Cocktails & Refuge
176 Newark Ave.
Photos by Beth DiCara
This establishment appeared on the Newark Ave. bar scene in 2015. Like the name implies, it’s a woody, atmospheric classy night spot—it opens at 5 and stays open ‘til “Late.”
There’s some archery imagery on its logo and a beautiful stag trophy on the wall. In fact, when you walk in, the whole vibe is urban hunting lodge.
Full disclosure: I know co-owner Jesse Weekes from back in the day. He has a journalism background and got his taste for bar-and-restaurant work while bartending at the Madison in Hoboken.
He calls the Archer “cozy and intimate.” The clientele “is a mix,” he says. “It runs the gamut of age groups.”
Cocktail lovers will feel right at home at the Archer, which offers Nikka Whiskey Night, a Tuesday Tasting Series, and mescal tastings. The Wednesday night we visited featured a Workman’s Comp Cocktail Hour offering the Bee’s Knees, with gin, lemon, and honey; daiquiri, with rum, lime, and simple syrup; and classic Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
Vince, the masterly bartender, created three drinks for us to sip and shoot: the Say Hey! a blend of mescal, blanco vermouth, pineapple, lime, cinnamon, and tiki bitters; the Cloak & Dagger, made from Goslings rum, aged rum, lime, and simple syrup; and the Saguaro, a mix of tequila blanca, campari, yellow chartreuse, lemon, vanilla, strawberry, cardamom, and rhubarb bitters.
They were all beautiful to behold and packed a punch. I opted for the North Coast Scrimshaw Pils on draft, a cold, perfectly balanced pilsner in a really nicely designed glass.
Other cocktails include the Penicillin, made with scotch, lemon, honey, and ginger. In warm weather, frozen drinks include the Pearl of La Paz, made with mescal, scotch, pineapple, lime, cinnamon, coconut, campari, and strawberry. Also on the frozen list is The Missionary’s Downfall, a mix of rum, peach liqueur, pineapple, lime, honey, and mint.
Classic cocktails include the Army & Navy, Cool Colonel, Good Fellow, and Jack in the Box.
House specialties feature the Honore Roll, Springbok, and Puesta Del Sol.
The Archer offers an extensive list of some 20 white, sparkling, rose, and red wines. Its beer list is eclectic. On draft are Unibroue a Tout Le Monde, 21st Amendment a Terrible Idea, La Birra di Meni Grava, Bell’s Porter, and Ducato Brett Peat Daydream.
When it comes to victuals, you’ll find a lot of game meats, but the whole hunting theme is diluted a bit by pairing a concept like venison with a concept like cheesesteak. The popular venison cheeseteak features 17 spice onions, tangy relish, deer creek “The Stagg” cheddar, and pretzel baguette.
Photographer Beth DiCara and I sat down to a bowl of duck putine, made from confit, Wisconsin curd, pomme frites, gravy, and a soft boiled duck egg. This signature dish is rich and hearty. Another popular stick-to-your ribs dish is spicy elk meatballs and kale, which comes on a bed of creamy polenta, with piquilo, Tuscan kale, spicy tomato, and goat cheese.
Other “bites” include smoked wild boar shoulder, campfire mac and cheese, duck a l’orange, and duck burgers.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of greens, including a nice green bean and garlic salad, warm mushroom salad, wheatberry tabbouleh, and accompanying sides featuring kale, succotash, brussel sprouts, pickled cucumber, smoked tomato, shallots, arugula, scallions, parsley, and, collard greens.
The Archer bills itself as Cocktails & Refuge. This friendly, intimate watering hole with its knock-em-dead drinks is certainly both.—Kate Rounds