Bars | Restaurants

A Tiny Sliver of Wine Tasting Bliss and Quality Bites

Ruffian Natural Wines

About Ruffian

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • One of our favorite wine bars in the city, this tiny boîte is always one of our first choices when someone mentions the East Village.
  • With its cozy space and open kitchen, you are immediately embraced by the delectable smells of their seasonal, veggie-forward menu. What the chefs do in that Lilliputian-sized kitchen is nothing less than extraordinary.
  • But enough about the food. Ruffian is about the wine: Natural, Biodynamic, and Organic focused wines from small producers, many of which are located in Eastern Europe and other non-traditional wine locales.
  • If orange wine is your thing, Ruffian has one of the best selections in the city.
  • The staff here is incredibly knowledgeable. Many times you’ll find yourself talking to an owner whose passion for wine is clear. If you don’t know what to get, they are always willing to help you decide and, more importantly, always willing to give you a taste.
  • The space is small so a party of one or two is ideal. Four can work but not always as most of the seats are single file, in a row, at the bar. Waiting room is minimal but they always work hard to accommodate.
  • Outdoor street seating is now available and good for groups of 4 and sometimes 6.

Carpe City Trivia

What is Orange Wine?

Spending a considerable time of my life in the Sunshine State, I did come across (and was actually gifted, gasp!) wine made from oranges.  Yes.  Citrus oranges.  So, you wine snobs out there, put away your smirks and snickers when someone asks you if orange wine is made from oranges because, it is, however frightening/appalling it may be, a possibility.

Thankfully(!!!!) this is not the orange wine we see on menus like Ruffian’s.  Orange wine is created with a minimally interventionist process when white grapes are pressed and allowed to ferment with the skins and the seeds still attached.   The longer the skins stay attached, the bolder the taste.  The flavors and texture can be remarkably different from a white wine made with the same grape.  If you haven’t already, orange wine (or skin-contact wine as it is also called) is worth a try and Ruffian is a great spot to start.

What's Up with the name Ruffian? Is this a bar for Hooligans?

You might guess from the signage and the mural on the back wall that Ruffian is a reference to a famous thoroughbred racehorse from the 1970s. The famous filly dazzled the public with 10 consecutive wins before a breakdown at the 1975 Belmont. The story of her wins by epic lengths was immortalized in the 2007 TV film, Ruffian starring Sam Shepard.

By: Christi Scofield
Photography by:

Anne Crays

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