Best of the Hudson Valley 2008
(page 6 of 16)
* denotes Readers' Picks
Warwick Valley Winery
You may well know about Warwick Valley Winery’s Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider. That’s because this crisp, semi-dry sensation, which we greedily grab up each fall, has been written about in top publications near and far — including ours. But we’re focusing on another fruit just now. The winery’s oak-finished Bartlett Pear Liqueur, which made its debut last year, is a blend of their own excellent pear brandy and Hudson Valley-grown bartlett pears, and is — in a word — sublime. New York State’s first fruit distillery, Warwick Valley also creates delicious eau de vies and fruit cordials.
Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery
The richness of this brand’s five whiskeys — two bourbons, a rye, a single-malt, and an un-aged corn, all 92-proof — reflects the effort co-owners Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee put into every hand-waxed, hand-filled, and hand-capped bottle. And word is spreading: Some of Manhattan’s most upscale bars — including Brandy Library (recently named one of the best bars in America by Esquire) — serve Tuthilltown, and earlier this year the liquor made its European debut in fashionable watering holes in London, Paris, and Barcelona. But the small distillery hasn’t forgotten the Valley. This year, Erenzo and Lee began acquiring most of the corn and grain used in its whiskey from farms near Gardiner, and hope soon to buy more ingredients locally. There’s more: The state government passed a law last year that allows customers, for the first time since Prohibition, to buy and sample hard liquor at a distillery. Tuthilltown’s tasting room won’t be open until next spring, but soon whiskey fans will be able to enjoy the Valley’s finest legal hooch just a few feet from the charred-oak barrels in which it’s produced.
Arlington Wine and Liquor Store
You’ve chosen this well-stocked store as your favorite for the ninth consecutive year. No wonder: owners Bob and Valerie Keating are on a mission to supply you with the world’s best vino (and often at prices well below what others charge).
So many awards, so little time. The winery’s ruby port won a Gold Medal and “Best in Class” at this year’s Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Association competition; it won a bronze medal at last year’s state fair, and on and on. So curl up on the couch and toast the crisp fall nights as you sip on this sweet, full-bodied dessert wine. You can buy it on the company’s Web site for just $9.99, but the winery itself (the oldest in the country) is worth a visit. You could even join in the grape stomping on many Saturdays and Sundays this fall.
Helpful Wine Shop
In Good Taste
Whether you want to spend just a few bucks or splurge for a celebration, Ken Maguire, the knowledgeable, cheerful manager and buyer at this wine shop, can help you — and he’ll be as enthusiastic about your six-dollar Merlot as any ancient variety you may select (well, almost). Maguire, a CIA grad who inherited his love of wine from his father, spent time as a chef before launching a wine shop for a gentleman in Middletown, and discovering how much fun it was. Now in this post for about six years, he takes pride in sniffing out the best wines at the best prices. “I love people, I love food, and I love wine,” he declares. Stop in on Tuesdays for terrific discounts.
Locally Brewed Beer
Keegan Ales’ traditional method for creating clean, frothy brews keeps even the most serious beer aficionado satisfied. Brewed and bottled in historic uptown Kingston, there are three distinct varieties for hops enthusiasts to choose from: “Old Capital,” a classic ale; “Hurricane Kitty,” a hopped India Pale ale; or our personal favorite, “Mother’s Milk,” a rich, creamy milk stout with hints of chocolate.
Charlotte’s Restaurant and Catering
The diversity in Charlotte’s wine selection is impressive in both price and geography. Customers can drink a glass of chardonnay from Millbrook, or a Bordeaux from France; or from a $26 bottle of 2006 Seyval Blanc or a $485 Château Mouton Rothschild from 1988. Cheers.
The Gilded Otter
Beer lovers who walk in and see the huge, gleaming brew vats in the middle of this large, airy restaurant know this is the perfect place to wet your whistle. Brewmaster Darren Currier oversees production of the eight handcrafted ales and lagers, so you can choose from the likes of Huguenot Street American Lager or Stone House Oatmeal Stout (both named for nearby historic New Paltz sites). Sample the seasonal specialties, too, including award-winning Dusseldorf Altbier ale (it’s got a distinctive, toasted-biscuit flavor) and clove pumpkin ale — perfect in autumn.
Sip the signature Blue Martini (Kettle One vodka, blue curacao, sweet and sour, and orange juice); or one of the favorites — maybe Very Berry (raspberry Smirnoff, Chambord, sour mix, and lime); or the Sex and the City (Grey Goose, peach schnapps, cranberry, and pineapple) — and all you need to really feel the part at this happening Front Street spot is a sexy dress and a pair of Manolos. (Unless you’re a guy, in which case, wear whatever you like.)
