I’m usually not the kind of person to closely watch the openings and closing of bars, but of late, I’ve been keeping an eagle eye out for the opening of Whiskey Tavern [NOTE: Website not set up right at the moment, but soon???], situated at 79 Baxter Street between Bayard and Walker in Chinatown, as it is just a stone’s throw from the TMA headquarters. Last night I heard that there was some friends and family-type party activity over at the bar, so tonight the BSB and I headed over to see if the space we’ve been waiting for had finally opened, and indeed, it had!
Before the current bar-epreneur brothers George and Justin Ruotolo (also owners of the East Village watering hole Whiskey Town) took over the space, the bar was most recently known as the “Baxter Pub“–aka, that dive next to the bail bond places that was never ever open on weekends or past 5pm on a weekday, except on totally random days for unexplained reasons.
This Chinatown location has been serving up alcoholic brews since the the mid-1940s, so I’m sure it can stand up to ruining the livers of me and all my friends. The space has not completely been refinished–the floor and some of the former owner’s stools still remain–but some awesome booths, a sanded down bar, and a gorgeous backyard garden have me thinking that this place certainly has a chance.
Four flat-screened televisions are situated on the walls, making it the perfect spot for me to hanker down once football season gets started. Beers on tap include Guinness, Smithwick, and Miller Lite. You can find Corona, Bud Lite, Amstel, etc. on bottle and a variety of whiskey (natch). All the better, the bar will be serving up reasonably priced classics like hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, two egg sandwiches (all served with fries), and even a Hostess Cupcake or two, until 12 midnight on weekdays–a godsend for folks in the area who’s only late-night options up to this point have consisted of of eating late night dinners at Wo Hop, or trekking over to Good World on the LES.
Thankfully the place doesn’t have a trendy vibe, but there is a definite cool flair in the “old is new again” kind of way. Tasteful rock selections played over the sound system while we were there (Queens of the Stone Age, T. Rex, The Ramones, etc.) and when the guys sitting next to us ordered a plate of wings, we couldn’t help but notice how delicious they looked.
The garden will be open from 11pm on weekdays, 12 midnight on weekends in accordance with the community board. A full brunch menu is in the works, and according to Thrillist, the space will see the occasional DJ night.
So if you’re down in the ‘hood and need a break from ironic karaoke singing at Winnies, keep my new (and only) neighborhood bar in business and head over to the Whiskey Tavern for some good ol’ times and good ol’ drinks.