Valley Art Supplies finds right mix by adding bar to longtime Easthampton business

Owner Juliette Mooers pours a cocktail Friday night behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton.

Owner Juliette Mooers pours a cocktail Friday night behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Owner Ed Mooers pours the Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton.

Owner Ed Mooers pours the Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Owner Juliette Mooers, middle, talks with bar patrons Beth McElhiney, left, and Jeff Sinkwich on Friday night at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton.

Owner Juliette Mooers, middle, talks with bar patrons Beth McElhiney, left, and Jeff Sinkwich on Friday night at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Owner Ed Mooers pours the Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton.

Owner Ed Mooers pours the Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton consists of Stiggin’s and overproof rum, bitters, ginger and a citrus blend.

The Boom for Real cocktail at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton consists of Stiggin’s and overproof rum, bitters, ginger and a citrus blend. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Owner Ed Mooers pours a round of cocktails at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton. The business opened a bar using some of their Cottage Street space last July.

Owner Ed Mooers pours a round of cocktails at Valley Art Supplies on Friday night in Easthampton. The business opened a bar using some of their Cottage Street space last July. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

The Empress Elderflower Sour, left, and Portland Riley cocktails at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton

The Empress Elderflower Sour, left, and Portland Riley cocktails at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Owners Ed and Juliette Mooers pose for a photo with a pair of cocktails behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Owners Ed and Juliette Mooers pose for a photo with a pair of cocktails behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTOS/DAN LITTLE

The Portland Riley cocktail at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton consists of vodka, elderberry liqueur, lemon, seltzer, cane sugar syrup, blueberries and a Maine Craft Blueshine float.

The Portland Riley cocktail at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton consists of vodka, elderberry liqueur, lemon, seltzer, cane sugar syrup, blueberries and a Maine Craft Blueshine float.

Owners Ed and Juliette Mooers behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton.

Owners Ed and Juliette Mooers behind the bar at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton.

Valley Art Supplies on Cottage Street in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Bar sketch books at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton.

Bar sketch books at Valley Art Supplies in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 03-27-2024 2:41 PM

Modified: 03-29-2024 10:19 AM


EASTHAMPTON — Unlike most bar logs, the pages of the small black book found on the homemade bartop at Valley Art Supplies are filled with doodles and scribbles: a cat Statue of Liberty, a skull cocktail glass and platypus gyroscope lily monster.

Despite the long wall of paints, brushes, pads, pencils, inks, oils and pastel staring at them from behind the bar, Valley Art Supplies owners Edward and Juliette Mooers didn’t come up with the idea for a community sketchbook. Credit for that goes to a customer who floated the suggestion after being inspired by the surrounding art supplies.

The couple immediately plucked a small black booklet from their inventory, slapped a Valley Art Supplies sticker on it and left it on the counter with some pens.

Less than a year after opening the new bar last July — an addition to the 20-year-old art supply store located at 76 Cottage St. — patrons inspired by the surrounding art supplies and vividly colored drinks covered an entire booklet with sketches and have already filled about a fourth of a new book.

Once dark by 5 p.m., Valley Art Supplies now stays open into the evening with the new addition of a fully stocked bar, mixing cocktails and serving snacks for any local artists who ran out of paints during a late-night creative flow or any curious passerby looking for a new bar experience that combines art with alcohol.

“It’s a great community space for people to get like a different vibe of a bar,” Juliette said. “They can have a conversation; they can do art. I have people come here to do book club; people come and just knit. We have a little bar drawing log that people are filling up really quickly. It’s just a nice space with creative folks and with creative cocktails.”

Valley Art Supplies opened in 2004, just as the renovations of mills on Pleasant Street and Cottage Street began to turn the old buildings into studio space. Despite the budding art scene, the city had no art supply store. Inspired by his fine arts degree from UMass Lowell and sales work selling office supplies, Edward suggested that he and Juliette fill the gap.

“Once we set up the bar, we started consolidating art supplies to what people came here for and got rid of what wasn’t selling. We narrowed everything and squished it over,” Edward said.

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The bar is the couple’s dream business.

The two kept a running list of drink ideas for the past 20 years, as the couple loves to cook and mix up new flavors. Juliette bartended while in college until Valley Art Supplies opened, so the vision incorporates both of their passions.

“We thought maybe once my husband retired, we’ll do this. But the opportunity came a lot quicker,” she said. “The state gave the city a couple of extra liquor licenses to use for downtown business, and we found out about it and jumped on it.”

Now, when local artists need to make a late supply run many are enticed to stay for a mai tai, the couple says.

Edward recalls a customer in the first weeks of bartending who bought a big pad and pastels, ripped the big paper into six smaller pieces, sat at the bartop with a drink and began drawing. Edward walked over to the customer and said, “Thanks for making the dream a reality.”

The cocktails at Valley Art Supplies take inspiration from the art supplies lining the walls by using vibrant colors like highlighter green grasshoppertini, orange tropical jungle bird and yellow Peeps-garnished tispy and tweet topped with a yellow peeps. Names for the couple’s creations use famous paintings like “Still Life with Pears” and “Moulin Rogue.” One drink even pulls from Edward’s art school days, honoring his former art professor, Brenda Pinardi, with a cocktail called “Needs More Magenta,” a pink plant-based elderflower sour.

“She’d always say, ‘I like this painting, but it needs more magenta,’ ” Edward said, imitating his late teacher’s high-pitched voice. “She was just so passionate about magenta.”

Juliette’s favorite cocktail is the Portland Riley, an elderflower vodka topped with blueberry moonshine and fresh blueberries. The couple crafted the recipe on a trip to Portland, Maine, in 2018, when Storm Riley kept them indoors for the night. Edward and Juliette collected locally distilled gin, elderflower selzer from Trader Joe’s, blueberry moonshine and frozen Maine blueberries from the freezer in their AirBnB.

After the first sip of the concoction, Juliette knew that if she ever opened a bar, this cocktail would be on the menu.

While Valley Art Supplies limits art at the bar to drawing and small crafts like knitting, the couple does invite patrons to create more material-heavy artwork at the store’s seasonal craft workshop. The store transforms into a crafting lounge with large comfortable chairs and fold-out tables. Past crafts include felt trees, mason jar oil lamps, winter wreaths and porcelain pumpkins.

“I know with crafting like for me personally, at home, it’s hard to do because in order for me to use [my dining room table] to sew or whatever else, I need to take everything off the dining room table, bring all my sewing stuff, and then that’s an hour now,” Juliette said.

“Here, you come [and] everything’s here for you. You have the space, and it’s like an uninterrupted crafter art time. You know, no prep needed; just come in.”

The bar does not serve food made in house, but customers can buy pre-packaged snacks and snacking kits, including vegan or gluten-free options. Mocktails, concocted by Juliette’s two children are also available for people looking for alcohol free drinks.

But the core of the bar is to provide a space for people to relax, grab a drink and get their creative juices flowing.

“I hear it all the time: People say, ‘I’m going to have a drink and then it will make me feel like I can make art,’ ” Juliette said. “It’s just a safe space.”

Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.