Catskills Drive-In Opens Craft Cocktail Garden for the Summer Season
As the sun sets behind the single screen at the Greenville Drive-In, it's hard to imagine another place on Earth you'd rather be. The retro snack bar is just as I remember it from my own childhood visits in the 1980s, but now it's serving up lots of local fare, like ice cream from Greenville's own Two Twisted Ladies and Re~Fresh popsicles from Earlton. Plus, the current owners, husband-and-wife team Dwight Grimm and Leigh Van Swall, have added The Projectionists Club, an outdoor bar beside a half-tented seating area, furnished with benches and picnic tables. It's a beer garden with some solid options for cocktail nerds.
Fun fact: Dwight's interest in cocktails led him to taking over the drive-in. "I was looking for commercial space," he explained. "I was a video producer for 20 years, but my other hat is that I make bitters and vermouth. When I mentioned this to some friends around town, they said, 'Oh, you need a commercial kitchen? You might as well take the drive-in.' All it needed was a digital projector. The screen was fine."
He managed to find a used digital projector that was "still savagely expensive but half savagely expensive," and now he and his wife are now knee-deep in their third season as owners of a drive-in with a craft cocktail garden. Their hope is to make it not only a local theater, but also a destination. It makes sense as an event space with a great outdoor bar, working indoor bathrooms (so important!), and a place to show films.
Dwight and Leigh recently bought an Airstream and hope to start renting it as an overnight accommodation sometime during the summer 2017 season. The trailer is positioned so that when you lie on the bed, you can actually see the movie screen through the window. Wait, what? "Yeah, you can watch a movie from inside the Airstream," Dwight said, enthusiastically. "Leigh and I tried it!"
Can you even imagine cuddling up in an Airstream trailer and watching a movie of your choice in an empty drive-in that you own? Dwight and Leigh are living their best life. I salute these people.
Meanwhile, Pete and I spent opening night chugging our beer and cocktails while our sleepy children whined and tried to sleep in our laps in the Projectionist Club garden. We hoped that they might snooze in the backseat while we watched the movie, but they were so crabby that we had to drive home before the movie even started. Parenthood! The drive-in is an awesome experience for older kids, or little night owls -- but it's also a great excuse to get a babysitter!