Amid a global pandemic, Tinker Street Tavern in Woodstock, NY defied all odds and opened in July 2021. The historic property was once owned by Albert Grossman — who managed Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin and Todd Rundgren to name a few.
Paying homage to its musical roots, Tinker Street Tavern keeps a busy calendar of music and events. Aesthetes will find the space delightful; not a single opportunity to pay homage to the bar’s musical history was missed.
We caught up with co-owners Sal Fristensky and Carly Casciaro, roughly a year after they opened, to chat about Woodstock’s newest watering hole.
Visit Tinker Street Tavern, open 7 days a week at 297 Tinker St, Woodstock, NY 12498.
In 50 words or less, tell me everything I need to know about Tinker Street Tavern.
Carly Casciaro (CC): It’s comfortable, reliable, always there for you. Like a favorite pair of jeans.
We’re open 7 days a week with a great selection and knowledgeable staff. We have something for everyone. Indoor & outdoor spaces, fire pit. Our food menu is simple yet delicious, and we serve later than anywhere else in town.
The decor is classic dive bar meets Woodstock, with lots of music paraphernalia. Who designed your space? Any specific inspiration? Any custom pieces?
Sal Fristensky: Carly and I designed the space. The inspiration came from the space itself. A historic house on an iconic property. We wanted to capture the feel of a classic casual tavern but also pay homage to the musical roots of Woodstock and the history of the property.
A velvet painting of Levon Helm hangs beside the jukebox at Tinker Street Tavern. The artist, Leslie Brown, also painted a portrait of Willie Nelson that hangs in Brooklyn bar Skinny Dennis.
In a kind-of-expensive, more touristy town, why go dive bar vs. something more upscale?
SF: The dive bar is the great equalizer. We want everyone to feel welcome and be able to enjoy our tavern and patio. We love to be able to serve both locals and tourists. There’s a price point for everyone. Whether you want a cheap large pour of draft beer, a cheap can, high-end craft can or draft, curated cocktail, boutique whiskey or a jack and coke, we got you.
Sal, your Brooklyn bars (Lucky Dog, Do or Dive, Skinny Dog, Horses and Divorces, etc etc.) are legendary. In what ways are the Brooklyn bars and Tinker Street Tavern the same? In what way are they different?
SF: Our core values are the same. Vibe is everything. Lighting, music, ambiance, friendly bartenders, affordable drinks. We took that concept upstate and instead of occupying a commercial storefront in the city – to a beautiful colonial house, with two giant bluestone patios, overlooking the Sawkill Creek.
The expansive outdoor area of Tinker Street Tavern includes two large bluestone patios, one overlooking the Sawkill Creek in Woodstock.
Carly, what’s your background? You’re Woodstock local, right? How did you meet this bar guy from Brooklyn, and decide to open a bar together?
CC: Yes, I’m a Woodstock native. Born & raised, I’ve been working in bars for the past 17 years. I was working as the beverage director at a local bar when I met Sal. We quickly bonded over our love of classic cocktails and sarcastic quips and became friends. Years later when I was ready to move on and he was ready to open something upstate, he asked if I’d be interested in partnering up. It was kind of a natural progression.
What’s inspiring your food menu? Any personal menu favorites?
CC: Our food menu is mostly chef driven. We wanted tavern fare but done really well, sourced as locally as possible. Sometimes you just want a great burger; we have that for you. The fried chicken sandwich is probably my favorite menu item, but the house smoked pulled pork is definitely a close second.
A large scope of food & beverages available at Tinker Street Tavern. Photo 1 by Escape Brooklyn; photos 2-3 c/o Tinker Street Tavern.
Tell me about the beverage menu — and what’s your go-to drink?
CC: We have a really solid selection of local and non local crafts beers and spirits, as well as a good collection of classics. We have a few beers on draft that are brewed exclusively for us and a draft cocktail program where we fresh batch and keg our own cocktails. We usually have a margarita, a classic and a tiki cocktail available on draft, as well as a full curated menu of to order cocktails.
My go-to, which has sort of become our house favorite, is a “ranch water:” Topo Chico, tequila & lime.
What’s your event/music programming currently like?
CC: We have a pretty awesome mix of music coming through. Super eclectic, we don’t stick to one genre. Our booking agent does a great job finding us some really great acts. A lot of musicians reach out too, after a couple years of not being able to gig they are ready to perform again.
Our karaoke night has definitely become a fan favorite. We host one the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month and it’s always so much fun. (Note: you can check the event schedule here.)
Woodstock native and Tinker Street Tavern co-owner Carly Casciaro, paired up with Sal Fristensky of Brooklyn, after working in the industry for 17 years at other bars & restaurants.
Last question: pretend for one minute that you’re somehow not working on the weekend. Describe a perfect day: what do you do, where do you eat and drink?
SF: I would start my day with an aperitif after I’ve had copious amounts of espresso. American cocktail, aperol spritz, then a negroni. I like to sit at bars and have apps. Red wine, meats , cheese little salad. Happy hour at a favorite dive bar and play the jukebox . Early bird dinner at 6pm, and be in bed by 8!
CC: Definitely, start my day with an iced double espresso, shortly followed by an aperol spritz. Preferably poolside. Then outside at a local brewery for lunch and drinks with friends & family. They usually have great food trucks or pop ups; lobster rolls, oysters, tacos. Home for a nap. Shower and out to dinner & drinks. Start with a tequila or mezcal cocktail then, sancere or rosè. Seafood, shellfish, pasta. Amaro & espresso. Favorite dive bar for a nightcap. In bed by 11.