On the roof of Flushing’s Hyatt Place Hotel, there’s a place to duck away from the press of human bodies, the street hawkers and the car exhaust and horns that make the city’s midday sun feel that much hotter.
Leaf Bar & Lounge is an respite from urban living in the heart of urban Queens. Here, patrons sit under trees on the rooftop patio, with an open view in three directions; the most stunning vista being toward the west, where Citi Field looms large and the miles-long Manhattan skyline sits backlit by the setting sun.
Up here, the air is fresh and there’s a cooling breeze. Dark wood tables and blonde wood floors are all in organic, natural tones, and plants – leafy, grass-like, potted, dried – are the primary decorative motif, heightening the sense that one has stumbled upon an oasis.
The craft cocktail lounge is the vision of co-owners Todd Leong and Helen Lee. Having looked at spaces in Manhattan, Leong said his choice to go with the space here in Flushing one year ago was “a bit of a risk.” But he took the leap, finding that there was “more of a need for it” in this neighborhood.
The botanically-inspired cocktails that Leong serves here match the space in beauty and attention to detail. They are made by real mixologists and feature house-made syrups and fresh-squeezed juices. The bar stocks rare and quality liquors include Kavalan, a Taiwanese single malt Whisky that won the World Whisky awards in 2015, and Yamazaki, named as a best Whisky by Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible. Only 5,000 bottles were ever made, and even fewer – only 1,500 – were brought to the United States. House mixologists used these fresh and quality ingredients to craft some of the most complex, fresh and delicious cocktails in town.
Owner Leong highlighted one of their signature cocktails “Bai Jiu, I Think She’s Got It,” for new guests. The green drink features a traditional Chinese liquor, Baijiu, which is made from grains. The alcohol is washed with Kefir lime, and mixed with pomegranate liqueur, arugula water, lemongrass syrup and fresh lemon. The result is a sophisticated cocktail that hits many notes on the tongue and gently warms the throat and chest. Oh, and it’s strong.
Which is why a bite to eat might be just the right thing. Taiwanese small plates are specialties of the chefs, brothers Henry and Jeff Lin.
Henry’s beef noodle soup is famous, while guests also love the “Tiger Bites Pig” pork belly bun or the refreshing cucumber with chili herb oil.
Small plates range $6-$12 while cocktails are $12-$14. Happy hour, from 5 to 8 p.m., brings the price of wine down to $6 and beer to $3.50.