When you emerge from the G train station on Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint, it’s hard to miss Wanpaku, a little ramen shop on the corner. If you look, you might notice a small sign on its door listing hours for The Hidden Pearl. If you were curious, you might wonder what The Hidden Pearl is. But if you walk straight through Wanpaku, you’ll find a light blue door. When you push through it, you’ll find yourself at The Hidden Pearl, a stylish, 18-seat cocktail bar with blue-paneled banquettes, comfy gold barstools and light wood and gold accents. Its skylight plays against the dark and cavernous stereotype of hidden bars; instead, the space is light and airy.
You’ll also find the incredibly knowledgeable and friendly Andy Lau, head bartender at The Hidden Pearl, serving up elevated drinks, including the Kariyushi Club Cocktail ($16), which tastes like if a tiki bar were a cocktail—fruity, tropical, vibrant. It’s also one of the menu items that has been around since the bar first opened in 2018. Along with the Kariyushi Club Cocktail, you’ll find drinks like the Night Cap Coffee Break ($16). A playful take on a Manhattan, this cocktail starts with a base of Iwai 45, but is then shaken with cold brew liqueur, amaro, rakomelo (a spiced Greek spirit made with brandy and honey) and curry tincture. Lau uses ingredients that are not commonly found in cocktails. In the spring, he’ll be introducing a cocktail made with sweet and grassy garden pea purée.
Along with cocktails and spirits (which include an array of shochu, sake, wine and Japanese beers and whiskeys), The Hidden Pearl also offers a short, Japan-inspired small bites menu. Order the pillowy spicy pulled pork bun ($7), make-your-own spicy tuna topped crispy rice squares ($15) or kabocha squash croquettes served with coconut soy sauce ($10).
“We didn’t intend to be a speakeasy,” says Arnold Cheung, owner and designer of The Hidden Pearl. And while The Hidden Pearl is not expressly a secret, it is a hidden gem that’s all too easy to miss. So pop into Wanpaku for a comforting bowl of ramen, then confidently stride (like the insider you are) through that light blue door in the back. There, you’ll discover the lush, tropical Japanese cocktail bar that lies beyond.