A couple of months ago, we told you that the Alewife team planned to cross the East River and put down roots in the Upper East Side at a forthcoming spot called The Jeffrey (311 East 60th Street, 212-355-2337). The beer bar, growler shop, and coffee-monger was then slated to open at the beginning of August–but the debut was delayed several times.
Partners Patrick Donagher and Andy Freedman finally went into soft opening mode on September 20, and The Jeffrey makes its official entrance this weekend.
Blame the delay on construction, says Freedman: “The space was a pet kennel before this. It took us a year to build out.” And even more time to acquire final permits. The guys are now ready to unveil their two storefront space, which will offer up espresso from Brooklyn Roasting Company, provisions like pickles and beef jerky, and growlers during the day, and a comprehensive roster of beverages plus bar bites at night.
That’s a mix that they thought was missing from the Upper East Side, a neighborhood they chose to enter for a slew of reasons. “We’re between the neighborhood, the subway, and businesses in the area,” Freedman explains. “We thought people would come in from all of those places. Selfishly, I live five blocks away. And Patrick cut his teeth opening destination bars. He puts together good beers on tap, and by virtue of what’s on the list, people will travel for it.” It also helped that a third business partner owns the building where The Jeffrey is located, which means an ambitious build-out was more palatable, since the guys are less worried about eventually losing their lease.
And he’s right that people will almost certainly travel for this beer: Donagher has a long history in the beer world, and as at Alewife, he’s put together a diverse list of esoteric brews from New York and beyond. A number of selections from Evil Twin made the opening draft list–including the low alcohol Bikini Beer and the Yang, an imperial IPA–along with Barrier’s Vermillion and Sixpoint’s Otis, pouring on one of the bar’s two nitro taps (the other is currently occupied by Oskar Blues’ Old Chub). He’s also got Cantillon in bottle, a number of hard-to-find west coast beers, and a keg of a recent Cigar City release coming this weekend. And the list will continue to get geekier, says Freedman, once the doors are really open.
Those beers pour from 24 taps on the bar side and an additional 12 taps on the growler shop side, though the latter will transform into a cocktail bar at night, entered through the bar side (rather than the growler shop’s front door, open during the day) to create more intimacy.
Freedman is emphatic that The Jeffrey’s beverage options aren’t just about beer, and the partners have worked hard to implement the same level of quality in the rest of the list. They’ve installed a pair of whiskey taps that will pour a bacon-infused bourbon and a smokier whiskey, and they’ve put together a concise wine list that includes tapped offerings from the Scholium Project and Red Hook Winery, a handful of organic reds and whites, and orange wine from Croatia.
The partners brought on Michael Haigh, who did time at the Vanderbilt, to put together the food menu, a list that will expand as the kitchen is finished and more fully equipped. Current highlights include dried sriracha peas, boiled peanuts, pickled eggs, and a roast beef sandwich griddled with maple cheddar. Haigh’s housemade pickles will also go into jars for takeaway at the growler shop.
The best place to post up at The Jeffrey may very well be the backyard; the beer garden will be open year round, eventually relying on heat lamps to keep it comfortable. The partners are working with the neighboring bike shop to annex more outdoor space, so look for an expansion back there, too.
And while it’s certainly a relief to finally get this spot open, Freedman and Donagher will have no time to rest once they’re fully up and running. The guys teamed up with Idle Hands for Fools Gold, a new bar on Houston that should be ready to go by early November. After that, they’ll work on Abbey Lane, another craft beer mecca they’re plotting in Hell’s Kitchen (though they won’t divulge the address just yet), and installing a brewery at Alewife.
In the meantime, The Jeffrey will host a pig roast opening party on Saturday that beer geeks, in particular, won’t want to miss: The bar will pour something that’s nearly impossible to get here in New York state. We’ve promised not to name it, but suffice it to say that you’re not going to find this coveted brew anywhere else in town. Festivities start at 3 p.m.
Hit the next pages for a few photos of the space and food.
Shots of food and the menu up next.