ITHACA, NY — The Carriage House Cafe, known to many Ithacans for its popular brunch offerings, will now open its doors as a bar and lounge on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays from 5pm to 11pm. The Loft, as the owners are calling it, officially opened on Thursday.

“Before opening we thought a lot about where we would fit into the whole bar scene in Collegetown,” said bar manager Jessica Chandler. “There wasn’t a place yet that I could go to feel comfortable, that doesn’t get crowded or turn into a club scene later in the evening.”

Chandler also co-owns the cafe and lounge with her husband and front-of-house manager Aaron, head chef and brother-in-law Kristian, and her father-in-law Mark. According to Chandler, Mark purchased and renovated the historic building 13 years ago after it sat empty for a century. “It didn’t even have a wall on this side.”

The Loft is located in the hayloft of the cafe – past the front entrance, through the patio door, and up the stairs. Preserving the style of the cafe downstairs, it’s decorated with rustic 19th century touches that hearken back to its carriage house origins.

Included in the line-up of specialty drinks are barrel-aged cocktails. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t offered in Ithaca, so we had the idea to do barrel-aged manhattans and negronis. They sit for 8 weeks aging in the oak barrels, and it just really steeps in an interesting flavor. We’re keeping the manhattan because people love that one, but we plan to rotate the cocktails that we age. The one that’s aging right now is a smoky negroni with Mezcal.”

When asked who their target clientele was, Chandler said there was no particular group they wanted to emphasize. “We have a vision for the space, and we hope that whoever enjoys that vision and can come here and be comfortable.”

Mike Blaney

Mike Blaney is the executive director and co-founder of The Ithaca Voice.