While some parts of Queens are considered up and coming, Forest Hills has been up for decades. With its historic housing, proximity to Forest Park, and commercial success of Metropolitan Avenue and Austin Street, the neighborhood serves as a sign of desirability for young couples and families looking for a laid-back lifestyle within city limits. The legend of the little neighborhood in the shadows of the big city even made its way to pop culture: Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) hangs his tights on 20 Ingram Street when he’s not doing back flipsoff Manhattan skyscrapers.
However, while many elements of the neighborhood retain rustic charm, the established area needed an injection of new life. After all, if someone tells you their grandmother lives in Queens, odds are Forest Hills is where she’s raising hell–and she’s doing it all before a 10 p.m. The wave of craft beer and fine spirit bars that helped transform neighborhoods like Astoria and Long Island City never reached this part of the borough, causing many residents to seek refuge away from home when looking for a night out.
The opportunity to keep residents in the area with the allure of a diverse drink selection did not go unnoticed by Drew Dvorkin and his partners, Chris Giudice and the Elkins brothers, Steve and Michael. The Elkinses grew up in Forest Hills and were very familiar with its makeup. After reflecting on the way new businesses like yoga studios were able to mesh with old-school mom-and-pop shops like the decades-old Eddie’s Sweet Shop, the team began plotting making a memorable impression.
And so they openedForest Hills Station House at 106-11 71st Avenue, a craft beer and whiskey lair that gives residents an excuse to tell their friends: “We’re going out near me for a change.”
The partners built out a casual setting complete with brick and handcrafted furniture, and the television is an afterthought, something to glance at when you’re eyes aren’t focused on the amber liquid filling your glass.
Whiskey and rye dominate the drink list, and a strong selection of Belgian beers, like Delirium Tremens, stock the bar. The bar also has the only cask ale program in the vicinity, the reception of which by patrons “has been a pleasant surprise,” according to Dvorkin. Tasting events like “Belgian v. New York Beer Night,” which took place earlier this month, help attract a crowd who want to learn more about different beer styles. Another unique aspect of the beverage program: Forest Hills Station House’s 16 tap lines are changed daily (bottled beers are rotated after about three months), ensuring that patrons will have a chance to try something new every time they come back.
Like the drink selection, the food menu embraces the diversity of the neighborhood. Poutine, short rib kimchi empanadas, and beer-battered meatballs are all offered on the current list; there’s a dish to pair for any kind of palate.
With brunch service to expected to debut later this summer, the partners hope there’s enough incentive for their neighbors to stay put. “I don’t see why Forest Hills residents need to venture out [of the area] when we’re bringing everything to them,” Dvorkin says.