To cultivate the type of commitment that has an uplifting effect on your life, it has to be the right bar. We thought, who better to point us to the Hudson Valley's best watering holes than the men and women behind bars (ha)? So, we asked the bartenders at seven of our favorite local establishments where they go for drink when they get a night off.
Be sure to check out their recommendations AND their places of employment.
1. The Egg's Nest
Paul Maloney, co-owner of The Stockade Tavern in Kingston, says:
Jenny and I really like to go to The Eggs Nest in High Falls. The owners Eric and Cristina are wonderful as are their food and drinks. We love a 'highbrow lowbrow' moment—for us, a Beefeater Martini (heavy on the vermouth) with a twist and an order of chicken wings fills the bill.
Laura Webster, head bartender at Gaskins in Germantown, says:
When I have the time between bartending and running my small business, Poor Devil Pepper Co. fermented hot sauce, I love finding my way over to the bar at Kozel’s to sip on a dirty vodka martini," says Laura Webster, who's been a bartender at Gaskin's since the day they opened in 2015. "Kozel's is definitely stuck in a certain period of time and being from Massachusetts, I appreciate all of the Red Sox paraphernalia. It’s truly a Columbia County institution that I’ve loved frequenting since I moved out here in 2014.
3. The Half Moon
Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo, owners of Lil Deb's Oasis in Hudson, say:
Our favorite bar in the Hudson Valley is The Half Moon, of course! It is literally the people's bar with a clientele as diverse as Hudson. On any given night there could be an unbelievable 8-piece band from Niger, an industrial goth DJ, reggae night, a honky tonk two-steppin' class, or a good old fashioned sweaty dance party that cleanses our souls and energizes our bodies (especially important in these winter months) All of this within a seemingly dive-bar-down-the-street vibe "where everybody knows your name." There's a pool table too if your into that, and in the summer a great patio to hang out too.
There's not really a cocktail list, but we have two favorite "off menu" bar concoctions that we order there. 1.) The Campargarita, just the Half moon's delicious classic margarita with fresh lime juice + rocks + salt, and a splash of Campari, so its pink and has a bit more of that sweet-bitter flavor. 2.) Pacifico Chelada, served in a pint glass with lots of ice and a salt rim, a generous amount of lime juice, and top off with a bottle of Pacifico.
4. Tavern 23
Alycia Giannetta, longtime beertender/barista at Underground Coffee & Ales in Highland, says:
Tavern 23 in Poughkeepsie is my go-to. It’s just your classic neighborhood bar, that always feels welcoming and the bartenders know you by name. Through these cold months it’s my favorite place to grab a hot toddy or a glass of Cote du Rhône”
5. Lis Bar
Pia Bazzani, Head bartender at Crown Lounge in Kingston says:
My favorite bar to visit when I am off is the new spot in Midtown, Lis. The decor is vintage with modern hints. It has a relaxed vibe where you can sip on delicious cocktails and socialize with friends. The Polish Daisy is my go-to cocktail there—smokey notes come from the Mezcal, paired with a subtleness of Plum. Yum!
6. Station Bar and Curio
Billy Rogan, bartender at A&P Bar in Woodstock says:
My favorite local bar is the Station Bar and Curio in Woodstock. We all go to the Station to shoot pool, have a drink, and unwind after a shift. I enjoy the local and lax vibe there. Depending on my mood, I can either sit alone undisturbed and relax, or engage with the regulars and the visiting city folk and have a laugh. Ben and Lilly, the owners, take pride not only in their cocktails and bar, but their pool table, which is what makes a bar something more than just a place for drinks.
They host pool league tournaments regularly, and it’s a great, cozy spot to shoot some stick. A toss up of my favorite cocktail on their menu would be The OG Jungle Bird, created by bartender “Z,” or the Jalapeño Mango Margarita. The Jungle Bird incorporates Campari with rum, so you get a little bitter with the sweet, and the margarita is made with a house-infused jalapeño tequila with a delicious mango juice, that I love. The Station also supports local musicians and artists with concerts and outdoor sculptures, which helps to add more life to the space.
Devan Hasson, Head Bartender at The Corner at Hotel Tivoli, says:
The first bar that came to mind for me was Huckleberry in New Paltz! A place I love to go to on my days off. Their cocktail menu alone draws me in but it is the atmosphere I love. You can enjoy the inside bar, decorated with old doors on the walls. Upstairs is a lounge offering board games and cards. They are open seven days a week. I can do my errands and shopping in town, and have this oasis to confide in when I'm done! They offer local beers from surrounding breweries and farm to table comfort food. You can cozy up in their bar or enjoy your drinks next to an open fire pit on their patio. My all time favorite cocktail is called the Spooky Lady Side Show—mezcal, Aperol, honey, grapefruit, and lavender bitters. As a bartender and a patron I highly recommend this hidden gem!