It started as a test in the fall of 2019: Green House, a So Cal–inspired bar concept took over the back deck of Pachinko, a long-time drinkery in Covington’s Mainstrasse neighborhood. And, as Green House general manager Robert Cate says, “It went over really, really well.” The concept’s success met what Pachinko owners Tom and Amy Fessler saw as a natural time to start something new and they decided to close down Pachinko earlier this year to go all in on Green House.
“It’s amazing because most bar concepts last between 10 and 12 years,” Cate says, “and for Pachinko’s to be open for 26 years is more than double the average lifespan of a bar. So it was the right time for something new.”
The Fesslers completely transformed the former Pachinko space to reflect their favorite vacation spot of Southern California before Green House’s grand opening on August 15. The result is a bright and airy spot with a modern west coast color palette, fun photography, playful artwork, and some seriously stellar plants. “They wanted to make this like a vacation for other people who live here, so they don’t have to go to California to get those kinds of vibes,” Cate says. “So, we like keeping things upbeat, bright, and sunny.”
When Cate, formerly of Wise Guys and Coppins at Hotel Covington, was brought in for the beverage side of operations, he decided to keep that same sense of left coast sustainability in mind. All of the drink ingredients are made fresh, Cate says, including all juices, syrups, and garnishes. Freshness is reflected throughout the menu, which is broken down into five sections: seasonal drinks, classic cocktails, non alcoholic drinks, snacks, and wines.
Our favorite cocktails include the gin and tonic, made with a custom tonic and garnished with locally sourced herbs; the Green House, a lavender lemonade with vodka served in a large pouch like an adult Capri Sun (with the lavender sourced from Provence, France, might we add); and the Shoot the Punch, a traditional 1800s-style punch served in a ring of shot glasses (or a regular glass for the less adventurous).
During COVID-19, indoor capacity is limited to seated guests. Luckily, there’s a spacious front room, a covered back deck with open side walls, and an outdoor side patio. Not ready to commit to libating in public? Drop into Green House’s DMs on Instagram @greenhousebarcov to order one of four cocktails available to-go, including the Greenhouse, Ground and Sky (a margarita-like cocktail with jalapeno-infused tequila inspired by owner Tom’s own home-distilled favorite), Shoot the Punch, and Amy’s Paloma (the classic grapefruit-forward cousin of the margarita).
And don’t sleep on the snack section (also available to-go). The highlight? The Tommy Dip (an adaption of the owners’ family favorite “Mommy Dip”) is an addictingly good cream cheese–based dip with a secret blend of spices served with the locally produced Hen of the Woods Chips.
Local collaboration is at the heart of Green House, which aims to continue collaborating and supporting other locally owned and operated small businesses. The bar’s interior plants, for example, were selected and arranged by Anna Steffen from The Native One, exterior plants were selected and arranged by Lily Dean from Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, and the Green House is currently working with another local company to help bolster its non-alcoholic cocktail offerings.
Despite all of its upgrades, Green House is anything but stuffy. The same fun energy from Pachinko lives on through the space with decorative reminders throughout to “Let Loose” and partake in a bit of “Tomfoolery.”
“Everyone who has come in loves the space and immediately understands the concept and vibes… and has a really good time,” Cate says. “And that’s really what we’re here for.”
Green House is currently open Tuesday through Friday 4–11 p.m., Saturday 2–11 p.m., and Sunday 2–8 p.m. Last call is at 10 p.m. per the state of Kentucky’s current regulations.
Green House, 424 W. Sixth St., Covington