I didn’t think I could love Lil’ Deb’s Oasis—the tropical, queer-owned, feel-good restaurant in Hudson, New York—any more than I already did, but I was proven wrong. During a snowy long weekend spent in Hudson with friends, we scored one of the snug restaurant’s hard-to-get tables and decided to order the “Party Pitcher.” (Our group has never been one to pass up a large format cocktail.)
We had the option of ordering any of the restaurant’s cocktails by the pitcher, and we went with the Ecstasy of St. Theresa, a combination of fermented rice syrup, Cap Corse, gin, and bubbly wine, topped with skewers of castelvetrano olives. We were excited about the super-sized cocktail, but as it turns out, that wasn’t even the best part.
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As a striking lucite pitcher landed on our table, we let out something between a collective cheer and a hushed ooooooooh. Printed with kitschy 70’s-esque illustrated primary-colored fruits, the pitcher (b)oozed flair. Looking around us, other tables had different variations of these vintage party pitchers, covered in boldly printed long-necked geese or sleek art deco styled palm trees. The grand pitchers sat on the restaurant’s bright oilcloth-draped tables, surrounded by platters of huge prawns doused in salsa macha, whole fried fish, sweet plantains, and grand blooming onions. The cocktail, of course, was perfect. The fermented rice and olives pulled the drink in a savory direction, while the Cap Corse (a bittersweet aperitif) and bubbly wine brought forward sweeter notes—a perfect pairing to the menu’s bright flavors.
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And what to eat while watching.Watching Big Night is like observing my dream dinner party play out before my eyes. People dance, they drink, they lay on a table in a food coma (relatable), and—of course—they eat! Most of the movie focuses on one big night when a pair of brothers from Italy throw a blowout party to attract a famous Italian-American singer in the hopes that it boosts their struggling Italian restaurant in New Jersey. My stomach always grumbles non stop when I see the brothers serve course after course of a decadent meal that ends with an incredible baked pasta known as a timpano.
Stepping into Lil’ Deb’s is like walking into your effortlessly chic maximalist best friend’s house. It makes no sense that all of the design touches work on their own, but together they’re perfect. I’m envious of pretty much everything inside of Lil’ Deb’s—from the ever-changing art on the walls and the tennis balls hanging from the ceiling, to the brightly upholstered seats and the shimmery fabric floating above the tables—but it’s hard to imagine bringing most of these things into my own home. The bright lucite pitchers, on the other hand, seemed like they would fit perfectly on my kitchen counter. © Photo by Emma Fishman
I’ve always been a fan of restaurants bringing vintage finds into their spaces, but these pitchers brought a whole new level of nostalgia and personality. I already spend a shocking amount of my free time searching the depths of Etsy for unique glassware, and I just had to find one of these pitchers for myself. As my friends emptied the drink from the glorious pitcher into their glasses, I sat there scouring the internet for “vintage lucite triangle pitchers” (it was mildly rude, but so worth it). Eventually, I found a few comparable options. Though the choices online are limited and the prices vary, there are gems worth hunting for, all of them ready to be used at your next houseparty.
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I don't get the chance to take the train from Brooklyn up to Hudson as often as I'd like, so I spend a lot of time dreaming about the tropical oasis that is Lil' Deb's. Those pitchers full of party-sized drinks have been the centerpiece of so many of my favorite meals. Sure, it's not exactly the same experience to drink batched cocktails in my apartment. But, a pitcher adorned with illustrations of tropical fruits and schools of ducklings gets me pretty close.