Authentic European-style pub comes closer to home

Pints&union owner talks brews, business and Billie Holiday


A curious patron, asks the bartender what he has on tap. Pints&union serves a plethora of classic cocktails and comfort beers. Photo by Bryce Shreve.

Jayla Rose, staff reporter

Eighteen years ago in the heart of Chicago, Joe Phillips visited a peculiar restaurant in a Victorian-style building. With the sounds of Billie Holiday filling the room from the ceiling to the rustic, uneven floors, Phillips knew he wanted to have his own rustic-style bar.

Phillips now owns Pints&union, located in the heart of downtown New Albany on East Market Street. The establishment is considered to be a historical building with a European-style pub design on the inside with Victorian goth detail. The concept has been in the works for quite some time, according to Joe Phillips.

“The building was built in the 1800s before there were even nails. We found an old photograph of the building and decided to restore it based on the picture,” Phillips said.

Phillips can usually be found in the kitchen, working behind the scenes — either cooking or doing dishes. He is passionate about food and community so he said it makes him feel good to work with his team and not have his team work for him.

“I want to set the bar as high as it needs to be and be in the center of the storm,” Phillips said.

One of a Kind

Pints&union’s name originated from a day of drinking beers with a friend whom he had told about the building he had just purchased. They were throwing back pints of beer and laughing when she exclaimed “pints and union,” which summarized the idea of people drinking and coming together.

“The name stuck after that, it was perfect because it means coming together in one space,” Phillips said. “We are also a no-hate space. We want to focus on diversity and culture and coming together.”

Bar Director Calvin Philley said the inside design comes from Phillips, who is obsessive when it comes to pub culture. The grandma’s house-style decorations and catholic, old-Victorian-goth-feel of the items and fixtures are found throughout the bar.

While the walls feature everything from taxidermy to antique art, one thing patrons will not find at Pints&union is a television. Coming together is a central theme for the bar, and Phillips said the goal is to “foster conversation.”

The building is old and has previously operated as a café and dive bar. Pints&union opened in August 2018 with hopes of being a creative, comfortable and welcoming environment for anyone who walks through the door.

Plenty of Pours

The beer selection sets Pints&union aside from other bars in the area because they have European classics that Phillips said started the craft beer movement. His bar boasts a creative kitchen and style of food, as the pub serves comfort foods, creative Indian inspired curry and street foods.

Bartender Colson Miller said the pub is “unpredictable” and a place people can come as they are. Every Saturday, an Irish folk band sets up with bagpipes, banjos and guitars. They have different nights where they have a DJ come in for dance nights, but it can vary depending on the day.

“We like to keep people on their toes with the entertainment, we have a unique selection of vintage style cocktails and bourbon that sets us aside from other breweries downtown,” Miller said. “It is a place for beer lovers to find their favorite beer and I enjoy educating people on the beers and cocktails as well as seeing people enjoy their time here.”