On her show, Toni On! New York, Toni Senecal highlights the area’s most scrumptious bites and best libations. Now she’s getting a taste of the other side of the industry, as a bar owner. In April, Senecal and her husband, Tracy Shea, a former CNN journalist, opened Croton Tapsmith, a craft-beer bar with an emphasis on local brews.
Tapsmith’s eight draft lines are reserved for beer that’s brewed within a two-to-three-hour drive. What’s more impressive is the non-IPA-heavy list. Expect lagers, bocks, pilsners, and sours. “Beer’s a checklist now; people say, ‘I’ve had that,’ so we keep a variety,” Shea explains.
There are cans you can take to-go or drink on the spot, plus wine and cider for those not into hops and malts. Crowlers are available, should you try something on tap and need 32 ounces of it for takeaway.
Need a nosh? Tapsmith offers a small menu. “We didn’t want to open a restaurant,” Senecal says. “We wanted to pick and choose from our favorite local chefs to provide the food.” Arancini Brothers risotto balls, Arthur Avenue Wood-Fired pizzas, and empanadas from Baked by Susan will help soak up the suds.
Aside from booze and bites, Tapsmith’s vibe is something the couple is proud of. “It’s a hangout spot, like a coffee shop, but with beer and an unpretentious nature,” Shea says. The former barbershop/locksmith space was gutted by Peekskill carpenter Ross Chambers, who added conversation starters in random places, like the screws in the bar. Its deliberate dive-bar look is accented with antique church pews, Emil Alzamora sculptures, and custom knob taps designed by Birdsall House’s Tim Reinke, with metalwork by NY artist Cal Lane. “It’s part gallery, part beer bar,” Senecal adds, “but we didn’t want to build a place that looked brand-new.”
Shea’s goal was to create a beer bar that’s different for the village and to increase tourism. A big step for that is an Oktoberfest event (Oct 5) that they’ve spearheaded. “We want Croton to be a destination,” he says. “If you want to drink the Hudson Valley, come here.”