Cai Palmer, a Norwalk man who owns the Wine at Five in Rye, N.Y., has taken his vinology skills to another level with the opening of The Red Pony.
The new Purchase Street wine bar, open since late December, has been a longtime dream. "I've always wanted to have a European-style wine bar where you can sit with friends, have a nice glass of wine without a TV screaming a sports game at you, and not have the commitment of a full dinner," he said.
Moving his wine shop next to the bar, at 1 Elm St. (it had previously been down the street), also gives the two places "a nice synergy." So, if you like what you're drinking at The Red Pony, you can buy it next door at Wine at Five.
"Tha't's the hope," said the Norwalk, Conn. resident.
So far, so good. The Red Pony's General Manager Clark Moore said the bar, with a combination of high-top tables, a sofa, bar seating and expansive windows, has been "nonstop busy" since its Dec. 22 opening.
He credits the interest in the thoughtfulness put behind every glass. The wine bar's focus is small- production, responsibly produced wines, spirits, and beer from all corners of the world.
While "that may sound more serious than it is," Moore stressed that he and his team are going to bring in whatever they think is tastiest and most fun.
Guests can expect vintages they may never have tried or heard of as well as wines that are "comforting."
"We certainly have enough variety to keep people interested and compelled," stressed Moore.
There will also be "Clarktails," a specialty of the longtime mixologist (he was previously at Harper's on Main in Dobbs Ferry and Juniper in Hastings).
"As ever, we're focused on seasonal ingredients and themes," said Moore. "We have a rye cocktail on now -- how could we not have a cocktail with rye? -- with a cranberry/orange shrub and pine. We also have one with Spanish Reserva brandy, vanilla, sherry, and Islay Scotch, which has been a popular winter warmer.
"Assuredly, I will always keep things interesting here cocktail-wise."
As for food, there is a well-curated selection of cheeses and charcuterie -- at least six or seven in various styles. Come soon and you'll find a French triple creme laced with black truffle, a semi-soft Spanish goat and a butterscotchy Romano from Italy, among others, as well as plates of dry-cured meats (Serrano ham, speck, salumi, and Iberico).
There are 14 wines by the glass — three sparkling, a rose, and an orange wine (a white that is produced with skin contact yielding exotic flavors, tannins, and an orange color). Coming soon: A comprehensive bottle list of some higher tiered vintages.
Moore also makes fresh juices and syrups for all of the house and classic cocktails and is "extremely proud of our spirits selection, which, as with our wines, are made by smaller craft distillers who we believe in and whose products we love."
The Red Pony, which accommodates roughly 50 guests, is open seven days a week, from noon till "late," with the exception of Mondays when they open at 5 p.m.
"People have been surprised we're open in the afternoons," said Moore. "We encourage people to come in for cappuccino, cheese, and charcuterie for lunch. And wine too!"
The Red Pony is at 53 Purchase St., Rye, 914-481-4220.
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