People, Fancy Cocktails, and Corndogs
more ways than one, Noche isn’t your typical Albany bar scene
the outside, the old firehouse at 895 Broadway in the warehouse
district in Albany is unassuming and dark, and passersby might
not even notice it but for the velvet rope in front and the
small sign with its stylish typeface proclaiming that this
is the new nightspot everyone’s been talking about: Noche.
The showpiece of the room, a 32-foot-long walnut bar, runs
along the left wall. Large custom-made taupe-colored lanterns
hang above the bar; red ones hang low over a row of horseshoe-shaped
leather sofas, complete with centered tables, on the right.
Walk across the concrete floor, past the fire-truck door mounted
on the wall, past the large planted palms (on wheels, by the
way—don’t lean on them) and past the bar, and you’re in the
back of the room, in another seating area with more leather
couches and a shag rug. A huge centerpiece work of art by
local artist Tommy Watkins hangs on the back wall; red lanterns
hang randomly from this section of ceiling.
Beautiful, svelte waitresses move gracefully around small
clusters of people, taking orders and delivering delectable-looking
drinks here and there. The clientele are refined and streamlined,
dressed in elegant concert-black suits and stylish jeans-and-jacket
Practically everyone wears black. The servers and bartenders
sport the color from head to toe; the servers with the exception
of black-and-white vertical-striped knee-length aprons.
Patrons are laughing and talking politely, sipping from highball
glasses of colorful drinks and flutes of champagne. Bartenders
chat amicably with their customers while taking their time
to prepare delicate mixes of rum and lime or champagne and
fresh strawberry purees, and then finishing the cocktails
with just a smidgeon of grated coconut or a fresh slice of
Owner Matt Baumgartner (well-known among locals for his Lark
Street establishment, Bombers Burrito Bar), is there. He moves
swiftly from server to patron, from the bar to the DJ booth,
back and forth, as if conducting his own private, subtle symphony
to make sure everything runs perfectly. He greets his guests
warmly and thanks them as they congratulate him on the beautiful
It is not an accident that the lounge has an exclusive air
about it. There is a semi-strict dress code (trendy jeans
are OK; sneakers are not), and its location is purposefully
off the beaten downtown-Albany-bar paths of Lark Street and
North Pearl Street.
Baumgartner saw a need among 30-somethings that wasn’t being
met in Albany. “I wanted a place where adults could go party,”
he says. “As somebody in their 30s, I felt like there weren’t
a lot of places for me to go out that weren’t restaurants.”
Noche’s drink menu, while more expensive than many bars in
Albany, is not exorbitant if you don’t choose to drink, say,
Dom Perignon ($325). There are costly bottles and cocktails,
but there are also $5 drafts and $8 martinis—prices that are
fairly typical among restaurants in the area.
looking for a crowd that’s in their 30s and 40s and 50s and
preferably people who are celebrating something, or who just
want to relax and have a bottle of champagne or a glass of
wine,” says Baumgartner. “People who are typically a little
more upscale, who appreciate interior design and style. It’s
not like a jeans-and-T-shirt and baseball-cap type of crowd,
but everyone’s welcome. There are a lot of two-for-one specials
and stuff like that. But it’s more of an upper-class type
Feedback for Noche, which opened in December, has been mostly
positive, Baumgartner reports. “The one comment that I hear
a lot is that [patrons] feel like they’re in Manhattan, which
is the best compliment you can give me.
see a lot of people [at Noche] who I feel had no place to
go before that wasn’t a restaurant. There are tons of beautiful
restaurants but there was no place where you could just go
dance as an adult without being surrounded by kids.”
One woman in her late 20s says she chooses to go to Noche
because it’s “a more mature bar. There aren’t annoying college
Another woman wondered how often she’d be able to get to Noche.
“They need a shuttle bus or something from Pearl Street.”
Baumgartner says that he’s heard a few similar complaints.
“I hear people questioning the location,” he says. “If you
don’t think that driving that little bit farther down the
road is worth the time, then it’s not for you.” Plus, he points
out, there are many perks of the location as well. For example,
there are no neighbors to complain about noise, and there
is plenty of parking.
A Spanish-influenced tapas menu is tucked into the drink menu.
There are items designed to sate light hunger pangs, like
baked brie with caramel and apples, and marinated olives.
There are also some fun, kitschy items, like corndogs and
deviled eggs. Corndogs? Yes, a “bouquet” of corndogs, from
a holiday recipe courtesy of Baumgartner’s mother.
all in the presentation,” Baumgartner grins.