Cantina has been an industry favorite for years, offering a late night oasis to Union Square drinkers of all stripes. Now, after purchasing the bar with partners Andy Chun and Jan Wiginton (Press Club, Schroeder's) , barman Kevin Diedrich is at the helm of what they've dubbed Turnkey at Cantina.
According to Diedrich, opening week is a test drive, saying "We officially got the keys on Sunday, so we decided to open on Monday." The new iteration of Cantina is intended as a temporary pop-up, with plans to renovate the aging interior in a few months. Eventually Diedrich hopes to install a new bar top, rail and fridges and add more seats in the back lounge area.
The cocktail menu (see below) at Turnkey is a "greatest hits" lineup of some of Diedrich's most loved cocktails from past stints at Burritt Room, Jasper's Kitchen and BDK. The style is classic and approachable, something Diedrich feels is important in a landscape of overly challenging cocktails. "I want people to find something they love and want to order multiple times," said Diedrich. "If your drink is stressing you out, then that's a problem." He and his team, many of whom have been with him for years at various bars, plan to change the menu each month.
Currently, the space is not built out for food, and Diedrich says the team isn't planning to change that; right now hungry drinkers can order food from Hogwash next door, and food runners will deliver the goods. "It's like they've expanded their dining room by forty seats," said Diedrich. "It's working out really well so far."
Turnkey at Cantina is now open. Stop by for a drink Monday- Saturday from 5 p.m.- 1:30 a.m.