Victus Members enjoy the following perk when visiting this restaurant:
Complementary Dessert w/ Purchase of Entree
Dubbed the “best not-quite-gay-but-almost-gay bar” by Time Out New York, Branded Saloon is an interesting mix of queer nightlife with an old west vibe. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can tell it’s a popular place with a good deal of regular faces. The decor is straight out of the wild wild west, with moonshine bottles, wagon wheel lighting fixtures, even a rattlesnake skeleton (which was an interesting change of pace, as I don’t often have skeletons silently looking down on me as I sip my drink).
Among the old time-y decor are a few hints of the city, like the Brooklyn jersey strategically hung below a mounted moose head.
The staff was friendly and laid-back, though I must admit I was a bit bummed that we didn’t happen to be there when drag-queen trivia or a burlesque show was happening -everyone was fully clothed and not a wig in sight, unfortunately. Be sure to check the event calendar on their website, if you’re interested in checking out any of their numerous events.
The bar contains all the usual stuff, plus 20 odd varieties of cans and bottles and 10 on tap. The specialty cocktail menu is short but varied, with fun, tasty treats like Branded’s Mint Julep Slushie (bourbon, mint simple, bitters) and Key Lime Pie Martini (with a graham cracker rim) for those who love sugary drinks. And for those who like a bit more kick to their cocktail, Jack ‘n’ Smoke (cherry wood smoked cola and Tennessey whiskey) and Kentucky Roots (Old Overholt Rye, Ginger, elderflower, orange bitters, lemon). And last but not least, specially crafted for the cowboy-hipsters out there –a Whiskey Bacon Milkshake (ice cream, whiskey, maple bacon, caramel, almond syrup, with a bacon strip garnish).
The menu boasts what could best be described as “gourmet bar food.” Think lots of fried stuff, but not just your every-day, average fried stuff. For some crispy, greasy goodness, we started with the Fried Pickles, Crispy Beets, Branded Garlic Fries, and Beer Battered Fish Tacos. All four were exactly what you’d want out of deep-fried dishes, your brain’s not exactly going to give you a healthy eating award anytime soon, but your stomach is pretty darn happy. For more substantial bites, the Branded Burger is great, with maple glazed bacon, blue cheese, bourbon sauce, and sauteed onions. There’s also Brisket on Texas Toast, Buttermilk Chicken Strips (which seem to be a big favorite), and the Mac-n-Cheese Skillet. For dessert there’s just one option, but it’s a goodie –Sticky Toffee Pudding, which may have been my favorite dish of the night.
Looking for a place to nurse that hangover? Branded Brunch is served from 12-4:30pm every Saturday and Sunday. Grab some hair of the dog with $10 Mimosa or Sangria Carafes or their uber popular Bloody Mary Bar ($8 with $4 refills). Then soak up all of that alcohol with dishes like French Toast Stuffed with Bourbon Pecan Cream Cheese, Smoked Shrimp and Grits, or Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy.
The back room of Branded serves as a performance space, with an old upright piano to add to the atmosphere. With numerous events from live music, to DJs, to poker nights, to the aforementioned drag-queen trivia nights, any given evening will be sure to serve up some fun at Branded Saloon.
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.