WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan — It’s not uncommon for bars to offer special drink combinations, but Henrietta Hudson is putting a new spin on it. What’s on the menu? How about a nasal swab to go along with your beer?
The iconic West Village bar, which calls itself a “queer human space,” was built by lesbians some 30 years ago. Now, they’re offering free COVID-19 tests for patrons to take outside the bar — once they get a negative result, they’re good to go inside.
Henrietta Hudson is known for its packed dance floor and energetic atmosphere, but with COVID-19 running rampant in the city, a lot has changed. That’s why the bar decided to come up with an outside-the-box way to make its customers feel safe.
“It’s really been stressful for people,” hostess Jodie Rufty-Graux told PIX11 News. “And to be be able to offer this as a safe haven for people to come out on weekends … that is why I’m here.”
To put the initiative into action, Henrietta Hudson partnered with City Testing, which provides both rapid and PCR tests free of charge. The bar’s staff became certified test givers as well, and administer the swabs themselves.
The best part? While people are waiting for their rapid test results, they can sit in heated cabanas outside and order drinks.
But you don’t have to be a customer to take advantage.
“It was so convenient,” Abby Castro said. “I was on my way out for drinks. I’m meeting my boyfriend’s sister’s baby on Sunday, and I figured why not get a rapid test?”
As far as the staff at Henrietta’s knows, they’re the only bar offering free outdoor COVID testing. They’re hoping, eventually, the bar’s crowded ambience returns. But until then, it’s safety first.
“For queer and LGBTQ people, to be with your chosen family, especially now, is very important,” Manager Alena Joy Adler said. “This is a safe haven. We come here to be safe.”
The free testing is open from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 6 p.m. to midnight on the other days Henrietta’s is open. So far, the bar has administered tests to more than 500 people.