Inside Tandem, a Small-Plates Bar With Dance-Party Aspirations

By
Photo: Melissa Hom

Tandem opened in Bushwick last month, but co-owners and sisters Jane and Cathy Virga want their spot to be more than just a bar. “I really want to have big dance parties here,” says Jane. “We’ve already had a couple so far and I just love providing a venue for great D.J.’s.” The $8 specialty-cocktail list — sporting an assortment of classic drinks, from Dark and Stormies and Side Cars to the Bushwick Fizz (a riff on a Gin Fizz) — is a collection of the girls’ favorites. The changing snack menu includes dishes like artichoke and chard dip, grass-fed meatballs, and a chocolate amaretto tarte. Jane cooks it all “using really nice ingredients.” While Cathy worked on Wall Street by day (she comes to the bar at night), Jane scoured the five boroughs, upstate, and New Jersey for Tandem’s reclaimed décor. The bar came from Build It Green! NYC, a nonprofit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials, via an Elks Lodge in Elmhurst. Some windows and pieces of decorative glass inside are scrap glass from Frank Gehry’s IAC building in Chelsea, the remnants from an exhibition at the Center for Architecture. The handmade, ceramic tile walls and tabletops, and the ceramic beer cups (all designed by Jane) are the rare “new” pieces at Tandem. “The style is kind of all over the place now,” says Jane. “Though, when I first thought about the design of the bar, I was thinking ‘Psychedelic Art Deco,’ which explains the tiles.” Check out the slideshow and shake your moneymaker.

Tandem, 236 Troutman St., nr. Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick, Brooklyn; 718-386-2369