Hudson Valley's Little Wine Bus is coming your way!
New Way to Tour the Vineyards
The Little Wine Bus
Tania P. Dougherty was driving from Valley winery to Valley winery with friends when she was struck with an idea: “We need a little bus to take us all around!” This April, Dougherty turned a favorite pastime into a dream job when she created The Little Wine Bus, a wine tour company catering to group outings and corporate events. A Cornwall native who now lives in New York City and works for a large financial firm, Dougherty runs the tour company on the side with the help of family members and friends. You’ll need a party of at least five to schedule a tour, but smaller groupings can sometimes hop on an already scheduled trip, she says. Customers can choose among the standard tour (the full-day “Take Me To The Vino,” which includes lunch and visits to three to four wineries), a variety of adventure tours (hike-, bike-, or kayak-and-wine), a five-course dinner at a winery, or a birthday or themed party. The choices don’t end there, either: you’ll have to pick either a stretch limo, town car, luxury van, or tour bus to cruise along in on the tour. Prices start at $100 per person. Whatever your preference or price range, though, you’ll know Dougherty will strive to meet each customer’s tastes, whether they’re of the vinous variety (white or red?) or otherwise (hello, togas!).
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
This 30-acre winery, which specializes in Chardonnay, Tocai Friulano, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc, continually receives national recognition for its award-winning wines. We highly recommend the Chardonnay — and suggest taking a free tour (the vineyard is open seven days a week) of this grandmaster of the growing Hudson Valley wine scene.
Classic English Pub
With 15 quality beers and ales on tap, this downtown Warwick neighborhood spot is the quintessential English pub — a place where birds and blokes can gather for a round of drinks and a plate piled with traditional Brit fare like fish ’n chips. The shepherd’s pie will have you speaking in a Cockney accent in no time.
Classic Welsh Pub
Peint O Gwrw
Perhaps it’s the Gothic, battle-oriented decorations furnishing the interior, or the ample supply of Welch Penderyn whiskey that gives you the feeling you’ve been transported to Cardiff. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. At any rate, when you visit this authentic Welsh watering hole, be sure to order one of the lip-smacking fried plates — or for the more health-conscious, make a selection from the “ffriod nad more” (“not so fried”) side of the menu.
*Irish Pub (tie)
Dubliner Irish Pub
Don’t be fooled by the Victorian-era build of this establishment. Die-hard sports fans can get rowdy cheering on their favorite rugby and football (as in soccer) teams. However, after indulging in one too many glasses of Smithwick’s, you can sit back and relax in one of the cozy armchairs near the fireplace.
*Irish Pub (tie)
Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant
Knock back a pint or share a pitcher with friends at this local taproom, which won two awards this year. Be sure to sample the hearty, down-home Irish specialties like shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, or beer battered fish n’ chips with your frothy Guinness. Check out the $2 nightly drink specials. Erin go bragh!
*Buffalo Wings (3-way tie!)
Sure, there are 12 TVs, a pool table, comfy booths, and a happy-hangout vibe — but the real draw here is the chicken wings. Choose from four heats (smoldering, volcanic, three alarm, or inferno) and 14 flavors, including Jamaican jerk, garlic, honey BBQ, teriyaki, or Cajun spice. “Wing of the Week” debuts a new outrageous flavor every Friday, and Monday is bargain night, when the wings are a mere 35 cents apiece. Get there early!
P & G’s Restaurant
Best known for bikers and burgers, this funky, fun New Paltz mainstay’s second most popular offering is classic Buffalo-style wings. You get a dozen juicy morsels, served with celery (of course), and an in-house variation on the traditional bleu cheese dressing. Wash ’em down with a cold beer and you’ve got yourself some no-frills culinary contentment.
This chain of quick-serve eateries now has a dozen Valley locations — all dishing up boneless Buffalo wings for wing-aholics who prefer not to gnaw. Choose from four heats (mild to suicidal) and 24 flavors. Play it safe and get something like roasted garlic, sweet BBQ or lemon pepper, or go crazy and order Leapin’ Lizard without knowing what it is. Orders come in amounts from five to 100, with bleu cheese dressing and celery. There’s takeout and delivery, and some locations offer on-line ordering.
You're reading about the crème de la crème of the Hudson Valley, as voted by your fellow Valleymen and loyal Hudson Valley magazine editors. Do you agree with us? Disagree? Tell us your top picks in the comments box below — and be sure to check out our favorite places, shops, and people throughout the region that we call the best.