The newest watering hole in Waterville, Farnsworth Cocktail Bar boasts a hip, West Coast vibe accented by high ceilings, calm lights and an ambiance that encourages casual visiting with friends.
After a full renovation of the Farnsworth space (historically the Waterville State Savings Bank), the open concept structure’s hallmark tall windows, original chandelier and outdoor patio welcome guests to bygone era. The list of handmade cocktails, wine and beer and an eclectic food menu make for an enticing draw.
The interior space was completely renovated, beginning in 2021, under the direction of Josh Wagy, Farnsworth owner and operator. Many of the bank building’s features are readily visible, including the vault (now used for storage or wine and other supplies) and a curved bar where the teller counter previously stood. An open kitchen allows guests to glimpse the preparation of seasonally rotating menu items. Working through the pandemic brought delays and significant price increases in materials which necessitated several adjustments to the original interior renovation plans.
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Wagy explains that “the concept was for a big cocktail bar with a raw bar component. We have added a cool little menu that appeases the taste of a bunch of people. In addition to the raw bar items we have a steak and a burger and a few seafood dishes.” Spending his childhood years in New Orleans allowed Wagy to experience southern cooking, which has become his comfort food. “We are serving food that makes your soul sing,” quipped Wagy, adding, “We built this restaurant to serve food that we want to eat and we want to share.”
The airy space thrums with the warm undertones of house music. Though Farnsworth seats 50 or so comfortably, the feel is not crowded or too busy. Instead, the dining lounge invites guests to relax and enjoy.
Quenching a thirst for handmade cocktails
Appropriate for a place billed as a Cocktail Bar, Farnsworth’s cocktails are primary.
Offering standards with a Farnsworth twist, like classic Old Fashioneds and Martinis, the drink menu includes a Pa Pa Paloma and a Spring Blossom (think gin, tequila with lime and grapefruit juice).
An ample list of wines and beers complements the full bar and craft cocktail options.
Focused Menu Starring Oysters and Low-Country Shrimp
Oysters, generally a limited offering in the Northwest Ohio restaurant scene, are delivered twice weekly from West Coast fisheries to ensure freshness – one taste of the crisp brine of the Farnsworth oysters we sampled confirmed that fact.
The focused menu includes shrimp dishes, like the house specialty New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, a number of dips, including Smoked Salmon and Pimento Cheese, along with heartier fare like a double smashburger and a strip steak.
Broiled oysters are offered in several preparations, including Southern Dressed with cornbread andouille, poblano and butter. House Love is another broiled oyster selection, topped with garlic butter, parmesan cheese and sourdough crumbs, a unique twist for those averse to raw oysters on the half-shell.
The kitchen uses quality ingredients with simple preparations, allowing the tastes to shine through. The pace is unrushed and the atmosphere makes for a comforting place to unwind and catch up with friends.
Several visits highlighted how dinner service could benefit from an added server during the busiest times, but such is a minor growing pain for a bustling new establishment. Reservations are recommended for Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.
The varied menu is composed of smaller plates as opposed to full dinners, which offers an opportunity to try more items scarcely found in Waterville.
A part of Waterville
The public response to Farnsworth, which opened in February 2023, has been very good. Wagy points out that “Table reservations are helpful so that if you drive to Waterville we can be sure to accommodate you. Our (the restaurant’s) website provides an easy way to reserve a table. Make those table reservations and come see us,” he adds.
Waterville is a community that Wagy has found to be very supportive with neighboring businesses cooperating participate in events in the downtown area. “We want Waterville to be proud of this place,” Wagy says, referring to Farnsworth. “It is very cool for us to be a part of it and to be in the middle of it all [the renovation of the downtown area].”
Farnsworth Cocktail Bar is a unique place to visit. The drive to Waterville is a quick and easily accessible step away from the day-to-day.
Farnsworth Cocktail Bar. 219 Farnsworth Road, Waterville, OH 43566. Call 567-952-0162 or visit farnsworthcocktails.com for more information. Tuesday – Saturday, 4:30 pm – 9 pm. Closed Sunday/Monday.