“We’re going to go out tonight, so dress up when you get home,” said Albany John.

Oooo, where???!” I squealed


“AHHH!!! No way! You’ve actually heard about it too? Did you read that article Steve Barnes wrote in the Times Union??”

Have you heard about Ballingers yet? It’s on Howard Street downtown where Ogden’s used to be. It opened just this past Thursday. The owners bought the entire building and spent a fortune renovating it. One of the bartenders mentioned that the owners(who currently have a similar club in NYC as well) had been waiting for ten years to purchase the perfect spot in Albany. They certainly did it.

I’d never been in the building before, and from their pictures online, I was a bit hesitant since it looked kind of empty. Thankfully everything was rather spacious, if a bit cramped since a lot of the super comfy looking tables are reserved for ‘Big Spenders’ in increments of $50-$200. But really, if you’re a large-ish group you should fit in that category. And when I say comfy, I mean they look like decadently plush sofas. They’re absolutely gorgeous. And comfy. Did I mention comfy? Albany John and I were sitting upstairs at one point and wow – totally worth it.(I think before they had put more of the ‘reserved’ cards out, since later someone was putting them out where we were sitting. Ooops. But no one ever shoo’ed us away and I thought that was nice.)

There were a total of three floors to choose from. The details in each are just amazing. The main floor had the atmosphere of an upscale bar. They had a balance scale for decor, with actual change in each side – SO cute! Upstairs is where there was a DJ spinning. If you check out Ballingers’ website, you’ll see that after 8 a DJ sets up. I was surprised by the music. Kind of a top 40 of pop, but mixed in with some less popular current songs as well.
The upstairs also had a rather kinky looking room with some haphazardly hung harnesses on the wall. To be honest, it didn’t look like there was much rhyme or reason to it, but the rest of the room had a woodsy look to the decor so it worked.
The Cellar is smaller and showcases the exposed brick. They bar is made of granite and there’s a fireplace! It was also much less crowded than the bars on the other floors. It also felt much more relaxed.
There’s also an outdoor patio with its own bar – a Tiki Hut! Oh, I could have died! There’s plenty of sitting room outside, in case you think you don’t have the cash to be a VIP with a table and the bar seats are full.

The drinks were made perfectly and rather affordable too. We had 3-4 drinks total (just for a peek to see how the place looked) and it was about $25-30. I was expecting something more expensive, but Ballingers if you are reading this, please don’t! I really liked going into a swank, posh place and not paying an arm and a leg for drinks. Thank you for not charging NYC drink prices like some of the other bars downtown. *cough cough* Also, the entire staff were wonderful. I really do mean wonderful. From the moment we walked in we were greeted warmly by the door staff, cocktail waitresses, bartenders and all. It was so nice! I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have friendly, genuine people all over the place. I think that these owners really did a bang up job in the staff they hired, and hopefully they will all remain just as nice.

Ballingers also has a delectable looking food menu, which I didn’t get to try this time, but I can’t wait for the next!

12 thoughts on “Ballingers”

  1. It sounds like a pretty glowing review. I just moved to this part of the country not long ago, so I haven’t had a chance to experience much of Albany or its surroundings. If I ever pass through the neighborhood, I might have to stop in for a few drinks.

  2. Thanks Prof!I was pretty impressed myself. I just can’t help but really enjoy a place where the prices are competetive and the staff are friendly. That and I love having a place to go to all dolled up.

  3. I visited Ballingers on Saturday too! The doorman, Pablo I think, was very friendly. They didn’t have their whole wine selection available, but I had a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc. and sat with a friend on the patio.KathleenWine and Stories from the Vineyard Blog –

  4. Hey Kathleen!Glad someone else got to try it out so soon as well. Good tip on the wine – I’m not much of a wine drinker, so I’d never have known. And yes, the door guys were so nice!

  5. Hi Albany Jane!I was there when it was Daniel’s at Ogden for dinner. It was good, but nothing memorable that made me want to go back. The Ballinger’s web site wouldn’t allow me to see their menu, but it sounds good! And Albany definitely needs more places where one can wear shmancy clothes (and witness other people doing same).

  6. Hi Nosher – seems like the menu part is down for some reason. Before it showed sandwiches, pizzas and other light bar fare, with a few twists that I can’t remember because it is wayyyy early for me ;p.

  7. I don’t know about everyone else, but I think $5.50 for a Bud Light is a bit expensive- I wouldn’t call that affordable.

  8. That does sound pricey, but I thought beer was always marked up to an unholy amount when you go out, with the exception of a few happy hours around here. I stick with spirit drinks and they’re usually around $8-9 each for the teeny glasses on the few times I’ve gone downtown to bars. I usually opt not to go out most nights for drinks because of that – for a few drinks I could have a meal at Saso’s! lol

  9. nice design, but Ballingers is waaay overpriced. $7-10 for (weakish) cocktails. $6 bottled beers. on top of that, i didn’t think the waitstaff knew their stuff very well, and the free apps (in place of happy hour specials) were so-so at just seems like mr. ballinger doesn’t know the crowd that’s likely to support or not support his business….

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