The years of Prohibition and the Volstead Act in the United States had a considerably different effect than the Anti-Saloon League and Woman’s Christian Temperance Union had in mind. Banning something so many Americans enjoyed fostered a new level of creativity in getting around the “T-Men” and the “Revenuers.” Bootleggers became the new Robin Hoods, and speakeasies became the openly “secret” hot spots in just about every town.

That was the way Barrington Distillers’ 18th Amendment opened its doors last week — as a secret opening, to let the new operation get on their feet before word spread to the wider public. Now, the long awaited secret is out and Penn Yan has its own “speak” once again.

“It’s a good thing we did keep it quiet,” says partner Jesse R. Jayne, “because we were slammed!” The building renovations over this year and then the striking copper sign that went up later had whet the public’s curiosity, so when the doors did open without any announcement, word spread fast and the blind pig was hopping!

Jesse and his business partners, his parents, Jesse F. and Dawn Jayne, refer to their new establishment at No. 7
Main St. as a cocktail bar, and that fits perfectly. Well known standards like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds are expertly prepared, and are joined by famed cocktails from the 1920s — like the Bee’s Knees, the Sidecar, the Negroni, and the French 75 — along with new signature creations unique to 18th Amendment: Forbidden Fruit, Blueberry Smash, Chocolate Wasted, and Down the Rabbit Hole (which is made with CBD oil). Local wines and beers round out the offerings at the bar, which can be paired with sandwiches and flatbreads from the menu, along with the 18th’s own Chicken Corn Whiskey Chowder, made with Barrington Distiller’s own local corn whiskey.

The Jaynes are experts when it comes to spirits, having founded the highly successful Barrington Distillers in 2016. Inspired by their own 1920’s bootlegger great-grandfather, Olin Jensen, the Jaynes’ rapid success on Bill Bailey Road in the hills over Dundee, led to the idea in January 2018 of opening a satellite location in Penn Yan under the same license. They bought their building in June that year, in a block with plenty of speakeasy history, which you can hear about when you stop in. Inaugural hours are Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m.