What to know about drinks at the Poughkeepsie Bar

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Davina Thomasula has always dreamed of opening her own bar.

After being a bartender in New York for 15 years, she was able to make that dream a reality. Thomasula opened Goodnight Kenny on Academy Street in Poughkeepsie on October 28. Named after her musician father, Thomasula and co-owner Megan Giometti, who owns three bars in New York City, want it to be the neighborhood bar.

“I want everyone to feel like family; that’s the vibe,” Thomasula said. “We do our versions of classic cocktails, but it’s still the kind of bar where you can order a vodka soda or a Jack and Coke, a beer or a shot. But you can also have a good classic cocktail.”

Goodnight Kenny’s cocktail menu features a mix of classics and others the owners have put their own spin on. Take the Bee Sting for example: it’s a classic Bees Knees cocktail where the usual honey is replaced with Mike’s Hot Honey, a chili-infused honey.

Or the Dirty Pickle Martini: a vodka martini with a spicy pickle brine and pickle garnish. Goodnight Kenny also offers pickleback shots, which combine bourbon and pickle juice.

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A dirty pickle martini at the bar at Goodnight Kenny Bar in the town of Poughkeepsie, NY on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

“We use pickle juice everywhere,” Thomasula said. “Some people can’t believe we have pickles and shots of Jell-O.”

Jell-O shots, called Wiggles at Goodnight Kenny, will be served in different flavors throughout the year; right now they offer a French 75 or Cosmopolitan Wiggle.

Customers can still get a classic Old Fashioned or Paper Airplane, which is made with bourbon, Aperol, amaro, and lemon, or they can stick with beer and wine. In the winter, they’ll find hot cider served in second-hand mugs with things like “I heart grandma” printed on them. Or you can treat yourself to a drink named after a former first lady of the United States.

The Goodnight Kenny Bar in the town of Poughkeepsie, NY on Thursday, November 10, 2022. KELLY MARSH/FOR THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL

A bar steeped in history

Thomasula learned that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used to have a drink at the bar in the 1940s when it was The Ritz. In his honor, Goodnight Kenny offers “Good Enough For Eleanor”, a drink made with vodka, grapefruit cordial and sparkling wine.

After its days as The Ritz, the bar saw new life in the 90s as Slim’s Lounge. Since the salon closed, it has stood vacant, almost frozen in time, before Thomasula and Giometti signed a lease for the space in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It hadn’t been touched in years; it literally looked like a bar someone walked out of in the 90s and never came back to,” Thomasula said.

While Thomasula and her team couldn’t salvage everything in the bar, a piece of the Ritz lives on in Goodnight Kenny: the Art Deco white bar backdrop with shelves and mirror, which Thomasula painted and restored to make it a focal point in space.

Assorted family photos adorn the wall of Goodnight Kenny Bar in the town of Poughkeepsie, NY on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

Find your identity

“The fun thing about this bar is that it creates its own identity,” Thomasula said. “We didn’t plan to do the photos or the mugs. I think it’s growing in itself. We want it to be the neighborhood bar, and then we kind of let the neighborhood create what he will become.”

The eclectic bar, painted a soothing green with a touch of white and dark wood, has touches of personality throughout, like the mermaid-shaped buoy turned into art in the back and the pale pink corner cabin next to it. . A disco ball hangs in the back corner, while a collection of photos in second-hand frames greet customers as they enter.

The photo collection is what Thomasula and Giometti describe as family “gems,” featuring clients and friends. It all started when Giometti’s friends brought in a photo of her wearing an eye patch, surrounded by her family.

“I said ‘it’s so much fun, we should invite people to do it,'” Thomasula said. “Everyone brings me pictures, it’s so cool!”

The bar’s namesake, her father Kenny, with Thomasula as a child, combing his beard is also on the wall.

What you won’t find is a TV on site, as Thomasula, who was looking for a smaller, more intimate space for her bar, wants patrons to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the space.

The article continues after the photo gallery.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Thomasula said. “I had a lot of fun with it. It’s exactly what I wanted. I think just having the open space and it’s real and people are responding really well, it feels really good.”

For now, Goodnight Kenny is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 5 p.m. to midnight. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday. However, Thomasula said hours are likely to change as more bartenders are hired and the goal is to be open seven days a week.

To learn more and follow Goodnight Kenny’s updates, keep an eye on his website, goodnightkenny.com, Instagram, instagram.com/goodnightkenny or his Facebook page.

Heather Clark covers Mid Hudson Valley cuisine and restaurants for the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Middletown Times Herald-Record. Contact her at [email protected]


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