Despite opening just days before the COVID-19 shutdown, Peekskill’s Whiskey River is already garnering loyal regulars. Located in the former McDonald & Peacock Cider House space, the restaurant had its soft opening on March 12. “[We had] three solid days before the governor closed all the restaurants,” says co-owner Cynthia Del Rosario.
This is the first restaurant for Del Rosario, who also owns an advertising agency, and her husband, Pat Neville, a retired member of the military and FDNY, but you’d never know it from Whiskey River’s quick pivot to carry-out.
The menu is purposefully small, and dishes change frequently. “People think this is our COVID menu,” says bartender and chef Ashley Lurie, who was previously chef-owner at Harrison’s now-closed Sauce Box. A mezze platter, veal bratwurst, and a smoked, pulled chicken sandwich with chimichurri might be on the menu one week, followed by spicy Asian chicken soup and pork bao buns the next.
There are, of course, a few house specialties. Wings are brined, baked, and then fried, before being tossed in truffle-Buffalo, garlic-Parmesan, blueberry BBQ, or Asian sticky sauce. Seared ahi tacos come with tropical salsa and spicy mayo. Empanadas, with fillings like spicy pepperoni, mozzarella, and Mike’s Hot Honey, change weekly.
The Up the River Burger is a contender for Westchester’s best. A double-double, with quarter-pound beef patties and American cheese, this beast is served on a toasted brioche bun with extra-thick slabs of candied bacon, beer cheese, crispy fried shallots, and Sriracha aioli, alongside house-cut salt-and-pepper fries or broccoli salad.
Behind the bar, Lurie puts her award-winning bartending skills to good use. The cocktail menu is wildly creative: The prickly pear margarita, served in a 16-ounce zip-top freezer pouch, is reminiscent of an adult Capri Sun. Cocktail Kits, which serve two, come with medicinal bottles of spirits and all the garnishes you need to make a Painkiller, coffee-spiked Black Manhattan, or “Filthy A.F. Martini.” A custom, 18-beer tap system pours domestic and craft brews, and eight shelves are dedicated to domestic and imported whiskies.
With its location on North Divison Street, Peekskill’s restaurant row — which is now closed to pedestrian traffic — and a community that “is hungry, figuratively and literally,” according to Del Rosario, the future is looking bright for this newcomer.
Open Wed–Sat, noon–8 p.m.
Sun, noon–7 p.m.
38 N Division St, Peekskill. 914.293.7550. www.whiskeyriverny.com