The Capital Region has officially begun its phased reopening—and for the quarantine-weary, that translates to: “It’s time to celebrate!” Saratoga’s The Night Owl dance club and cocktail bar, though still temporarily closed to nightly revelers, officially relaunched its cocktail takeout and delivery service on May 9, with a special “Drinks and Dreams of Wild Saturdays” happy hour from 6-9pm. And due to popular demand, The Night Owl has decided to expand “Drinks and Dreams,” starting this weekend, to regularly include Fridays, from 5-7pm, as well as, just for Memorial Day weekend, this Sunday and Monday (12-5pm on May 24 and 25).
“It’s been so successful that we’ve been adding new summer cocktails to our menu,” says Alexander Straus, The Night Owl’s manager. “We had this full, lavish summer cocktail menu that we’d planned to roll out on [Kentucky] Derby weekend, which obviously didn’t happen.” Straus says that he’s OK with the delay, because it’s given The Night Owl time to refine its summer cocktail menu, which the club has become well known for.
Speaking of which, this Friday and Saturday “Drinks and Dreams” will feature six cocktail flavors to choose from, including a smooth Espresso Martini (vodka, Death Wish Cold Brew, limoncello and a vanilla liqueur, with a touch of Saint Lawrence Spirits Empire Cream); the Jungle Bird (dark rum, lime, pineapple, Campari and an umbrella garnish); plus the two new additions, a full bottle of Green Tea Shooters (25 shots of green tea served ice cold), or a Frozen Electric Piña Colada (white rum, pineapple, fresh coconut puree, lime zest and a dark rum float, all served in a carafe or fishbowl). Each menu item also includes its own complementary snack; for example, the La Sandía (a watermelon margarita) includes dehydrated watermelon bites.
In addition to the delicious drinks offered for delivery and takeout, The Night Owl is also hosting a live DJ at their location on Maple Avenue during the “Drinks and Dreams” happy hour. “Our regular DJ comes in and spins from 6-9pm, so when people come and pick up their cocktails, they get a little sample of what we’re all missing,” says Straus. The Night Owl also simulcasts the DJ’s set, so people can listen at home while enjoying their beverages, a kind of self-isolation house party with music complements of the local nightclub. According to Straus, people have really been listening, too. “We’ve had between 200-500 people tuning in for each set and catching the vibe,” he says. “If we can’t offer the full meal that is The Night Owl, we try to offer a taste of it.”
Back in early April, The Night Owl first experimented with the to-go format with a takeout cocktail fundraiser for its employees, raising nearly $2,500 for its workers in just a few hours. The success of that happy hour-themed event served as an inspiration for a gradual reopening process with “Wild Saturdays” (and now Fridays). So far, the weekly event has been a big success, and Straus is looking forward to fully opening the club to patrons by mid-June. “We’ve been able to spend these last few weeks getting ready for reopening,” he says. “With the latest news, now we’re full-steam-ahead getting the patio ready.”
As for a Saratoga summer without concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or fans at Saratoga Race Course, Straus is surprisingly hopeful. “People are going to be ready to get out of the city—they’ve been quarantined in their apartments for months now,” he says. “All those people in New York City and Boston who’d probably come up for the track will still think Saratoga’s a pretty nice place to go, because they can come up here and enjoy restaurants and enjoy the outdoors a lot more than in the city, and online betting is alive and well. So, they can watch a simulcast of the races and still get that Saratoga experience.”