantic. With dollar oyster specials, it can also be hopelessly packed.

Although it opened in 2011, Maison Premiere feels more like a 19th-century Parisian bistro. The marble-topped horseshoe bar offers plenty of standing room and that quickly fills up. Oysters and other food can be ordered at the bar or at the tables in the back. But the seats in the window are strictly for drinks. A wood and classic New York safety glass back bar separate the bar area from the tables and the oyster shuckers. On nice days, the garden seating under a wisteria arbour surrounded by large ferns is a sought-after oasis.

How many bars in the world have a dedicated menu for absinthe drips? Maison Premiere offers around 30 absinthes served with the appropriate glass, spoon and sugar cube (not ignited, of course). Its centrepiece is a flawless working replica of the 150-year-old absinthe drip that still resides at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

There is also an absinthe cocktails list plus a list of drinks with the full range of spirits. The Martini cocktail is a standout. Stirred tableside, it is delicious paired with one of the must-have seafood platters. The dinner menu does have a few land-based dishes. But if your date doesn’t love oysters perhaps you should bring someone else here who does.