Shine Drinks “Bars, Cocktails, Events & Education”
Historic Local Watering Hole Upgrades to a Gastropub w/ Swag in LINY
I walked (didn’t stumble) into a relic of a neighborhood watering hole in Oceanside, NY in the fall of 2013 for a bar consulting opportunity. My first impression of the bar was “what a gem of a neighborhood dive bar” and why have I never been here before! Although I could see that it needed major upgrades it had a lot of elbow bending mileage on it and felt like there had been many a memories made there. It was held together with duck tape, the smell of fermenting beer, memories and salty regulars drinking Budweiser & bad whiskey. I couldn’t help but think that it has been around for a really long time. In my book this had the makings of a pretty great dive bar experience as it had that old rustic kind of bar feel.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say at first I was a bit skeptical as Long Island, NY is a bit behind the times as far as cocktails are concerned. Yet I was and am very much up for the task and challenge of making that change! I had spoken in brief over the phone with the owner and knew they were interested in a total overhaul and wanted a New York City style cocktail bar. I entered with an open mind ready to listen to help put together a plan.
Johnny’s Union Park Cafe Before Bar Photos
Johnny’s Union Park Cafe Becomes EAT Gastropub
The name of the bar was originally called Johnny Russel’s where local politicians and bootleggers rubbed elbows in the basement speakeasy in it’s early years. The bar ultimately became Union Park Cafe over time and was handed down to Johnny and Scotty Russell by their grandfather who opened it originally in 1933. This bar was a neighborhood staple and the owners basically grew up in the bar and were very much a part of its DNA. It has some incredibly rich history and has been in the same family since just post prohibition and is one of the oldest liquor licensees in the state of NY that is still family owned and operated. This is the kind stuff I live for!
It was decided that the bar was going to undergo a total remodel and overhaul to become a Long Island destination restaurant that was going to “set the bar” for hospitality, food, craft cocktails & craft beer. The owner put together a team of like minded individuals that were the best in their fields to create and bring together the best components of hospitality under one roof in Long Island. I was extremely excited to help give this bar some life by tapping into its rich history and creating a bar and program that is very inviting and approachable for the young bartenders as well as the guests of new and old.
Eat Gastropub Bar Design
The bar was going to be totally gutted and rebuilt to fit the menu and program we were creating. The bar was demoed to a shell with 30′ front bar and a 27′ back bar area working space to work with. Two existing 3 door Low boy front loading coolers and a 3 bay sink were kept as well as one ice bin. As always you should always try to keep and recycle as much equipment you can to help with the budget as well as to keep some original pieces implemented into the new design. We also removed the existing service end and extended the bar to create a 3rd station, a fresh juicing station as well as to add more bar seating.
Cocktail Stations & Design
We created 3 cocktail stations. The two at each end were mirrored with a large deep ice bin with ice separation, a two bay sink for rinse and dump capabilities and a glass freezer for optimal temperature control of the cocktails. The front of each of the 3 stations we custom built speed rail drip trays out of stainless steel that drain into the sink and can be removed easily to clean at the end of the night. The middle station was a smaller version of the book-ending mirrored stations and was built to be used only on very busy nights. We added a soda gun to each station for sodas only during high-volume private events. All cocktails that come over the bar use bottled soda. The bar top itself is one big butcher block that looks incredible.
EAT Gastropub Cocktails & Opening Menu
EGP training and opening menu was based on fundamental classic techniques and recipes. The idea was to build a sound foundation for these young bartenders so they would be able grow and understand how to make cocktails from the ground up. The last thing we wanted to do was just throw them a menu or build a menu for EGO. We live by the idea of building a sound foundation and strong base. We also wanted to pay homage to the bar’s really rich history. Here are the foundation families we trained on: Highballs/ Collins Bucks/ Cobblers, Up Shaken/ Down Shaken/ Sours, Stirred Up Classics/ Stirred Down classics, Fizzes, Fizzy Lifty/ Classic Champagne, Swizzles, Smashes & Modern Classics that helped with the resurrection of a lost Era.
Once the bartenders were trained on our foundation families we moved to the opening menu that fit within the structure of all they had learned so nothing was foreign except for maybe some ingredients they had never heard of before. The techniques, recipes, tools and fundamentals were there so now it was time to implement and unveil the EGP opening cocktail menu. A menu that Long Island, NY has never seen before but very approachable, balanced and delicious. A week long rigorous training on bartending first, cocktails, cocktail history, speed, efficiency and how to be and work your best really panned out. EGP is also a craft beer haven as they carry 24 rotating craft beers on draught as well as 14 by bottle and 6 by can.
We crafted the spirits menu to represent that EGP as serious cocktail bar with some swagger. We balanced out all categories and tried to carry a little bit of something for everyone all while representing the fact that EGP Bar is about good, well made spirits with integrity.
Meet Bar Manager & Head Bartender Chris Breslin Over A Stigi!
Chris Breslin AKA “Brez” is a true bartender inside and out! A man who really enjoys the true essence of having the privilege of being a bartender and serving people day in and day out! Brez has been a bartender for many years and has been looking for the opportunity to further his knowledge and craft and bring it to the next level. EGP with Willy Shine Consulting’s training/ mentorship and his passion has given him that opportunity to take those next steps of taking on more responsibility and learning the business along with the creative side. Brez is a well read student of his craft and follows all the greats globally to keep his finger on the pulse of whats happening in our ever changing and growing Bar/ Hospitality world. Go belly up in front of this veteran barkeep and whether you order a delicious craft beer or craft cocktail made with one of the 3 kinds of ice offered at EGP he will make you feel very much at home!
Address: 2823 Long Beach Road, Oceanside, NY 11572