Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, Hudson River Valley
My favorite bar…
I’m not one for loud bars. I’m there to relax, enjoy some great wine, whiskey or cocktails and actually converse with the person I came with. My favorite bars allow me to chat with the bartenders or if I’m in the mood, settle down in a dark corner with an equally dark bourbon. Traveling has allowed me to imbibe at some spectacular bars around the world. Some of my absolute must visit bars are the 1608 at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, the Round Robin Bar at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London and Yvonne’s in Boston. But my absolute favorite bar is nestled deep in the Hudson River Valley a little over an hour outside of New York City (and sadly about three hours from my house) - the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile.
When I plan trips, I’m always trying to find the best places where regulars hang out and where we can purchase some local food and drink. Gardiner Liquid Mercantile is apparently the hotspot for foodies in the Hudson River Valley. I was initially drawn to it because the establishment sold craft beer, ciders, wine and local alcohol from the area along with a menu of local foods. Just my kind of place.
The bar and mercantile shop is on the main street of the small town of Gardiner. A fully renovated hundred year old home, it is light and airy with high windows and colorful artwork. The shop is up front and the bar is in the rear. We were just two of a few customers, being mid-afternoon. The atmosphere is extremely casual and welcoming...drinks are presented in mismatched glassware, purchased at yard sales, along with a collection of Looney Tunes glasses. Free popcorn is provided for snacking and the bartenders are amiable and friendly. The cocktail list is extensive and changes frequently. However, you don’t even have to order off the list. The bartenders are true artists. They shared pictures of their own homemade shrubs, syrups and bitters. They salivated over the freshest ingredients. Their love for what they did was contagious. Whenever anyone ordered a drink at the bar, they made a little extra and poured everyone a sample. They asked what we like to drink and designed cocktails around it. I had an incredible old fashioned and a smoky s’mores cocktail. Drinks were made with homemade mixers and local bitters. The food was fresh and perfect for sharing.
I know there are many bartenders who can make a heavenly cocktail or produce their own syrups and bitters. Not only can the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile do that, but they’ve created such a cozy and warm space with no pretense, where everyone is truly welcome to relax and enjoy world class drinks, without the world class prices. The Hudson River Valley makes for an ideal weekend getaway - the excellent ciders, wineries and distilleries and the chefs from the Culinary Institute of America that populate the region are enough to keep any foodie busy for weeks. Even without the draw of all of those delicacies, the Gardiner Liquid Mercantile alone is enough of a reason to make the trip.