25 Apr / Billet & Bellows in The New Yorker
Sometimes a bar embodies its owner, down to its very bones. One recent evening, Kristina Kozak, a metalsmith and, since November, the proprietor of a cocktail den with metal-themed drinks (the Hearth and Anvil, the Draw and Temper), mused, “I’ve ripped this building apart. It envelops me.” She took a sip of crisp Gazela Vinho Verde and recalled how, in 1997, she and her father bought the place, for six thousand dollars down (from cops who were running a burger and beer joint; Kozak found porn in the rafters). They converted the ground floor into a store where Kozak could sell her furniture, and the upstairs into an apartment where she still lives. “As I get older, as a metalworker, my body might give out; I need an alternate source of income,” Kozak said, of her decision to make the store a bar. The space features her father’s wall-mounted desk lamps; flea-market deer skulls hang above a fireplace. The steel stools from which one woman woozily descended after a Golden Screw (a peach mint julep that her companion dubbed “adult Snapple”) were fabricated by Kozak. Williamsburgers might recognize her work outside Whisk, Bembe, and Iona. Once, SUNY Downstate’s gross-anatomy students were having body issues. “They kept pushing the gurneys into the wall,” Kozak said, laughing—so she solved their problem with a skeleton-shaped bumper.