When the Ten Bells opened on the Lower East Side in 2008, there weren’t really any other bars focused exclusively on natural wine. Yet, today the phrase “natural wine” is becoming increasingly commonplace at many New York City restaurants, bars, and wine shops. As of yesterday, the team expanded its reach, bringing what they’ve learned over the years across the bridge with the Ten Bells Brooklyn, located at 65 Irving Avenue in Bushwick, right across from Maria Hernandez Park.
The Ten Bells has no doubt had a hand in shaping the initial wave of interest in natural wine, particularly in Manhattan. It became a favorite late-night option amongst hospitality workers in the industry and is often cited as one of downtown Manhattan’s best date spots. “Ten Bells has been the entry point for so many people’s exploration into natural wines. It helps that the staff is so generous with their knowledge, too,” Katherine Clary, author of Wine, Unfiltered: Buying, Drinking, and Sharing Natural Wine (2020) and publisher of The Wine Zine, tells Eater.
The Brooklyn location has a lighter, brighter look than the Broome Street original, though much of its signature wood-heavy aesthetic and vibe-y lighting remains. The space itself — taking over the shuttered Walter’s Coffee Roastery, a former Breaking Bad-themed coffee shop — is slightly bigger than the Lower East Side location, and it also has an expanded outdoor garden area (there’s also the possibility of an outdoor structure being added on the sidewalk, too). The space has been ready to open for nearly a year, while the team waited for the appropriate time to finally welcome customers inside. (During the pandemic, the Ten Bells had been selling bottles from its LES wine cellar).
“It’s the perfect location,” says the Ten Bells Brooklyn co-owner Adrien Angelvy. “We can’t wait to offer Brooklyn what we’ve offered Manhattan for over a decade.”
While the modern day natural wine movement is often linked to France, the practice of producing wines without using additives goes back thousands of years. As more people have become familiar with low-intervention wines — “natural wine must be made with grapes grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides,” Clary notes in her book — the conversation has also shifted about many of these trendy wines. In the past year, there’s been a growing emphasis on discussing labor practices at vineyards beyond just the “funky” flavors of many bottles.
To pair with the wines, customers will find many of Ten Bells signature dishes such as the lamb meatballs, oysters, patatas bravas, steak tartare, and charcuterie boards, but several new items will be on the Bushwick menu, which will start small and may expand. Anglevy adds that dishes, such as salads, will draw on the availability of seasonal ingredients and that canned fish — including sardines, mackerer, and squid — from Portugal and Spain will also be part of the menu.
The wine list will change monthly and there’s also a forthcoming happy hour deal: $1 oysters, $6 glasses of wine, or $18 carafes. For the first time, the team will have a full liquor license, which allows Ten Bells Brooklyn to serve cocktails. “We’re not going to be serving vodka sodas just for the sake of it,” Angelvy says. “It gives us the opportunity to serve things like cognac and grappa that are in line with what Ten Bells does best.”
Eventually, the team may offer to-go bites and drinks, which might be enjoyed nearby in Maria Hernandez Park, but not upon its initial launch.
“Natural wine was niche and now it’s more approachable,” Angelvy says. “The DNA is the same at Ten Bells Brooklyn, but we’re not here to teach people about wine...we just want to give them a great place to hangout.” Something, he says, many people might be thirsty for “after a hard year.”
The Ten Bells Brooklyn is open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.