As much as I and maybe you protest the idea, summer is coming to an end. What to do besides get mad at people who are smugly announcing their pro-fall takes now that they know the sun won’t take horrible revenge on them? Besides waiting for the northern hemisphere to be tilted towards the loving light of the sun again, you could try soaking up the cruise ship/tropical vibes at Ridgewood’s Paradise Lounge (678 Woodward Avenue). Oh, and the strong tropical drinks– you should probably soak up a couple of those, too.
Paradise Lounge, opened this summer by a quintet of bar pros who’ve been involved in opening and running things at Marco’s, Old Stanley’s and Montana’s Trail House, slid into the Woodward Avenue space once occupied by neighborhood dive Paradise. With an airier feel and some extra nautical decoration (including a life preserver, a shark behind the bar in place of many TVs and a man overboard flag in the far corner of the room), the room now has what co-owner Austin Hartman describes as a “laissez faire blend of island/boat vibe to approachable neighborhood bar.”
Whatever, though, you don’t go to a bar to sit and look at the decorations, you go to Margaritaville for that. You go to a bar to drink, and on that front, Paradise delivers. There’s a standard mix of cheap bottles and cans (e.g. $4 Bud and $5 Red Stripe), tap options from $4 to $7, and a couple different beer and shot specials. During happy hour, you can grab $2 off drafts, well liquor and wine and $6 daiquiris (the $6 daiquiri is also an all-day option on Tuesdays, if you’re looking for an express train to Hangoverville).
The selection of over a dozen tropical drinks is heavy on rum-based options. They’re broken up into Island Traditionals, i.e. your Dark & Stormys and Wray & Tings (run with grapefruit soda); Modern Classics, i.e. your Daiquiris and Queen’s Park Swizzles (rum, mint, lime, sugar and Angostura bitters); and Paradise Originals, which go heavy on the liquor with things like the La Quebrada Spritz #2 (mezcal, grapefruit, aperol, sherry and sparkling wine). The latter is an interesting choice for anyone who’s ever dreamed of the idea of sparkling mezcal (fine, maybe that was just me). Hartman said that the bar is hoping to host guest bartender nights on some future Thursdays, which will mean an expanded opportunity to drink things that aren’t even on the menu.
Should you be nervous about dumping a bunch of rum in your gut without some food as a defense mechanism, Paradise Lounge has you covered there too, with a kitchen courtesy of diner-style Riis Park vendors Ed & Bev’s. In true progressive fashion, there’s both an omnivore and a vegan menu, so whether you want your chili cheese fries with cow or soy-based chili, you’ll be able to eat happily. I went with the cheeseburger and fries. Its $14 price might put you off. Which, fair. On the other hand, the drinks are affordable enough that it it seems like a reasonable tradeoff.
Also, there’ll be DJ nights on Friday and Saturday nights, and as a special for fall, on weekend afternoons. So no, we can’t have summer all year round, at least until our awful denial of the climate crisis gives us more of it than we’ve ever asked for. At the very least, though, we can drink colorful rum drinks for the whole year.