Woodstock’s Cool Community Bar Gets a Thirst-Quenching Refresh
Formerly Reynolds & Reynolds, R&R Taproom pairs an extensive selection of beers with craft cocktails and farm-to-table bar bites.
Photo by Lily Brown
It used to be hard to find a good place to grab a drink in Woodstock.
Then Megan Reynolds opened Reynolds & Reynolds in October 2016, bringing with her a passion for beer and Hudson Valley community. She settled on Mill Hill Road, just around the corner from Tinker Street, and spent the next few years cultivating a colorful, modern ambiance that’s as far from a traditional bar experience as you’d expect.
Insider R&R Taproom / Photo by Lily Brown
Now, in 2019, she’s ready for a rebrand. Just in time for summer, Reynolds drops a few letters — and adds a whole lot of flavor — for the new, improved R&R Taproom. Of course, she’s the first to admit that while the signage might be new, the core of the business remains the same.
“We’re still fundamentally a beer bar,” she assures, adding that her main focus with the rebranding was to streamline her menu and introduce a cocktail program to the mix. Now that R&R has a full liquor license, Reynolds can integrate cocktails, like batched Negroni, with her rotating tap selection and new natural wine list.
Photo by Lily Brown
As with the first inception of the watering hole, beer remains priority number one. From Thursday to Monday during the week, R&R offers passersby a selection from 10 beers on draft and more than 50 brews in cans and bottles. Happy hour and after-work visitors can pick and choose between Hudson Valley IPAs and saisons or venture into national or international sour beers and small-batch specialties. The offerings may seem overwhelming for the cozy space, which can seat 24 and hold 40 to 50 standing.
Yet they’re par for the course for Reynolds, a certified cicerone in the Hudson Valley. In case you’re wondering (we were), a cicerone is like a sommelier, but for beer. Currently, Reynolds has advanced through the first and second levels of the Cicerone Certification Program and is currently studying for the third test in order to achieve her advanced cicerone degree.
When it comes to selecting which brews to offer at R&R, Reynolds likes to have fun with it. She sources from a medley of local, national, and international brands to keep it different and allow her customers to sample flavors they might not find elsewhere in the Hudson Valley. She’s very focused on supporting local producers, specifically ones who make a point to use New York-grown malt and hops.
Further afield, she also loves to order classic beers from the greater New York region and from Europe, which is where she often turns for funky blonde beers. Currently, she loves Suarez Family Brewery in Hudson, which she declares makes “world-class lagers,” and hoppy Belgian blondes that are made for drinking on warm summer days.
Left: Nachos, photo by Michael Tulipan / Right: Harvest Bowl, photo by Lily Brown
Of course, beer isn’t the only reason to visit R&R Taproom (although it’s certainly a good one). New for this summer, Reynolds also rolls out a streamlined menu with a smattering of scrumptious new additions to complement her tried-and-true staples. With a vegetable-focused bent, R&R’s bar dishes include poppable pretzel bites with whole-grain mustard, Northwinds Farm bratwurst made even more perfect with kimchi and relish, and Frito pies loaded with chili and a dollop of sour cream.
“It’s great with beer and was really nice in winter,” Reynolds says of the unusual, yet addicting Frito pie. Overall, she’s happy to focus on comfort food flavors that make the most of the Hudson Valley bounty. As the manager of the Woodstock Farmers’ Market for the past 10 years, she makes a point to integrate produce from farms in the region, whether through the local Farms2Tables distribution service or directly from places like Four Winds Farm in Gardiner or Sky Farm in Millerton.
Seasonal ingredients feature prominently in dishes like the farro bowl and salads, which vary in composition from month to month. One thing that never changes, however, are the nachos.
“Nachos have been on the menu forever,” Reynolds says. “They’re vegetarian and people really, really like them.”
Photo by Lily Brown
The nachos are wonderful with beer, to be sure, but Reynolds is working to pair the taproom’s signature dishes with her wines and cocktails as well. Later this summer, she hopes to roll out suggested pairings to introduce visitors to some of the under-the-radar vinos in R&R’s collection. As for where to eat and drink it all, it’s something of a choose your own adventure. If they’re available, the handful of tables are great for catching up with friends on lazy afternoons. For after-work drinks, the bar is understandably the focal point, the space from which drinks clink and conversations flow freely.
Maybe it’s just part and parcel of being in Woodstock, but R&R is a convivial scene. Reynolds leans into it, offering special workshops and programming as a way to connect with locals and create an entertaining space within the community. Guests can play board games over drinks or swing by for a monthly Youtube-watching party, curated by R&R bartender Chrisso Babcock. A few times during the month, Reynolds invites local musicians to play a few sets and hosts occasional classes with makers in the area.
“We’re not exactly a bar,” she admits, “but we’re getting people together.”
104 Mill Hill Rd, Woodstock
Megan Reynolds / Photo by Lily Brown