By Bryan Casey and Sabrina Sucato
What does it take to make something “the best?”
That’s precisely the question the editors of Esquire ask as they traverse the country in search of the most unforgettable watering holes America has to offer. In addition to scoping out delicious drinks, they take into consideration details like atmosphere, décor, and theme to determine what makes a location shine.
The result of that search is Esquire’s “Best Bars in America” feature, a compendium of 27 remarkable bars that, as the editors explain it, are each “a place that you love so much you can’t wait to experience it all over again.”
While Hudson Valley locals would swear that there are multiple bars that meet this high-set standard, Esquire spotlights one much-loved bookstore that stands out in the Valley and the United States.
The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, located in Hudson, is one of 27 bars to make it on Esquire’s list of heavy hitters, which also includes a Star Wars canteen in Orlando and a flashback ‘80s bar in Los Angeles.
So, what makes The Spotty Dog so special? Well, it could be its historic building, which was once a 19th century firehouse. It could also be the fact that the establishment isn’t just a bar, but a bookstore, too, so patrons can enjoy their favorite local brews with a novel in hand. And did we mention the live music and author events that regularly take place (pandemic notwithstanding)?
In its explanation of why The Spotty Dog merits a place on the list, Esquire sums it with a short but sweet description: “If you enjoy nursing a beer with no other company than a novel, this is your place.”
While The Spotty Dog is admittedly an attraction in itself, its location in Hudson makes it doubly appealing as a destination. It resides on Warren Street, which ranks as one of our best Main Streets, and is within walking distance to everything from Malaysian-inspired bites at Backbar to arts and culture at Hudson Hall. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, Hudson remains a vibrant destination, largely thanks to the creativity of local business owners. For The Spotty Dog owner Kelly Drahushuk, for instance, the pandemic meant switching gears to offering book sales online and via curbside pickup and delivery.
Today, the bookstore, which celebrated its 15-year anniversary on June 27, continues to welcomes Hudson Valleyites for curbside pickup and, on occasion, sidewalk shopping. Follow along with @spottydogbooks on Instagram for more details about reopening as they become available.
The Spotty Dog Books & Ale