Now that Fort Defiance is serving cocktails, let’s have a look at the place. With the help of his wife, prop stylist Linden Elstran, St. John Frizell outfitted a former apartment with floor tiles inspired by Rhum J.M.’s plantation house in Martinique, then hung effects from his travels on the walls. In our slideshow, you’ll see a Oaxacan woodcut of Zapata, an oil painting of an armed angel picked up in Bolivia, an ink painting brought back from China, and from Colombia, letterpress posters advertising Smiths karaoke night, fútbol, and a cockfight. The chairs are from the defunct Playboy Club in St. Louis, and Frizell stole the chandelier from his mom’s house.
As previously mentioned, Fort Defiance is now serving mixed drinks (in tall glasses and on the rocks, and none containing more than four ingredients — a nod to summer as well as a thumbing of the nose at the overseriousness of the cocktail revival), and as we’ve also mentioned, the muffuletta was designed to be as close to the Central Grocery standard as possible. That is, Frizell had sandwiches shipped from New Orleans and challenged two local bakeries to match the bread, then had his chef Sam Filloramo reverse engineer the olive salad. The winning bakery was Royal Crown. If you can believe it, Frizell tells us his sandwich might actually be bigger than Central Grocery’s (he serves it in sixths instead of fourths, for $9 per wedge), and better, too (he uses coppa instead of Virginia ham and soppressata instead of a run-of-the-mill salami). We’ll let you be the judge.
Fort Defiance, 365 Van Brunt St., nr. Dikeman St., Red Hook, Brooklyn; 347-453-6672