How does Bar Henry, a recently opened restaurant in New York’s West Village, manage to rotate their wine list so frequently?
Bar Henry in New York's West Village
They have around 100 bottles available on their market list (and countless more on their reserve list). A standard selection of by the glass offerings are available at all times. The fun is in the restaurant’s “wine specials” board, located on a huge mirror across from the bar. This menu of by the glass offerings is constantly in flux. On one evening you can snag a glass of Sonoma Pinot Noir. On the next night, this will be replaced by a spicy Spanish Rioja.
How do they keep the by the glass offerings so varied? By essentially letting the customers decide which bottles make their way to the board.
Bar Henry sells their Market List by the half bottle as well as the full bottle. When a customer decides they want half the bottle of the ’98 Chianti, the other half goes up on their specials board. The rest of the patrons then have the chance to order away until the bottle runs dry.
The constant updates create a bit of a challenge for the bar staff. They have to regularly update the mirrored board as wines become available throughout service. They also have to cross off any that are sold out (and some options are snapped up seconds after they make their way to the board). Bartender Patrick Costigan described a lively bar scene, with patrons getting excited by the list changes. If he’s too busy, he hands the white pen to a customer and they do the honor of updating the board.
On an ideal night, the customers get to sample a lot of different wines and Bar Henry is left with a lot of empty wine bottles. Other wine bars are sure to follow suit.
Bar Henry is located at 90 West Houston Street if you want to stop by and see what’s on the board.
James Mulcahy writes about spirits and New York nightlife at NYBarfly.com.