All photos by Sabrina Eberhard
For craft cocktails, local beer, and a whole lot of history, try Goodnight Kenny, the new “neighborhood bar” in Dutchess County.
Goodnight Kenny is a cross between a bar and a communal living room for the good people of Poughkeepsie. Stationed in a rapidly growing neighborhood in the Queen City of the Hudson, co-owners Davina Thomasula and Megan Giometti have carefully crafted the swank bar space with three main ingredients: high-quality beverages, “fun personalities behind the bar,” and an easygoing atmosphere that “feels like it’s home.” They’ve even got family photos to prove it.
To be sure, the Goodnight Kenny team had a strong foundation to build upon, as the structure that houses their new bar holds a storied past as a watering hole. “It was a bar and restaurant called The Ritz for about 30 years starting around [the 1940s],” says Thomasula. The son of The Ritz’s former owners once visited Goodnight Kenny and regaled the staff with stories of its history, including a rumor that Eleanor Roosevelt used to stop in for a round or two. Naturally, the bartenders decided to commemorate that tidbit with a specialty cocktail—vodka, grapefruit cordial, and sparkling wine—named after the First Lady. “There is rumor that Eleanor Roosevelt drank champagne punch and ordered liquor from our bar when it was The Ritz a long time ago,” Thomasula explains. Later, in the 90s and aughts, the space served as another bar called Slim’s Lounge. Finally, following a few pandemic-prompted delays, Goodnight Kenny opened its doors on October 28 of last year.
Although much of the bar has been revamped, Thomasula and Giometti salvaged the original bar back remaining from The Ritz. “We kind of designed around that,” says Thomasula, adding, “All we knew was that we wanted a cozy, dark space that felt inviting.” Indeed, with its dark green interior (and exterior to match), disco ball, sturdy stained-wood bar, potted plants, and Art Deco flourishes, Goodnight Kenny teeters the line between fashionable and familiar.
One wall is dedicated to a salon-style arrangement of family photos provided by regulars, imbuing this new bar with a sense of lasting community. The co-owners developed an appreciation for the “neighborhood bar” while bartending together at a local haunt in Union Square. “I spent a ton of years in that space,” Thomasula enthuses. “It encompassed all that a neighborhood bar should be [and] had an amazing industry crew.”
Artful as the atmosphere may be at Goodnight Kenny, it does not upstage the drink menu, which is complete with a mix of classic cocktails and house specialties; local beers and macrobrews; and a terse wine list. The cocktails, otherwise known as “Kenny’s Classics,” are all $13. Staples like the old fashioned, Negroni, and Manhattan are elevated at the hands of John David Baez, Katie Brown, Benjamin Friedman, Deanna O’Neil, and Savannah Wray—the bartenders on Goodnight Kenny’s “tiny but mighty crew,” to use Thomasula’s words. Her personal favorite drink is the “Bee Sting,” made with Barr Hill gin, hot honey, and lemon. Other standout cocktails include the self-explanatory “Dirty Pickle” martini; the “Hemingway” daiquiri comprising rum, grapefruit cordial, lime, and Luxardo Maraschino; and the simple “When Pablo Passes Out,” made with tequila, lime, and agave.
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As for beer, you could play it safe with a Stella or Miller Hi-Life (which, for whatever reason, is really having a moment right now) or go local with a “Juice Bomb” from Sloop, pale ale from Mill House, IPA from West Kill, or brown ale from Newburgh. There’s prosecco, cabernet, sauvignon blanc, rosé, and pinots noir and grigio, all between $9 and $13 per glass. Conversely, you could get right down to the alcohol with the bar’s creative shots; choose from a standard shot (the “Pickleback” mixes bourbon with pickle juice from Kingston’s Rosie General) or a Jell-O shot before you call it a night.
While Goodnight Kenny offers two “snacks” on its menu—a soft pretzel and a Hungry-Man TV dinner—the team encourages customers to bring food from their favorite nearby restaurants instead. And with neighbors like Hudson & Packard and The Academy Food Hall, why wouldn’t they? Patrons can snag a Detroit-style slice or a burger to-go, then enjoy it alongside a boozy beverage at Goodnight Kenny. Other eateries within walking distance include Brasserie 292, Ginza Sushi, and Nelly’s Diner. Or you could totally go with the TV dinner. After a beer and a half, it won’t sound half bad.
Related: What to Eat at The Academy Food Hall in Poughkeepsie
As undeniably Poughkeepsian as Goodnight Kenny may be, its team hopes to expand with a mobile bar as well as a second location “in the next year or so.” Until then, the mobile bar service will bring craft cocktails to the far reaches of the Hudson Valley in style via a vintage 1971 Shasta camper. Kingston is a contender for the location of the new bar, but really, “Who knows?” Thomasula concludes, “Right now, we are just focused on staying consistent and having a ton of fun.”
27 Academy Street, Poughkeepsie
Sunday – Wednesday, 3 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday, 3 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Related: Hudson Valley Restaurant Openings and Closings to Note in 2023