Downtown Coxsackie may essentially be only one block, but it’s a perfect block, with a row of colorful, sun-dappled brick buildings running down toward a wide expanse of parkland that buffers one of the Hudson River’s most intimate stretches. Within the past year, the street has welcomed a new coffee shop, a quirky general store, and the Reed Street Bottle Shop, which Susan Baldaserini and Shai Kessler opened in July.
After buying a house in nearby New Baltimore two years ago, the couple began traveling upstate on weekends from Brooklyn, hoping to move full-time to the Hudson Valley and start a business someday, but they weren’t sure what kind of business they wanted to start. “Then we realized that we were driving our wine up from Brooklyn every weekend because we couldn’t find a good place to buy wine in Greene County,” recalls Baldaserini. “The wheels started turning.”
Kessler had been working as a chef in Manhattan at restaurants like Hearth and Dovetail, trading late-night cooking lessons for cocktail lessons with the bartenders at the end of his shifts. Once the couple got the idea for the store, he gave up working over a stove for a job behind the counter of a wine shop in the city.
“We needed to learn more about wine besides what we like and what we don’t like,” says Baldaserini. “But he also made a ton of great connections with reps that don’t have accounts up here. So we’re able to bring wines up here that you don’t see in the other local shops. People say, ‘I’ve never seen half of these labels,’ and that’s our goal.”
The couple has tasted every single thing they sell in the store, and their newfound knowledge and esoteric selection make Reed Street Bottle Shop a destination for those looking for hard-to-find gems, or anyone who wants to geek out with the couple about local whiskies smoked with tea leaves or the burgeoning New York State hard cider scene. But the shop is also refreshingly accessible and unpretentious—equally welcoming to people who just want something to go with pork chops and don’t want to spend more than 10 bucks. “We’ve found that our customers are open to finding something new,” says Kessler. “They trust us.”
While Coxsackie’s micro downtown remains a local secret, Reed Street Bottle Shop won’t be on the downlow for long. So to celebrate this spring, Upstater asked Baldaserini and Kessler to share their favorite seasonal cocktails—the ones they’ll drink in honor of the days getting longer, the earth turning greener, and the Hudson beckoning shoppers to come take a closer look.