Whether upscale, sports-centric, or of the dive variety, Kingston has no shortage of great bars. For the last year or so, a particularly cozy option has slotted into historic Uptown. Rough Draft Bar & Books is the Hudson Valley’s second bookstore bar, inviting visitors to its shelf-lined stone walls to drink coffee, peruse an offbeat selection of titles, and sample the many craft beers on tap.
A literary bar requires literary bartenders, and Kingston native Tess Dixon has been serving beers and books for the last year. Dixon grew up reading and listening to her mother read stories, “so when I saw this was opening,” she explains, “I knew I had to work there.” Where a regular bartender might recommend a particular cocktail or dish, Dixon and her colleagues try to respond to the literary proclivities of drinkers. “They’ll give me a genre or authors that they like, or even a TV show based on a book, and I’ll steer them in that direction.” Her recent picks include a novel by Celeste Ng and nonfiction from Scott Jurek.
Tessa Dixon mans the bar at Rough Draft / Photo courtesy of venue
Sidle up to the bar at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale — the region’s original bookbar — and you might hear chit-chat about the latest bestsellers, or discussion of a work whose author is dropping by later in the week for a reading. “Being surrounded by an excellent set of books inspires great conversations,” says Rachel Drozdowicz, bartender at this Hudson hotspot. For instance, recent months have seen an overabundance of druggy titles, with books on psychedelics by Tao Lin and Michael Pollan flying off the shelves of both establishments.
These scholarly spots have become two of the region’s homiest drinking holes, beloved by locals, craft beer tourists, and writers alike. But really, is this a surprise? “Beer pairs well with any book,” says Drozdowicz. “Rosé goes best with poetry.”
Rough Draft photo courtesy of venue