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Butch Judy's, queer bar pop-up, opens at Performance Space New York

Emma Orlow
Written by
Emma Orlow

A new queer-run pop-up bar called Butch Judy’s has opened this past weekend at Performance Space New York, a venue in the East Village. The bar, helmed by Katie Zanin and Cassidy Gardner, is open Friday-Sunday in Performance Space’s backyard and will close when the first snowfall hits. The pop-up is a testing ground for a Butch Judy’s brick-and-mortar natural wine bar that the duo is trying to open in Bed-Stuy, though the exact location is still in the works.  

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Currently, the pop-up serves seven different natural wines (reds, whites, rosé and sparkling), a few specialty beer cans (such as Threes Brewing and Gay Beer). You can also find Butch Judy’s own canned cider collaboration with Shacksbury. The crossover, called LoverBoi, has already been made available at some of New York’s hottest restaurants such as MeMe’s Diner (Zanin is in a relationship with MeMe’s co-owner Libby Willis) and Gertie. Kia Labeija, house mother for one of the biggest voguing house, who designed the LoverBoi can, will have a performance at Performance Space New York soon.

Besides the drinks, the Butch Judy's stand will have French fries with an assortment of dips. 

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“So many wine bars feel like they’re for stuffy old white people. We want our future bar to feel like a ‘wine dive,’ almost, where you don’t have to worry about feeling cool enough or dressing up. It'll be a hangout for everyone to enjoy wine,” says Zanin, in an interview with Time Out New York.

Launched earlier this year, Butch Judy’s has already hosted pop-ups with Glady’s resident tiki drink specialist Shannon Mustipher, Airbnb, the Crown Heights beer hall Berg'n and Papi Juice, a roaming queer-focused dance party. 

“Everything we’ve chosen fits in our beliefs of limiting additives, supporting the queer community and just generally crafting products responsibly. We try to include as many queer spirits producers on our menu as we can,” the team shares, noting how few queer-run wine producers there are at the forefront of the beverage industry.  

The bar concept's namesake is a reference to an ex, but it's also a nod to the way that "Judy" has come to be a term of endearment and Judy Garland, herself, a queer icon. 

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The duo, college friends, complement each other's skills: Zanin has a background as a general manager for restaurants, most recently at the Jane Hotel’s Old Rose. Gardner formerly ran an AIDS non-profit, and after selling it, moved on to event planning and knows how to throw a good party. 

The pop-up at Performance Space New York is the latest queer-focused food project. Ex-Mission Chinese Executive Chef, Angela Dimayuga is the space’s culinary curator; “It’s an inclusive space created for the LGBTQIA community to dance to late night DJ sets, have a drink, and experience a few drag shows,” writes Performance Space New York. 

Butch Judy's joins the growing new wave of exciting new spaces for the queer community, such as Dimayuga's No Bar in the Standard Hotel East Village"Why should LGBTQ revelers not enjoy good cocktails and, for that matter, good bar food? writes a Time Out contributor, who awarded the bar five stars, Butter & Scotch bakery-bar and Queer Soup Night

Performance Space NY Courtyard. 150 1st Ave New York, NY 10009. Fridays from 2pm-10pm; Saturday, 12pm-10pm; Sunday, 12pm-8pm.

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