Under the soft, golden glow of vintage light fixtures, my evening at Goodnight Kenny in Poughkeepsie, NY unfolded like a spirited tale from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, but with an irresistibly vibrant, modern twist. This Hudson Valley gem, suggested by my friend and fellow visual storyteller Rebecca, promised a memorable chapter in our journey of exploring and capturing the heart of bars and restaurants through our lenses.
As we walked through the door, my eyes were immediately drawn to the way the candlelight danced—its reflections waltzing gracefully in the glasses and drinks that adorned the tables. It was a photographer’s playground; a scene aching to be immortalized through a lens, and I was all too eager to oblige. My husband, Dino, an equal partner in my adventures, and my trusty muse, joined us on this excursion.
The night began with Rebecca’s choice, a Manhattan. It was as classic and sophisticated as the city it’s named after, but with a twist that was purely Goodnight Kenny. The Carpano Antica Vermouth mingled harmoniously with the Rye and Angostura Bitters, and a Black Cherry offered the finishing touch, appearing in photos as a dark jewel against the rich amber liquid.
I, on the other hand, opted for the Hemingway Daiquiri. The Rum, effervescent and bold, was sweetened by the Grapefruit Cordial and Lime, while the Luxardo Maraschino whispered secrets of Italian orchards. Ready for the photoshoot, the drink was a lively character itself, its colors painting a vibrant portrait against the dimmed ambiance of the bar.
Dino, as usual, was drawn to a martini—but not just any martini. The Dirty Pickle Martini was his choice, a playful concoction of Tito’s Vodka, House Pickle Juice, and a Pickle. As a pickle lover, I couldn’t resist stealing a sip; it was, in a word, delightful—a zesty dance of flavors that I captured in a candid shot, Dino’s eyes sparkling as brightly as the glass in his hand.
The first round of drinks was accompanied by a Hot Pretzel, golden and gleaming like a sun in our constellation of treats. The mustard was the perfect tangy counterpart, both to the pretzel and in our photographs, where it shined like a dollop of golden sunlight.
Our expert bartender, sensing our love for both cocktails and capturing them, let us in on a secret—a drink you won’t find printed on any menu. “That’s so Chelsea,” he called it, and it was as vibrant and layered as the New York neighborhood itself. The Lillet Blanc, Elder Flower Liquor, and Lemon mingled to create a foundation of citrusy orange layers at the bottom of the glass. A passion fruit note sang a tropical tune that was effervescently elevated by the Club Soda. Crowned with an Empress Gin Float, the cocktail presented a clear, majestic purple layer—a hue that photographs dream of capturing, fresh mint leaves offering the perfect, lively contrast.
In the heart of Goodnight Kenny, the art of cocktail making is celebrated with the reverence of a master painting a canvas. Every shake and stir by the skilled bartenders is a deliberate stroke, each ingredient a carefully chosen hue, blending seamlessly into the next. Watching them at work is akin to witnessing a live art performance, where spirits and mixers are the medium. The precision in the measure of Lillet Blanc, the fluid grace with which the Elder Flower Liquor is poured, and the flourish of fresh mint as the finishing touch—it’s a captivating dance that’s executed with both science and style.
The result? A masterpiece in a glass. Every cocktail tells a story, every sip an exploration into the imagination and creativity of the artist behind the bar. This celebration of craft, both visually stunning and tastefully complex, is a reminder that cocktail making at Goodnight Kenny is not just a service—it’s an experience, a shared moment between the bartender and the guest, a true art form.
As we savored our drinks, I couldn’t help but feel the community spirit of Goodnight Kenny. It’s not just a bar; it’s a neighborhood gathering, a place where the ambiance is as warm and inviting as an old friend’s living room. The dim lighting and speakeasy vibes—crafted not only in the drinks but the very walls and décor—were an open invitation for a chill night out, encouraging whispered conversations among friends old and new.
In the heart of the beautiful Hudson Valley, Goodnight Kenny was not just a stop on our journey, but a delightful story unto itself. From the lively reflections in each lovingly crafted drink to the vibrant and inclusive crowd it draws, this bar is a warm, enchanting embrace—a true photographic and experiential gem that beckons for the next round, and the next frame.
But the story doesn’t end here. Venture with me further into the picturesque landscape of the Hudson Valley and the tranquil hideaways of the Catskills as I continue my gastronomic journey through these captivating regions. From farm-to-table feasts that celebrate the rich bounty of the land, to hipster coffee shops where the brew is as strong as the community spirit, my lens captures it all. Craving craft beer in a rustic Catskills taproom, or pining for artisanal cheese in a chic Hudson Valley wine bar?
I’ve traversed these scenic roads and sipped and savored it all, just for you. Let my reviews guide you to your next culinary adventure, one frame and one flavor at a time. Discover vibrant vegan eateries, historic inns with modern twists, and waterfront dining where the views compete with the menu for your attention. Ready for a journey your taste buds won’t forget? Follow my trail and explore the delicious and the picturesque, right here in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. Cheers to scenic sips, fabulous bites, and unforgettable nights!