Without a doubt, my favorite part of this pandemic is the availability of cocktails to go. I’m sure it says something about me as a person (like too many nights drinking Miller nips in the field as a teenager?) but I love strolling around with a well mixed drink in my hand. It just feels like I’m on vacation – or 16 again. Either way, I like it.
And I’m not the only one. There’s even a name for it – walktail. Isn’t that adorable?
In recent weeks, I’ve indulged in to-go cocktails from a number of places, including El Loco, Dove & Deer, Ale & Oyster and Nine-Pin. Truthfully, I’m more a wine and cider girl, but I won’t turn down a quality tequila cocktail or a cold weis bier, especially on a hot day when the sun is shining.
During the pandemic NYS’ State Liquor Authority (SLA) has modified regulations, at least through June 27, 2020, to a more permissible level to help struggling hospitality businesses. The softening of typical restrictions may be extended, but, as with anything with NYS, it’s hard to predict. Let’s enjoy it while we can, friends.
Of the businesses I’ve frequented, it seems there are different rules in place which reflect their specific type of liquor license. For instance, to get margaritas to go from El Loco one must also order food. Fortunately, a bag of tortilla chips is considered food, a fact that validates my favorite college meal of nachos as being legit.
Ale & Oyster didn’t require me to purchase food when I scored a delicious white sangria and a couple of beers to go. I’m assuming that since they have a license which enables them to operate as a “package store,” they can duck that rule. It would not have been a hardship to add a few items from their curbside food cart, though. Yum, raw bar!
When I stopped down at Nine-Pin recently it was just for a limited edition 4-pack to go. Next time, however, I plan to grab a table and hang out for awhile, maybe even have some pizza. As long as I’m down that way, may as well time my visit to catch a match at the finally reopened Biergarten, which is actually accepting reservations for parties of 8+. We’re in the midst of a spectacular stretch of weather and being outdoors is where it’s at – and I can ride my bike there!
I can’t begin to tell you how great it was last week to sit down at the newly expanded sidewalk patio of Dove & Deer. I’d already enjoyed a takeaway cocktail, but actually sitting down, having a bite to eat and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (specially priced at $20!) was an incredible treat. Albany has shown real flexibility and support to the hospitality industry by allowing businesses to use previously unavailable sidewalk space to maximize capacity while maintaining safe social distancing.
Speaking of which, I am so excited about something new happening on Lark Street. Word on the street (and radio!) is that there’s a proposal to close blocks of Albany’s “Greenwich Village” to vehicular traffic from Friday evenings through Saturday night to allow restaurants to utilize the entire sidewalk for table seating. Pedestrians will be shifted to the streets. Finding details about this initiative has proven challenging, but I suspect more information will be forthcoming since the start date of this exciting, but temporary, reimagining of Lark Street may be as soon as Friday, June 26th.
See you on the street.