Forget trekking across the Hudson. With a team that hails from some of New York’s top bars — such as Dutch Kills and Flatiron Lounge — The Archer is bringing modern mixology to downtown Jersey City. Here’s what you can expect from the recently-opened cocktail bar.
Who is the team behind The Archer? How did the idea form?
The Archer: The operating partners of The Archer are Kent Baker and Jesse Weeks. We’ve worked decades in the restaurant industry and are excited to bring our combined experience to The Archer. We always intended to create a space with great cocktails grounded in the classics, but the entire concept really came together after securing this particular space and getting a feel for the room. Being from upstate New York and Utah, respectively, we have both spent plenty of time in rustic environments and wanted to design a place that transports our guests out of the daily grind of city life.
Who created the cocktail menu and food menu?
TA: The cocktail list is the creation of Natalie Jacob from Dutch Kills and formerly Painkiller (PKNY) and Flatiron Lounge. Natalie’s done a fantastic job curating a list of classics as well as original cocktails with something to satisfy every palate. The food menu is a collaboration between Kent and consulting chef Justin Antiorio. In keeping with the lodge theme, the menu’s concept is a focus on game meats, but prepared in a familiar and approachable style such as sloppy joes, meatballs, and corndogs. The hearty flavors on the menu compliment and stand up to the cocktails and boozier beers we have on draft.
What experience do you want your patrons to have at The Archer?
TA: We wanted to create a place that feels like a bit of a getaway without actually having to travel anywhere, but most importantly we just want to have a warm and welcoming environment where people can get together with friends and enjoy a few cocktails and great food. Whether you’re sitting at the bar, the charcuterie counter, a table, or a booth — our focus has always been to create an atmosphere that’s comfortable, conducive to conversation, and totally down to earth.
The current menu seems to lean toward game meat items (duck confit poutine, elk meatballs, etc.) What kind of food menu can customers expect in the future? Will it be seasonal?
TA: While we’re very much focused on bringing high-quality game meats to our customers, this doesn’t exclusively define the menu. Game meats, by default, are leaner, more humanely raised, and delicious when done correctly. We have plenty of other options such as grilled cheese with gruyere, raclette, and mustard-braised leeks; stuffed portabella mushrooms over kale; and smoked turkey pot pie (to name a few) for those who don’t eat meat or aren’t sure about game meats. The dishes are designed so that they can be shared among friends, which is a great way to sample new things without committing to a full entrée. To the extent possible, we source our produce from City Green, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing food security and providing access to fresh, organic produce in urban areas. Customers can expect our menu to change periodically to incorporate lighter fare in the summer and capitalize on the availability of seasonal produce.
Why downtown Jersey City? What brought you to this neighborhood and what most excites you about downtown?
TA: Jersey City is home for both of us so doing something here seemed like the natural thing to do. The Jersey City bar and restaurant scene is really exciting right now, not only because of all of the thoughtful, well-executed, and interesting options, but also because everyone in the community is so supportive of each other. In an industry that’s notoriously cut-throat, it’s truly unique to be part of a community of restauranteurs in which nearly everyone is an advocate for other establishments. Most of our team lives in Jersey City or nearby, though many have worked in New York for years. We’re having a lot of fun doing something new and different in our own city.
What has public reception been like so far?
TA: We’ve had such a great response from the community so far! Our customers have been very receptive to what we’re doing, and have displayed a remarkable depth of knowledge regarding cocktails and food. Ultimately we’re here to make sure our guests leave having had a great time — something we’ve focused on since day one and will continue to focus on for as long as long as we’re here.
What are your favorite places to unwind after hours?
TA: This is tough because there are obviously so many great places. In Jersey City we love Barcade for their incredible beer selection, Lucky 7 for a low-key hangout, Third & Vine for their remarkable wine and cheeses, and Union Republic for the really inventive cocktails they’re doing. As far as the city goes, The Wayland is a favorite right now for pretty much everything they do.