Among the businesses on Warren Street in Hudson is Hudson Sisters, a small purveyor of homewares, lovely handbags and stylish jewelry. Peek through the open shelf that forms the back wall of the shop and you might be surprised to find Bar Benean elegant mid-century modern style wine bar serving carefully selected wines and small plates worthy of any aperitif in Italy.
Aligning with the quirky and distinctive vibe of this riverside town, Bar Bene has two unusual entrances: you either have to walk through the shop or walk down a brick lane a few doors down to reach the back entrance of the bar.
A sandwich board outside Bar Bene recently summed up the bar in a few ironic words:
Business up front
Party in the back.
We are the mule of wine bars.
“It’s always been my dream to do something like this,” says Marie Wong, who opened Bar Bene and Sisters Hudson (run by her sister, Jenny Homer) in August 2021. “I’ve always loved wine bars , especially in Italy where people visit wine bars for a glass of wine and a small plate of something to eat before dinner I fell in love with Rome in my early 20s I wanted the bar has an Italian name, and Bar Bene (good bar) just seemed light and fun, just the way I wanted it to be.
The ‘secret’ alley entrance leads to a large outdoor patio with wrought iron chairs and coffee tables as well as a back entrance to Bar Bene. “The speakeasy format wasn’t planned, but we love it,” says Wong. “It was an organic design that originated when we were working on the building. Now people can shop and sip!
Wong’s foray into Hudson happened by accident. “I didn’t know Hudson at all; I lived in New York and was traveling upstate and stopped for coffee, and fell in love with it,” says Wong, who had worked at a supper club years ago, but otherwise worked in the corporate sector. “I researched the area and it all went from there. I had my dream, and now I knew just where I wanted it to happen.
To help bring her vision to life, Wong enlisted her friend Alison Sideris, a Chicago set designer who’s worked on shows like HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” “I knew I wanted a mid-century modern look: warm, comfortable, lounge,” says Wong. The duo pulled it off: colorful, curvy armchairs flank a fireplace and walls that are all painted in the same moody teal hue, taken from Wong’s favorite Helen Frankenthaler artwork. Burnt orange upholstered bar stools invite seating at the long bar, which is topped with leather quartzite.
With the decor in place, Wong began planning the wine list. Fortunately, she had an excellent source in bar manager/sommelier Eric Hill. “I met Eric after I bought the building – he worked at Wine Spectator in New York and I was a member there,” Wong explains. “Then COVID hit, and he ended up in Kingston. At that time, I was looking for a bar manager and a sommelier. It was kismet; I couldn’t do any of this without him. Hill curates a thoughtful, Euro-centric wine list. “He regularly changes most of our offerings,” Wong says. “He is looking for smaller vineyards in Europe, Australia and the California wine region. And we will only get a few cases of a particular wine. We like to keep it moving.
Bar Bene offers 22 selections by the glass, from a French Malbec from Georges Vigoruoux ($13) to a South African Sauvignon Blanc from Ntskiki Biyela ($14); by the bottle, you’ll find 21 European, Australian and Californian choices, including a 2018 Portuguese Alvarinho ($42) and a French Pinot Noir from Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot ($98).
Subtle symbols following some of the wines on the list indicate which vintages are sustainable, biodynamic, vegan, or organic, and Hill is happy to educate visitors on the importance of these methods in viticulture.
Complementing these sips, Bar Bene serves snacks and small bites. Cheese plates (single cheese boards, $8, or a selection of three cheeses for $22) have choices like Coperthwaite from Churchtown Dairy in Hudson and an aged Alpine from Hawthorne Valley Creamery in Ghent. Charcuterie, like prosciutto di Parma, and country pie from Cheval Farmstead & Dairy in Hudson can be ordered singly ($8) or in threes ($22) or order a full charcuterie and cheese platter for $42. Small plates include lemon hummus with bread chips ($8) and a plate of barrel-aged feta with marinated artichokes, black olive tapenade and fire-roasted red pepper ($12). If you have a sweet tooth, try the affogato ($7) with vanilla ice cream from Sleepy Hollow’s Artigiani Del Gelato.
Like the wine list, the menu is often renewed. “We had chili for the winter season,” says Wong. “We are going to do a caviar and champagne pairing in the spring.”
Look for trivial parties on Mondays, hosted by Hill, and don’t hesitate to bring your best furry friend, encourages Wong. “The bar is fun, cozy; people bring their dogs and hang around,” she says. “A lot of people in Hudson own dogs and they are happy to be able to bring them to Bar Bene, especially outside.”
The hidden bar is no longer a secret, and Wong couldn’t be happier. “People know us best through word of mouth,” she says. “Just last week, a couple from Brooklyn told us that they heard about Bar Bene when they were in Brooklyn and had to try us when they visited Hudson. That’s all I could hope for. »
538 Warren Street, Hudson
Opening hours: Monday and Thursday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.