People crowd into the rear area of a Bushwick bar. They’re hooting and hollering, throwing dollar bills into the air as a drag queen named Ruby Fox, with long hair and an outfit reminiscent of an underground fetish party, lip syncs and launches into a back handspring. Where a kitchen once sizzled, a DJ now spins. Nowadays, this is just an average Wednesday night at The Rosemont, a newer project from Trash Bar’s Aaron Pierce that initially opened in Bushwick last May. Rather than carrying on the wild spirit of Trash, The Rosemont was poised to be more mature, a jazz club slinging bespoke cocktails and small plates. But recently they brought on someone new, switching saxophones for death drops.
Hopeful as Pierce was for this new, classier direction, seven days a week of jazz didn’t prove entirely fruitful. Enter Troy Carson, previously known for opening Williamsburg gay bars Metropolitan and Sugarland and managing East Village spots Nowhere Bar and Phoenix, who now serves as The Rosemont’s general manager.
The Rosemont has a rocky origin story. In 2015, B+B reported that its neighbors weren’t so welcoming of Pierce, whose last bar had a reputation for debauchery. However, it doesn’t appear that The Rosemont is causing too much of a fuss, as there are only about 12 noise complaints made via 311 (all of which have been resolved) in the past six months, according to NYC Open Data.
This isn’t an incredibly new change for the bar; they had a soft re-opening event back in December. But embarking on a new venture during the winter months, Carson explains to me in one of The Rosemont’s booths one afternoon, isn’t exactly easy. Most people are too cold to try new spaces, and many performers and hosts already have their regular haunts.
The Rosemont was a fresh start for Carson too, in a way. He had left New York for Arizona, leaving the whopping four bars he owned or managed in the process. But once Pierce offered him The Rosemont as a new project, he jumped at the opportunity. The bar’s shift happened shortly after the closing of Williamsburg gay bar This N’ That, which left some bemoaning the small number of LGBTQ+ spaces left in Brooklyn.
“We felt since Sugarland was closed and TNT closed, that there was a gap,” Carson explains. “We thought it would be a good opportunity and something good for the community too. Open another option.”
When I bring up the fact that this decision implies queer nightlife may now be more profitable than more “conventional” endeavors like live music, Carson says the topic has often been on his mind. “People sometimes wonder, it’s a jazz bar, a straight bar that didn’t succeed, so they just want gay money. I think it’s a totally different situation here. It’s under queer management,” he muses, remarking that even several of their bartenders are part of the surrounding queer community.
Though the bar now has several recurring events and parties (karaoke on Mondays, weekly drag shows, cabarets, a lesbian party, and more), Carson says they’re always looking for more programming. (Full disclosure: several of my friends have performed at The Rosemont.)
Carson may be a veteran of these types of spaces, but he’s been off the scene for a while. Much of his time after joining the bar’s team was spent, he tells me, “chasing around parties” and setting up regular nights. The bar has been frequented by familiar faces of the Brooklyn scene, like drag queens Merrie Cherry and Horrorchata, performer Tyler Ashley, and DJ/queen Hannah Lou. But many newer performers have also entered the fray.
“That’s something else I like to do, offer up space for [new] people to develop their stuff,” he tells me. “I just love creating a space people can come and enjoy and feel like they’re a part of. For me, it feels like more of a community center than just a bar.”
Some gay bars began to panic when RuPaul’s Drag Race announced it was moving to Fridays, as many had structured their scheduling around the fact that the popular show aired on Mondays. For The Rosemont, this was less of a concern, as they didn’t have an intricate calendar to maintain. For them, it has provided an automatic Friday night event.
There’s a spacious backyard, and Carson tells me as the weather warms he’d like to try out a frozen margarita machine, or perhaps something similar to the outdoor BBQ at Metropolitan that earned the bar a feature in the New York Times in 2011.
Craft cocktails will still be on the menu, but bar offerings have since expanded to cater to the less financially-endowed crowd. A tall boy and shot special is a decent $6, and for some of the weekly parties $5 well drinks are on the menu. The original swankier decor has remained, with the addition of art on the walls that rotates on a monthly basis.
“People like the space– the cleanliness of it, I guess. I’ve had comments from naysayers who think it’s too nice,” Carson says. “I say, just give it a year, it’ll be nice, but a little less nice. We’re still working on it.”
The Rosemont is located at 63 Montrose Avenue, Bushwick.