by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay
After Columbus Day weekend, several of Nantucket’s seasonal hot spot dining establishments will be shuttering their doors until Nantucket Christmas Stroll or Daffy Fest 2019. Luckily, there are numerous locations that do remain open for those who enjoy the lush taste of food and lucid pace of island dining that is available to us this time of year.
The festive flavors of fall are also translated into the creative craft cocktail lists found across the island. From cranberries on the harbor to seasonal takes on classic drinks, there are numerous locations on Nantucket open and ready to receive you with warm hospitality.
SIPS ON THE WATERFRONT
The White Elephant in the Brant Point neighborhood on the outskirts of town is home to the Brant Point Grill. Known affectionately as “BPG,” the restaurant is located directly on the picturesque Nantucket harbor overlooking Children’s Beach and the Steamship Authority ferry dock. Their food menu consists of delectable dishes by Chef Tom Pearson, featuring tender Pineland Farms all natural steaks, fresh fish, a lobster dinner, as well as a late night bar menu and an outstanding Sunday brunch.
The adjoining bar at this upscale hotel eatery offers the same menu and libations available in the main dining room, along with a special BPG Bites menu featuring more casual fare. The bar is convivial and fun, a great place to escape from downtown and feel like you are the guest on vacation, especially when they have live music at night. Be sure to sip on the Nantucket Mule from their list of specialty cocktails. This tasty (and easy to make at home) local rendition of a Moscow Mule comprises just a small handful of key ingredients. Take a tall glass and fill it with ice. Add 2 ounces of Triple Eight Cranberry Vodka, which is made from local cranberries and hence the gorgeous cranberry color. Top with equal parts Ginger Beer and Cranberry Juice, then garnish with a lime wedge.
No extra charge for the breathtaking views of the harbor!
Modern chic meets casual comfort in the heart of historic Nantucket at Dune Restaurant. Located amidst the hub-bub of Broad Street, this upscale eatery features refined New American fare by Chef Michael Getter and his team. The changing menu showcases an innovative selection of the finest in seasonal local produce, fish and meats from regional farms and select purveyors. The décor blends sophisticated elegance with soothing comfort.
Enjoy a drink at the exotic quartzite bar with current barkeep, Josh, to inquire about the inspiration behind his entire list of specialty crafted fall cocktails. Make sure to return numerous times in the next few weeks to sample all the splendid seasonal creations on this list! A highlight from these selections is Autumn Leaves Fall. This tells it like it is, not just in the name, but also in the warm flavors, yet crisp finish the drink has to offer. In a shaker, add ice, 2 parts local Triple Eight Organic Vodka, one part St. George Pear Brandy (made in California from Bartlett Pears), and a splash of lemon juice. Gently shake and pour into a wine glass with fresh ice. Top with Prosecco and a dash of cinnamon – yum!
No need to rake any leaves after enjoying this beverage!
The Seagrille Restaurant has led the way for the mid-island restaurant scene on Nantucket for more than twenty-five years. Their eclectic menu of inventive seafood and meat dishes lures locals, and seasonal summer residents alike, to this welcoming institution owned and operated by EJ Harvey and his family. It is known as the place where locals go for great fish and excellent seafood. Besides offering a classic venue and delicious menu, the Harveys are also committed to giving back to the community of Nantucket through the Harvey Foundation founded in honor of Robin Harvey, the matriarch of the family, and other charitable endeavors.
With two full bars, one recently renovated inside the dining room and the other on the patio with a must-see collection of bourbons, they feature hardto- get craft beers on draft, a well procured wine list and an eclectic cocktail list featuring modern takes on some classic concoctions. The Seagrille Barrel Aged Manhattan is a complex drink and not easily replicated at home. The exact proportion of ingredients for an individual serving is a secret, as this is made in house in large batches then aged for 3 months in a 5 liter barrel. It consists of Barrel Rested High West Double Rye (from Park City, Utah), Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Tuaca (an Italian brandy), Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and Rhubard bitters. The easy part is that it is topped with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry (or two, if you like).
Nothing like being on an island far out at sea for a big city drink like this!
FOR THE DESIGNATED DRIVER
The Wauwinet Inn, set alongside the inland waters of Nantucket Bay on the other side of the island, is home to the acclaimed restaurant TOPPER’S. This is a favorite foodie (and wine) destination that taps into the island’s rich supply of fresh ingredients from land and sea. Here you can dine on oysters that are harvested so close to the inn that you can see the oyster beds from the shore. The elegant restaurant offers upscale East Coast American fare and has a Grand Award winning wine list from Wine Spectator, a distinction held by fewer than 100 restaurants in the entire world!
Topper’s beverage program is unique in other ways as well in that they offer a creative spin for those who don’t partake alcohol, but enjoy a good ‘cheers’ with their dining companions. Labeled as “mACK-tails” on the menu (enter your best Boston accent here), again local fresh ingredients from the island, and their very own herb garden, are used to continue with the theme of the food being offered there. Bogged in Basil is a delightful, basil-infused cranberry purée that is mixed with refreshing lemonade. It is served in an elegant hurricane glass that makes you feel as special as others who may be consuming wine instead.
If you can’t decide who will be your designated driver to this far away location, take advantage of the free shuttle from the White Elephant Hotel!
Wherever your drinking adventures may take you to explore the many nuances of the fall, savor this beautiful time on island as you celebrate the season. Now is an opportune time to reconnect with friends and acquaintances that you haven’t seen for awhile as you toast to the bounty of the season and all it has to offer.
Jenny Benzie is an Advanced Sommelier and owner of
Épernay Wine & Spirits at 1 N. Beach Street
You can follow her at @epernaywines and #yeswayepernay.