Gardiner Liquid Mercantile: A High-Spirited Hub for Crafted Cocktails and Community | Bars | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Gardiner Liquid Mercantile: A High-Spirited Hub for Crafted Cocktails and Community 

The eatery is continuing to bring the best of craft distillation to Gardiner after its founder’s passing

Last Updated: 09/23/2021 2:13 pm
click to enlarge COURTESY OF GARDINER LIQUID MERCANTILE
  • Courtesy of Gardiner Liquid Mercantile

Since 2015, the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile has been serving up cocktails from their full bar of craft spirits, including their signature house apple brandy, as well as a seasonal menu of dishes made with local produce. Housed in a quaint cottage on Gardiner’s two-block main drag, the idea for GLM—as both watering hole and spirits line—was conceived of by Hudson Valley craft distilling icon Gable Erenzo. After helping his father Ralph Erenzo build up Tuthilltown Spirits, first as a distiller and then later through marketing as a brand ambassador, Gable wanted to return to creating the liquors himself, opening the Mercantile as a way to distill spirits and have a space to craft drinks with them.

“He was really excited about bringing all of the handcrafted cocktails to our little area,” says Cathy Erenzo, Gable’s wife, who took over the Mercantile after he passed away unexpectedly this April. “We’re pretty much one-of-a kind in terms of having all these beautiful smoked cocktails and handmade shrubs.” Ever the innovator, Gable created GLM’s signature fruit brandies, the cornerstone of the Mercantile’s cocktails, using what would be otherwise wasted apples and berries from neighboring Dressel Farms. After traveling extensively as the brand ambassador to Tuthillltown, opening a bar in Gardiner was also a way for Gable to be closer to home and help with the couple’s foster children.

Gable’s lengthy craft spirits CV included being the chief distiller for Tuthilltown, which his father Ralph Erenzo opened in 2003. There, the pair distilled whiskey in New York for the first time since Prohibition and developed Hudson Whiskey, a nationally sold spirit made using local grain. Cathy explains that her husband wanted to help other distillers learn about the trade. “He brought that knowledge back to share with as many local people as he could,” she says. Gable eventually moved into a marketing role and away from distilling before Tuthilltown was sold to international liquor purveyors William Grant & Sons in 2017.

Gable envisioned the Mercantile as a place for people to come together and enjoy the terroir of the Hudson Valley in food and drink form. “He just wanted to make beautiful, fresh cocktails and food that people would enjoy,” Cathy says. “He always wanted to gather with friends and enjoy delicious local food and drink.” The emphasis on place is felt throughout the establishment, with artifacts from Gardiner and Ulster County on the walls behind the bar. An antique tractor hangs from the high ceiling, a constant visual call back to the region’s rich agricultural heritage. All liquor served is from New York, and ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible.

Upholding a Legacy

Since Gable’s passing, Cathy and the team at the Mercantile have worked to not only keep his vision alive but to expand the restaurant’s offerings. Outdoor and indoor seating has been expanded, and two private event rooms are available for rent upstairs.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF GARDINER LIQUID MERCANTILE
  • Courtesy of Gardiner Liquid Mercantile

An updated menu that combines old favorites and new creations launched last month, reflecting the Mercantile’s recent partnership with The Grazery, a cafe and artisan market in New Paltz. The Grazery now handles all food, cooking it onsite in the Mercantile’s kitchen. One of the most popular new items is the “Lucky,” an open-faced cauliflower and hummus sandwich (with a gluten free option available), which is just one of several vegan options. The “One Flip Burger,” a classic cheeseburger made with beef from Hudson Valley Cattle Company, is another popular item and homage to Gable, who used to serve the patties.

Many of the cocktails on the drink list contain small-batch spirits made in the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile Distillery. Try “Off With the Fairies,” which features the GLM aged apple brandy balanced by fresh lemon and a blackberry peach shrub. The Mercantile’s house whiskey is the star of “Gold Rush,” accompanied by honey syrup, fresh lemon, and orange bitters. Not in the mood for a cocktail? The bar also serves up local brews from spots like Chatham Brewing and Butternuts Beer and Ale, and hard cider from nearby Graft Cider and Brooklyn Cider House.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF GARDINER LIQUID MERCANTILE
  • Courtesy of Gardiner Liquid Mercantile

All the elements of the Mercantile work together to stitch a cohesive sense of community. “The bartenders are likely to remember a customer’s name and what type of ingredients they like in their cocktails,” Cathy says.

For people who want to take something home, the Mercantile also has a storefront with sweet treats from The Grazery, including boozy cupcakes baked with shots of liquor, plus curated selection of New York craft spirits, wine, beer, and cider. “We only sell the things that our bartenders like to serve,” Cathy explains. Almost all of the alcohol served at the bar can be purchased by the bottle. Need the implements to whip up your own cocktails at home? The Mercantile also sells barware that was selected by Gable, who wanted to ensure that customers had access to high quality shakers and glassware.

The Mercantile has several upcoming projects over the next few months. They recently moved their distillery from Dressel Farms to Baldwin Vineyards in Pine Bush. With the help and advice of Speakeasy Motors Whiskey Company, whose products are available at the Mercantile, Cathy and the team are continuing to distill the fruit brandies and whiskey that they are known for, still using fruit from Dressel and other local farms. New products, such as bartender Matty’s cacao-hazelnut liqueur, will be sold in the Mercantile as soon as next month.

Though some things have changed, the Mercantile continues to uphold Gable’s legacy. Cathy credits her husband with setting the establishment up for success, and says that his staff has continued remaining loyal to the business as she took over. Their work—and stories from the community— have kept her husband’s memory alive. “I feel incredibly lucky to know all the people that he was involved with over the years and to be a part of carrying the Mercantile forward,” she says.

The Gardiner Liquid Mercantile is open 12-9pm, Thursday-Saturday and Monday, and 12-8pm on Sundays.

Gardiner Liquid Mercantile
128 Main Street, Gardiner
(845) 633-8764
gardinerliquidmercantile.com

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