The Van Buren Room cocktail bar in the Oregon District has unveiled a new patio for outdoor sipping.
The bar started off as a simple tasting room for the Belle of Dayton distillery, where a customer could taste the vodka or gin straight. That made sense when the distillery first opened in 2014, but many patrons wanted to get a mixed cocktail or drink with the spirits.
Due to rules that barred distilleries from serving drinks, the owners and brothers, Murphy, Mike, and Tim LaSelle, were unable to initially fulfill that request.
A couple years later, in 2016, a change to state law made it legal for distilleries to obtain a permit allowing them to serve their distilled liquor — and other alcoholic beverages — by the glass for consumption on the distillery’s premises.
That change ushered in the stylish Van Buren Room in 2018, making customers feel like they took a step back to the 1900s.
Rave reviews rolled in about the ambiance as well as the specialty cocktails featuring Belle of Dayton like “Heart of Gold” and “Aviation.”
The cozy room only seated approximately 50 people before the coronavirus pandemic, so now, the Van Buren Room can serve even fewer people inside.
In addition to wanting to expand seating, the brothers suspected that patios would be popular in the coronavirus era, as people crave fresh air and distance from others.
The LaSelle brothers started construction on the spacious patio expansion early this spring, and have been working on finishing the space since. “It’s unreal out there with plenty of seating, umbrellas, and brand new sound system,” Murphy said.
The new patio can hold an additional 30 people, socially distanced, in addition to the indoor seating. Masks are required until seated and the staff are sanitizing all areas often.
There have been some other changes to help make the experience safer for patrons. For instance, some of the new summer cocktails like “South Park Sizzle” and “Spritz” serve 2-4 drinks each, which will eliminate the need to get up and down as frequently.
“I think it will provide people a safe sanctuary to enjoy delicious cocktails,” Murphy added.
The distillery and bar are located at 122 Van Buren St., at Wayne Avenue and will be open Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m. Expanded hours to be announced soon.