Opening night at Danger Danger, the newest project from a team of nightlife veterans. Photo: Marissa Alper

The first things anyone notices upon walking into Danger Danger, a new bar tucked next to a laundromat on Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick, are the parrots, which is impressive because the room also features an eight-foot-tall menu marquee above the bar and wall-to-wall zebra carpeting. There are two dozen stained-glass birds perched atop massive Tiffany chandeliers that hang over the bar. “I do a lot of late-night eBay searching,” says Jason Scott, one of the co-owners. “I showed the parrots to everyone I knew and said, ‘Someday I’m going to have a place where I can hang them.’”

For this project, Scott has teamed up with Eddy Buckingham (the two also run the Ridgewood trance-and-techno wine bar Mansions), plus Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross (best known as the duo behind Attaboy). Scott wanted to do something “fun and fast-paced.” As Ross puts it, “We agreed on a harebrained scheme of doing a rock club in Bushwick, with a huge tequila and mezcal situation, cheap beers and shots, and loud music that goes until 4 a.m.”

Scott’s pitch, over beers, got a fast yes. He imagined Danger Danger as something of a spiritual successor to Frankie’s Pizza, a late-night music bar that he owned in Sydney. Ross and McIlroy knew it well; the former is Australian while McIlroy has been his business partner for almost 20 years. They had both spent, in their words, some “epic” nights there. “It was a little grungy, a little grimy, it served slices of pizza — and was hugely popular,” Ross explains. Frankie’s closed last year (it was demolished to make way for a metro station), but traces of it can be found at Danger Danger: “There’s never going to be a cover charge,” Scott says, “and there was carpet at Frankie’s, although it was red.” (Scott says they own enough of the zebra carpet, which was leftover from a Fashion Week event, to cover their downstairs area three times over: “It should take us through to the end of the first lease.”)

The soundtrack is more New Wave than classic rock.

The DD Spritz is a mix of mezcal and Red Bull.

The handshake door handle comes from co-owner Jason Scott’s old restaurant Gran Tivoli.

Scott wanted to model the bar after Frankie’s Pizza, a bar he previously ran in Sydney.

Every bar is better with pinball.

Photographs by Marissa Alper

Other, more concrete details have been pulled from the group’s old establishments, too, like a brass “handshake” door handle that Scott rescued from a restaurant that closed during the pandemic and the Frozen Agave Penichillin, a reincarnation of the frozen, Scotch-based Penichillin that Ross and McIlroy served at their Atlantic Avenue bar, Diamond Reef (which is itself a slushied remix of Ross’s now-famous Penicillin cocktail). Other drinks are simpler: The DD Spritz is a mix of mezcal and Red Bull, finished with an orange wedge. (The Red Bull provides the bubbles on this particular spritz.) The house espresso martini, meanwhile, riffs on a banana-accented recipe McIlroy and Ross do at Temple Bar, here made with reposado tequila, espresso, apricot liqueur, and vanilla syrup. “We know espresso martinis are everywhere, but people want to drink things that spark them up,” Ross says. “Plus, the apricot and vanilla together will sing.”

Mixology is not the point at Danger Danger; music is. The soundtrack skews toward New Wave and 1980s Euro pop — more Tom Tom Club and Duran Duran than you’d find on the bill at Arlene’s Grocery or nearby at the Three Diamond Door. “When Jason first brought me on, it was more rock ‘rock and roll,’” says Bianca Harris, Danger Danger’s general manager, “but when the carpet went down he looked at me and goes, ‘It’s not rock and roll, is it?’ It’s New Wave, disco, ’80s.” On a recent visit, the Carly Simon reggae-disco track “Why” played over a fog machine; one early mood-setting playlist includes Roxy Music, Rheinegold, and Plastic Bertrand. “I’m obviously not allowed to say that Tom Tom Club is better than Talking Heads,” Scott admits, “but do I play their songs a lot more? Yes I do.”

As for live performances, in lieu of a booking manager, acts that play Danger Danger will be self-determined by who shows up in Scott’s inbox. Sundays will kick off as a signature themed night with live bands, in a nod to the long-running Smiths/Morrissey Night held downtown at Sway and then Paul’s Casablanca. The setup at Danger Danger includes velvet curtains, some mics, and amps that Scott picked up from an old sound guy at Hammerstein Ballroom. “This was their testing equipment, and they didn’t need it anymore,” Scott says. “Everyone who comes in here says it’s way more sound than what we need, which is great for us.”

The marquee menu and parrot chandeliers above the bar. Photo: Marissa Alper