Best Of Hudson Valley 2011: Best Restaurants, Food, and Drink in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

Best restaurants, food, and drink in the Hudson Valley in 2011 PLUS: Readers’ Picks, including Best Restaurants (by county, cuisine, and atmosphere)


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warwick valley winery and distillery bottles of liquorPick your poison: Fruity ciders, brandies, cordials and other Warwick Valley beverages are created with locally procured produce

Photograph courtesy of Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery


Fruit Liquors and Liqueurs

Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, Warwick
Year after year, this charming little micro-batch distillery performs the most fabulous feats with local fruit. Their renowned Pear Brandy once again won Double Gold at a big international wine competition this year, while their liqueurs made from black currants, apples, grapes, and sour cherries also continue to be fruity favorites. And their line of Doc’s hard draft ciders? Let’s just say their national reputation is well deserved. But don’t take our word for it. The attractive post-and-beam tasting room is open daily year-round from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and you can catch free musical performances most weekend afternoons (or sometimes a bigger concert in the evenings). The café serves a variety of salads, sandwiches, and pizzas for lunch, so all in all, this is definitely a day trip that bears fruit — or at least a lot of fun. • 845-258-4858;

Fruit Beer

Peach Wheat at Cave Mountain Brewing Company, Windham
This bustling brew pub on Windham’s Main Street caters to skiers and everyone else with its soaring space, beautiful burgers, and ever-popular craft beers. While there are six mainstays always on tap (they brew their beer just one barrel at a time), it’s the seasonal brews that really get the gossip going. And the stand-out? The peach wheat. Described by devotees as “super smooth,” it has a bold peach flavor and aroma, with just a touch of spice. All’s peachy keen when you saddle up to the bar and order a pint of this one. • 518-734-9222;

Place to Lift Your Spirits

Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, Gardiner
This small-batch distillery, which became the state’s first whiskey distiller since Prohibition when it opened about a decade ago, continues to attract more and more attention, both regionally and internationally. And no wonder — their spirits rack up award after award and all are made without added flavor or color. Whether you’re going for one of the renowned Hudson brand whiskeys (we like the moonshine corn whiskey), a vodka, or aged rum, you can’t go wrong by stopping by the appealing, barrel-filled tasting room/store in the woods. Or take a tour, where you can oogle the copper stills and learn all about the distilling process. And now, you can top off this unique experience with a one-of-a-kind meal. Opened in 2010, the Tuthill House at the Mill Restaurant & Tavern serves lunch and dinner seven days a week in the historic 1788 gristmill. We’ll drink to that. • distillery: 845-633-8734;, restaurant: 845-255-4151;

crossroads brewingCheers, mate: A teacher and an entrepreneur walk into a bar — and now they own one. Crossroads Brewing Co. in Athens gets our pick for best new brewery

Photograph courtesy of Crossroads Brewing Co.

New Brewery

Crossroads Brewing Co., Athens
You know you’re good when you start winning awards before you’re even open for business. Crossroads, the dream-come-true brewpub started by Wappingers Falls native Janine Bennett and her business partner, Kenny Landin, was named the Best Craft Brewery in the Hudson Valley at the TAP New York beer and food festival at Hunter Mountain, three months before it moved into its home — Athens’ former opera house. Crossroads also won a bronze medal for its Outrage IPA — a seven-percent acohol India pale ale — in the category for best individual craft beers in the Hudson Valley, plus it won the John Calen Memorial Award for the best English-style pale ale in the state. “Winning was a huge surprise,” says Bennett. At the time, they were offering growlers of their beer, the work of brewmaster Hutch Kugeman, at a tasting room in Athens. “We were just happy to be at TAP, but the awards were a validation that we are doing the right thing.” That “thing” now includes a line of 10 beers — five regular taps and five seasonal — plus two homemade sodas and six New York State wines. Additionally, they offer a pub-style menu of burgers, wings, and such — much of it made using ingredients from local purveyors. Landin and Bennett met in Queens, where he owned a drywall company; she was a special education teacher, and each wanted to do something else. “We both love craft beer and live music, and we wanted to start fresh,” she says. “We were at a crossroads, which is where we got our name.” • 518-945-2337;

Beer Story

Frost & Justice at Keegan Ales, Kingston
There are lots of great stories behind many of the Valley’s ever-growing number of locally crafted brews (and of course, drinking beer can lead to some world-class stories, too), but this is really a tale to toast to. A long time ago, before Beacon was even a city, the villages of Matteawan and Fishkill Landing had a legendary battle of the brews going on — and it was getting nasty. You were either a Frost Ale “Frostie” or a Justice Brewery “Man of Justice.” Finally, the wives of prominent brewer-businessmen J. Arthur Frost of Matteawan and Irving J. Justice of Fishkill Landing secretly combined their husbands’ recipes to bring peace to the communities. The result was an immensely popular brew from the Frost & Justice Brewing Company — which was busily serving until Prohibition. (In addition, Frost went on to become the city of Beacon’s first mayor). Fast-forward 90 years; when the Beacon Theatre recently was being renovated someone stumbled upon the original recipes of the beer company in the basement tunnels between the former Dibble Opera House (which became the Beacon Theatre in 1934) and the Hotel Melzingah. In honor of 4th Wall Productions moving to the theater, Keegan Ales craft-brewed a special batch of the F&J beer for a big fund-raiser this past June. And the folks at 4th Wall promise that, once everything is said and done, the Beacon Theatre will house a brewery tap room serving Frost & Justice. • 845-331-2739;


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