Maison Premiere, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, New York, Oysters, Oyster Bar, Wine Bar, New Orleans, Absinthe, Maxwell Britten, Where to drink in Brooklyn, Absinthe Recommendations


Photographs courtesy of Maison Premiere



- Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.’s Brooks Reitz


Maxwell Britten’s recommendations for his favorite spirits and where to eat and drink in New York, Washington, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tucson.

Q & A


Q. Tell us about Maison Premiere:

A. Maison Premiere is an oyster house and cocktail den. It is inspired by Old New Orleans, hotels of bygone days, Old New York oyster bars and saloons.


Maison Premiere is an atmosphere that was conceptualized by Josh Boissy and Krystof Zizka as watering hole with high standards and sincere intentions to try to create an atmosphere of conviviality and luxury.


Q. Did you go to New Orleans for inspiration?

A. I had gone to New Orleans for inspiration on my own, but it happened to be kismet that the owners of Maison Premiere (Josh Boissy and Krystof Zizka) had gone there to develop the Maison Premiere concept. It’s inspired by some of the greatest restaurants and bars ever built in the Crescent City: Napoleon House, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, Antoine’s, Tujague’s, Commander’s Palace and The Old Absinthe House. Our mutual love for New Orleans and its many restaurants and bars was definitely seen from the same perspective from day one.

Absinthe 101

Q. Your focus is absinthe. What are the misconceptions about absinthe and what should we know?

A. There are many, but one that I will continue to have to remind people of as the biggest misconception there is: you will not hallucinate from drinking absinthe.

The thujone content in wormwood is what causes hallucination, however you'd have to have quite a lot of thujone in there to really hallucinate. In the US, thujone content is regulated. I have heard other researchers of absinthe say that there is probably more thujone content in a bowl of pasta with butter and sage, than there was in the pre-banned absinthe. And finally, as I often say, if you drink a large enough amount of any strong alcohol for long enough, you will hallucinate regardless of what category it is.


Q. You have a wide selection of different bottles of absinthe. What are some of the nuance differences between bottles and can you give us guidance on selecting which ones to pick? 


1. Know your palate. It’s always the most important thing as far as choosing a selection for your enjoyment. For absinthe, it is all about knowing what style you enjoy.

2. Absinthe has two distinct expressions: Verte and Blanche. Verte (green) is traditionally a French style and Blanche (white) is more typical of the Swiss. However, Vertes can be Swiss and vice versa for Blanche.

3. All absinthe must be made with Wormwood, Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Anise, Fennel. A key element in what gives Verte its color has to do with the production method of the absinthe. If it is a Verte, you can generally deduce that its ingredients have macerated long enough for it to become that color--unless you aren't using all natural ingredients and add coloring to your absinthe, which by our standards is not real absinthe. When ingredients lend color to a final product you can expect those ingredients to pronounce their flavors very boldly. When it comes to Blanche, you'll find it is a little bit lighter and subtle.

4. Some people who are coming around to absinthe should normally go for Blanche first. It’s not because I don't think someone might not be able to handle it, but I just think it is better to be introduced than punched in the face. So a great Blanche to start off on would be something like the Germain Robin Absinthe Superieure. It is a very feminine style, mildly sweet, very minty with a hint of anise and wormwood--a great starter and excellent for the ladies. 

5. My favorite choice. Personally, I enjoy really aggressive flavors in my absinthe, so I like to go for absinthes like the La Muse Verte from France. Its louche (opaqueness when the water hits the absinthe) is a dark green, it is mildly bitter with a thick body and a lot of citrus notes.

Pairing Oysters

Q. Oyster are prominent on your menu. What are some unexpected pairings you can suggest?

A. They are. I am huge fan of vermouths, I am all about doing a Lillet Blanc with an orange twist, with a mildly salty Oyster from the East Coast, like the Tomahawk (New York). It’s sort of minerally and citrusy, and works well with the orange twist.

Another cool pairing with absinthe could be something along the lines of the Obituary Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, absinthe) with a Quilcene oyster (Hood Canal, Washington), The Quilcene oysters are very rich and sweet and it plays well with the botanical flavors of the gin and the hints of anise from the absinthe. The vermouth carries along well with the body which has a really full finish.


