THIS LIVELY NEW BRUNSWICK CONCEPT INVITES PATRONS TO SIP, SNACK, AND SHOP, OFFERING A BOUTIQUE LIQUOR STORE, SWANKY COCKTAIL BAR, AND CREATIVE BITES UNDER ONE RUSTIC-CHIC ROOF
BY AMANDA MCCOY PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
Among the sea of industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants were one of the hardest hit. Saddled with a slate of restrictions, from seating capacity limits to reduced hours, New Jersey establishments across the state scrambled to stay afloat while waiting for the storm to pass. But sometimes great ideas are seeded in hardship, and concepts are shaped by an innovator’s ability to rethink and adapt. For the team behind Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick, the pandemic gave birth to the now-thriving Batch Bin & Barrel, a cocktail bar, lounge, and event space meets spirits boutique.
“During COVID, we were forced to limit our seating capacity to 25% and eventually 33%, so we had to block off a lot of tables in the restaurant,” noted Karyn Terranova, Steakhouse 85’s service manager and daughter of owner Matthew Terranova. “Customers would come in and ask why they couldn’t sit at those tables. My dad decided to store the extra tables in an empty storefront next door, and one of our managers mentioned the space would make a great liquor store.”
Launched in January of 2023, Batch Bin & Barrel began as a boutique liquor store, but soon expanded to include a lounge and bar that served a variety of snacks and small plates alongside local beers, wines by the glass, and cocktails. The concept was an instant hit, and regulars began inquiring about renting out the space for parties and special events, either in the main bar area or the Barrel Room, a private, intimate space that can accommodate up to eight people. “We’ve hosted everything from birthdays and retirements to wedding showers and work celebrations,” added Terranova.
The spirits wing, accented by genuine brick walls, features a blend of prominent labels (think Grey Goose, Macallan, and Jameson) plus a variety of local New Jersey names, like Asbury Park Distilling Co. Twelve high-back stools surround the glossy bar top, where affable bartenders pour prosecco and pinot by the glass. A generous selection of local Jersey brews includes expressions from River Horse, Three 3’s, Bad Seed, Asbury Park, Flying Fish, and Jersey Girl. Bourbon, Scotch, Irish whiskey, and tequila can be stirred into cocktails or poured neat, and a small plates menu ensures hunger pangs never go unanswered.
“One of my favorite things about Batch is we are always trying something new,” continued Terranova. “Every week, a member of our staff will come up with something they want to try and we all jump onboard. Last week, we made a delicious prosciutto panini, and the week before that it was gnocchi.”
The menu, designed by Steakhouse 85’s executive chef Brian Karluk, spans savory options like flatbreads (including Terranova’s favorite, the Spicy Roni, topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozz, baby pepperonis, and Mike’s Hot Honey) and snacks, from pimento cheese stuffed pretzel knots and marinated olives to fresh prosciutto imported from Emilia Romagna, Italy. A variety of artisan cheeses are also on deck to pair with the wine, including a creamy goat’s milk camembert and an aged, hand-stirred cow’s milk cheddar infused with garlic, ginger, and paprika. Sweeter selects include cannolis, warm chocolate cookies baked to order, and a s’mores pizza topped with rich chocolate, marshmallows, and graham cracker crumble.
In addition to bar seating, a collection of high-tops crafted from wine barrels are sprinkled throughout the space. “We wanted to create a warm, intimate, casual vibe, rustic but hip, perfect for a first date or drinks with friends. Our bartenders are all super personable and we’ve already established a great group of regulars. It’s turning into a popular after-work hangout.”
The Barrel Room, available to rent for intimate gatherings, is ornamented with a large chandelier, a granite table with high-back chairs, and wall-mounted TVs that can stream anything from presentations and football games to a wood-burning fireplace backdrop.
Patrons will find ongoing specials on certain days of the week, including Taco Tuesdays and $7 Wine Wednesdays (pizzas are reduced to $7, too). Kicking off at the end of February, Batch will start hosting three-course spirits and food tastings on select Mondays. Tequila super fans, be sure to mark your calendars for the inaugural event
“We’ve been hosting specialty tasting events at Steakhouse 85 for years, and we’re excited to bring the concept over to Batch,” said Terranova. “It’s just one more element of fun we can bring to the space. Every lesson we’ve learned in the 16 years since opening the steakhouse, we were able to translate over to Batch. There really is nothing else like it in the area; it fills a niche that even we didn’t know we needed.”
Batch Bin & Barrel
98 Albany Street, New Brunswick 732.246.8587 / batchbinbarrel.com