City Swiggers Beer Store and Tasting Room Debuts on UES

On the left, California beer selection at City Swiggers. (Click on image to enlarge to readable size.)

Last Thursday marked the grand opening party of City Swiggers, a new beer store and tasting room on the Upper East Side -- although the place has apparently already been open for six weeks. We stopped counting at 200 bottled beer choices, and there is also a menu of tap beers available by the 32- and 64-ounce growler. (A term whose derivation has yet to be adequately explained to us. Grrrrr.)

City Swiggers looks more like a fancy UES wine store than a beer depot.

But what makes City Swiggers unique, besides its awful name and unexpected location, is the small but comfortable bar, which looks like something ripped from a basement rumpus room of a mansion in Teaneck, New Jersey, sans Budweiser posters. In other words, quite refined, the type of tasting room you might associate with a wine bar or wine distributor. Indeed, Rosenthal Wine Merchants is a couple of blocks away, and has nearly the same setup in their town-house headquarters.

Tasting will presumably be from the 14 taps arrayed along the dark Formica of the bar, which is entirely too well-lit for our taste. There are also some small tables in nooks further into the place, which you will encounter on your way to inspecting the foreign beer roster. But this is not a spot for drinkers; it caters to the beer connoisseur, a type of person who has only been out of the closet for a decade or so in the city, when bars like D.B.A. first appeared to appease a refined and broad-ranging taste in suds. You don't drink these sorts of beers so much as curate them. That said, we were very pleased to see an extended collection of Bear Republic products from California.

The taps behind the bar at City Swiggers

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