62 THE QUEENS COURIER • BUZZ • JUNE 22, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Three new bars come
to western Queens
BY ESTELLE PYPER
A taproom, wine bar and rum bar have
all opened in western Queens recently,
so you won’t have to travel far to try
something new on your next night out.
Read on to learn more about these three
spots—there’s something for everyone
right here in the “World’s Borough”!
ICONYC Brewing Co.
Long Island City’s local ICONYC
Brewing Company opened a new taproom
on May 5 at 45-13 34th Ave., not
too far from their main brewing facility.
Th eir popular original beers, “High Ryse”
and “Vexed,” and some newer craft brews
like the berry-fl avored “Proper Burial”
are on tap.
Fully owned and operated by ICONYC’s
three founders and childhood friends,
Sam Bosrok, Bruno Daddi and Laszlo
Fodor, the new space is the perfect place
to grab a beer and relax at the end of a
Th e founders opened their brewery four
years ago, fulfi lling a longtime dream.
Fodor remembers Bosrok, the head brewer,
brewing beer in his basement in Long
Island City as a kid.
“It kind of became all our passions,”
Fodor recalled. “We were always talking
about running a brewery someday and
then once he came back from the West
Coast aft er attending Oregon State
University, we were like, ‘Let’s do it.’
We all saved up our life savings and went
And ICONYC – a name selected to
encompass the whole city – was formed.
Th ey started out selling their brews to
craft beer bars and stores throughout the
boroughs. Th en, last fall, they bought a
small real estate offi ce, gutted the inside
to make it more open and functional, and
opened the taproom. Th e space is simple
and clean, with an industrial feel. Th e
bar is made of wood from Westchester,
cut down by Daddi’s uncle, and the metal
tiles that line the back of the bar are originally
from the Bronx botanical gardens.
Not long aft er the opening, ICONYC
enjoyed a successful run with Queens
“All the breweries in Queens are super
cool, everybody’s super welcoming,”
Fodor said. “Th e craft beer community is
known to be a very welcoming community.
We all share information.”
Th ey hope to one day open more taprooms
throughout the city, but for now,
they’re focused on growing their small
business in Queens.
Th is new café by day and wine bar by
night is perfectly named. When you walk
into the modest space on 23-14 Ditmars
Blvd. – formerly home to Waltz Astoria –
you are greeted with a nice outdoor patio
with strings of lights overhead. Indoors
is mostly furnished with wood, with old
books and plants decorating the walls,
giving the space a well-worn feel. Th e
wine bar sits toward the back, and there
are plenty of seating options.
Th e space is used by locals who want to
work from home and enjoy a quiet atmosphere
with a cup of coff ee and locally
made pastries. Th en in the evening, wine
lovers gather to sample from the wide
selection of reds, whites and rosés.
“I love this area, so when the space
became available, we jumped on it,” said
owner Paul Serelis.
Co-founder and head chef Matthew
Olley also loves the location: “I know
Paul really wanted to keep it in Astoria,
and this is the perfect street for it. Th ere
aren’t many opportunities to go out in
this neighborhood, so it seemed like the
When they fi rst opened the spot on Feb.
13, it was solely a wine bar, but they’ve
since expanded to serving food and coffee,
and most recently, brunch on weekends.
Since the beginning, they’ve featured
two wines, always a pinot grigio,
and a Tempranillo, as their “Wine of the
Month” or “Charity Wines.”
Th irty-three percent of the proceeds
from these wines go to a local charity that
changes monthly. In February, they benefi
ted the local Public School 122, and
for June, they’re hoping to partner with a
charity for breast cancer awareness.
In addition to the wines, there are a few
local beers on tap, and they’re soon coming
out with some soju-based cocktails.
“I kind of want this to just be an everything
spot,” Olley said. “You can get a cup
of coff ee, have lunch, you can bring your
friends or business partner. We want this
to be a hub where people can meet and
grow the community more.”
Off the Hook
Off the Hook, an eclectic sea-themed
raw bar and grill in Astoria on 28-08 34th
St., just expanded its venue to include a
rum bar on May 18. Th is “Rum Vault,”
as co-owner Bes Levonja calls it, contains
more than 70 diff erent types of rum from
all over the world.
“Th e rum vault was so big that it needed
a home of its own,” joked Levonja, who
co-owns the space with friends Dritan
and Glen. All three hail from Albania, but
have lived in Astoria for a long time.
Th e new space, which used to be a
garage, is a modest size and complements
the older restaurant well. It adds more
seating in addition to the bar, and better
access to their outdoor patio.
Th e decorations are nautical-themed,
with nets and lobster traps hanging from
the ceiling. Artwork for sale by local artists
hang on the walls, and there are two
giant swings hanging from the ceiling
separating the main restaurant from the
rum bar area. Th ere is an overall laidback
vibe, which is exactly what they’re
“Th e initial idea was to have a place
you could go to aft er the beach,” Levonja
said. “We were envisioning this place to
be really comfy, really down-to-Earth.
Basically, we designed the place with that
in mind. Th e community fi nds it really
Now with the inclusion of the rum bar,
the vision is complete. While it also functions
as a regular full bar, the main attraction
is the variety of rum. Th e menu
seems endless, but every rum is laid out
in detail, from the country of origin to the
type of fl avor you can expect. Most are
from the Caribbean and Latin America,
but some originate from unexpected places
like Wisconsin and Austria. You can
even order rum fl ights to sample three or
fi ve diff erent kinds of rum. Th ey’ve just
started a rum punch for the summer: a
juice blend of pineapple, blackberry and
lime juice, shaken with a quality rum.
Th ey’re dangerously delicious.
Looking toward the future, Levonja said
simply that they’re always on the lookout
for new rums to add to the collection.
For now, they’re looking forward to the
summer when their customers can fully
enjoy the laid-back island vibe with a rum
punch in hand, complete with live music
“Now we feel like we can breathe easier,”