Q. Jack Rudy Cocktail Company’s Brooks Reitz recommended you as a bartender who should be on people’s radar. Who do you recommend?

A. Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar - this guy is one of the sweetest and historically knowledgeable and talented bartenders I have ever met. A real treat to talk to about almost anything and, most of the time, before you realize it, he has a smirk on his face with a give-this-drink-a-try vibe going on. If you are ever in New Orleans, I highly recommend a visit. 

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Q. What’s your favorite resource (websites, guides, books, etc.) for drink-related information?

A. There are a lot of interesting blogs out there that are fun to read and helpful from time to time. For absinthe my go to websites are:
1. Worm Wood Society (

2. La Fee Verte (

3. Oxygenee (

These sites are fun for collectors and antiquing, which I am sure you can tell, we like to do at Maison Premiere:

4. Finest and Rarest (

5. Wills Bridge (


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New York / Brooklyn

Q. Where are the best off the beaten track restaurants, that you’d be excited to take an adventurous eater?

A. Roberta’s has been a favorite of mine since they've opened. Their pies are great, but their kitchen does some really excellent food as well. I feel like with their garden, the versatility of the food, the radio network, parties, and the crazy part of town they’re in, that they've got a really amazing collective going on. Definitely a great place to introduce someone to.

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Q. Where do you love to eat when you go back to Tucson and what should we order?

A. If we are going out in Tucson, it is all about the Mexican food. There is no other town in the United States that has better Mexican food, hands down. For great burritos, one of my all time favorite spots was Los Alazones. You are going to find in almost any one restaurant, taco stand or burrito truck on South 6th Avenue . I will name just a couple, there are so many greats to choose from: Taqueria de Pico de Gallo, Mi Nidito.

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Q. Where would you take a visiting mixologist to drink in New York?

A. Sunny’s in Red Hook - for just a great bar with an amazing atmosphere and cold beer.

If God forbid, we had to just drink amazing cocktails all night long in Brooklyn, it's definitely a toss-up between Clover Club and Prime Meats.

For Manhattan, I would say Little Branch or the soon-to-be-changed-forever Milk and Honey, are about as solid as it gets.


Dutch Kills - kickass ice program, good vibes, unexpected great times in Queens.

Raines Law Room - amazing decor, excellent staff.

Weather Up - both the TriBeCa and Brooklyn locations. I go to TriBeCa for a night on the town. I go to the one in Brooklyn when I am relaxing, because it’s in my ‘hood. Nowhere else around there can you get a great champagne cocktail and some cold fried chicken.

River Cafe - champagne on the river.

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Q. What other cocktail lounges can you pass along as a recommendation around the country?



The Franklin Mortgage Co. - some serious cocktails, by Philly’s finest. Highly recommended.

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Washington, DC

The Gibson - our nation's capital has got to have some good cocktails and this is where you'll find em.

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New Orleans

Tujague’s - for Sazeracs.

Arnaud’s French 75 Bar - for a French 75.

The Columns - for a Pimm’s Cup.

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Q. What unique spirits/wines/ingredients have you come across lately that you’re excited to use?

A. Right now, I am working on getting some new stuff from Tempus Fugit Spirits. I am hoping to get a creme de cacao a Quina and a Creme de Violet, this so far is rumored, but I believe they will be out soon.

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Q. Any other ingredient / syrup / soda producers that should be on our radar?

A. I'm not really so much into the soda craze. I have always been into syrups, which is all you need to make a soda. At Maison Premiere, we definitely like playing with Amaros and Becherovka. We don't really use these too often for the drinks on the menu, but for friends and experimentation we are totally into that stuff. I guess we all love bitters and vermouth almost as much as we love absinthe.

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Details on Maxwell Britten’s recommendations for his favorite spirits and where to eat and drink in New York, Washington, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tucson.

Cocktail Recipes

- Opal Cocktail

- Peaches & Cream


Maison Premiere - Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY


Oyster Bar / Wine Bar / New Orleans

298 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
T: 347.335.0446


Mon - Fri: 4pm - 4am
Sat - Sun: 12pm - 4am

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