I don’t know much (yet) about Jersey City, New Jersey, but I do know that Dullboy, a bar that opened earlier this year, is paving the way for other, more intimate and thoughtful bars.
I first came across Dullboy on Instagram because they liked a photo of mine. I typically don’t explore too much on the platform outside of those I already follow, but Dullboy’s captivating food and cocktail photos mixed with its location (it’s a quick cab ride away from my apartment, or two short train rides) left me feeling like I had no choice but to hit the “follow” button.
After pining for well over a month and nearly weeping any time I saw their photos, the stars aligned and I had plans to meet my cousin at Dullboy on Grove Street for dinner and drinks.
A big part of why Dullboy is already so well received in the neighborhood is because of its food menu. Unfortunately, my plans were not for a Monday, which is when Dullboy offers $1 Blue Point oysters all night, but there were plenty of items for me to choose from anyway.
Dullboy is all about classic American grub with a spin, and oysters are on the menu all week long. To really showcase their creativity, Dullboy serves Thai-inspired chicken wings, Corned Beef Spring Rolls (corned beef, swiss cheese, house slaw, and homemade Russian dressing), BLT Tacos (bacon wrapped cherry tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and basil mayo), a Bone Marrow Burger (the Dullboy house blend along with bone marrow shallot marmalade with raclette cheese on a sesame brioche bun served with chips), and a Pernil Cubano (pulled pork shoulder, smoked ham, swiss cheese, grainy mustard butter, and pickles served with chips).
As you might assume, I had quite a difficult time deciding what to eat. After a lengthy deliberation, I settled on the Guanciale Mac & Cheese: macaroni and cheese made with smoked pork cheek, yellow cheeses, and truffle panko. Honestly, it seems every choice at Dullboy is the right one, but I was still quite satisfied with mine. It’s likely that I would have been just as happy with any of the other items I listed previously, so next time I’ll try something different.
Dullboy’s food maybe a home run, but their cocktails are a grand slam. Generally when cocktail menus are as lengthy as Dullboy’s is, I tend to grow a bit wary, but Dullboy’s bartenders seem to really pride themselves on how well they can curate a cocktail.
It’s both a passion and a job, and the menu reflects that, with 10 classic cocktails listed on top of 10 of Dullboy’s own specialty cocktails and two daily specials. The daily specials are categorized by how they are mixed, so patrons have the choice between shaken or stirred. Already, it’s clear that Dullboy understands the science of cocktailing.
But do they understand the art?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Here’s why: to start I ordered Dullboy’s take on a Sazerac, which contains rye, a barspoon of gomme syrup, and creole bitters. To date, this is the best Sazerac I’ve had. I was feeling confident enough to venture just a step outside of my wheelhouse, so I then ordered the Mina.
The Mina is Dullboy’s unbelievably creative concoction of white whiskey, bourbon, rhubarb amaro, sweet vermouth, and habanero. This drink, which elicits beautiful notes of dry heat along with the tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of bourbon, is both light and dark at once. It’s also one of the most creative drinks I’ve tried.
The Grove Street bar is dimly lit, intimate, and small, with seating at the bar and some tables as well. The white brick walls are decorated with typewriters (think “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”), but Dullboy doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s playful, and the bartenders are attentive, friendly, and clearly love their work.
The bar is a perfect spot for a get together with a small group for dinner, great for a date, and even better for bigger groups late at night. Truth be told, the place is no secret to frequenters of Jersey City, but for those that aren’t, it’ll be my little secret.