When Ducasse Studio’s pinch opened at Empire City Casino in 2013, the beer was as newsworthy as the food. There were not only 100 New York beers on tap, but also five booths with four built-in, self-serve taps per table. A screen displays how much you’ve poured, and you’re charged by the ounce.
A handful of places in New York City have a similar setup (Park Avenue Tavern was the first in 2011), but self-serve beer is extremely uncommon in Westchester and counties north. Restaurants that install it are betting that people will drink more if they don’t have to wait. The computerized system helps track what’s popular, and the tables spotlight relationships with breweries. For you, it means saving money on tipping and refilling at leisure—your own private keg party (without the frat).
The novelty of the self-serve taps fits in at pinch, which has a bowling alley and slot machines right outside the door. Pinch’s Beer Master Andrew Pasciucco, in symbiosis with local breweries, selects the beers (and sometimes uses a poll of pinch’s staff to pick).
Two booths were free when we walked in, one with Andean Brewing Company’s KUKA beers, another with selections from a mix of breweries (you can reserve specific tables ahead of time). The crew at the Yonkers Brewing Company table was chowing down on the decadent onion soup, which comes with a shooter of Captain Lawrence Brown Bird Ale.
Your server activates the taps electronically. But now it’s up to you to remember to tilt the glass, letting the beer hit the middle and slide down. Sampling is a luxury you’ll quickly get used to. Whether you end up drinking more or less, the value lies in pouring exactly how much you want.