In a bellwether of the moment, Bay Shore’s oldest bar has undergone a makeover that involves absinthe fizzes, a ghost kitchen serving fried-chicken sandwiches and a glimmery disco ball.
Goldy’s Gems debuted Dec. 17 inside the vestiges of the Southside Bar, which has operated as a watering hole since the 1930s and was purchased by current owner Lessing’s Hospitality Group in 2013. Gone is the pub’s vaguely Tudor facade and woodsy interior, and in their place is an au-courant, slate-grey exterior and, inside, a lounge of low leather chairs and couches, a DJ booth and a faux library painted across the wooden paneling.
The original mirror-backed bar, carted from Brooklyn to Bay Shore in 1933 as Prohibition came to an end, is still in place, as are ceiling beams and a general vibe of bonhomie.
The focus is on $14 cocktails crafted by bartending consultant Thomas Crawford and Goldy’s general manager Corinne Koubek. They fall into three camps: classics (negroni, old fashioned, a martini made with both vodka and gin), modern riffs (a G&T sour made with tonic cordial, green tea, black pepper, meringue and lemon, or a rum and coke laced with sherry and sparkling wine) and boilermakers that pair various beers and shots (think Miller High Life with rye and Benedictine). The 10 taps are dominated by local brews, plus a few more by the bottle and can, and a scant handful of wines by the glass.
At the back of the space, a vaguely camouflaged booth is the domain of house DJ James McGaley and a rotating cast of guest artists; a schedule is forthcoming, said Lessings’ director of marketing Jennifer Cantin.
Lest it seems like alcohol is the only thing on the menu, patrons can scan a QR code to bring up the menu for Lucky Clucker, Lessings’ fried-chicken-sandwich-focused ghost kitchen that opened in 2020. The crispy chicken sandwiches — some glazed with hot sauce, others slathered with mayo, all on brioche buns — can be ordered in the bar or picked up from a window around the side of the building.
Southside began its life as the Southside Hotel in 1930. Among the roster of longtime proprietors was Carl Wolff, responsible for hauling the bar out to Bay Shore at the end of Prohibition; he died in 1964. Once informally known as Schiller’s, Goldy's Gems retains a historical taproot: Cantin said the name, as well as its swirling logo, were inspired by an old photo found in the basement of a softball team sporting T-shirts printed with … well, Goldy's Gems.
"Story is there was a jewelry store in Bay Shore called Goldberg’s, but we have not been able to find it in Bay Shore history," wrote Cantin in an email.
Soon, the bar will inaugurate a weekend brunch of chicken and waffles and "bottomless" mimosas. For now, it opens at 4 p.m. during the week and noon on the weekend, staying open until "late."
Goldy's Gems, 5 Third Ave., Bay Shore, 631-665-9596. goldysgems.com