I have never been to Sag Harbor in the summer. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, I imagine this tiny village pulls in a tony crowd in white linen and nautical stripes. Perhaps they sit at tables on the sidewalk and drink rosé and slurp oysters! And there is nothing wrong with that. I also love rosé (even in winter), and I am quite fond of nautical stripes.
But I quite prefer the reality of this little town in the winter. Even when the sun shines and the wind doesn't whip, the streets are quiet and there is something I love about wandering those deserted roads, with my cap pulled down over my ears and my collar flipped up. But I love even more to come in from the cold and wiggle my fingers in front of the fire, with the knowledge that a stiff cocktail is in the works or that there is a sugary confection to be inhaled.
Here, then, are five delicious reasons to go to Sag Harbor right now.
1. A Jack Rose at Baron's Cove
I had never heard of a Jack Rose before my trip to Sag Harbor and Baron's Cove, but it was a favorite of Steinbeck and Steinbeck lived in Sag Harbor and he had a dog called Charley (mine is Charlie, but you see the point I'm making). In fact, I booked a package called Travels with Charley, which included a copy of Steinbeck's book by the same name and I read his travelogue while sipping his favorite cocktail and it felt very fitting. Also delicious.
If you are unfamiliar (like I was), a Jack Rose is typically made with applejack, grenadine, and lemon juice. The bartender here swapped in apple brandy and house-made grenadine for a tart and bracing drink that's the perfect antidote to the chill outside.
2. A Donut at Grindstone Coffee & Donuts
It is possible, when presented with the dizzying display of hot-pink, poppy-studded, or marshmallow-topped donuts, you would opt for one of the more exciting options and I am sure you would not be disappointed. But when it comes to donuts, I am something of a purist. I can recommend both the classic glazed and the cinnamon-sugar and I was very tempted by the Nutella-s'mores version.
P.S.: In case you need an excuse to enjoy a donut, owner Kyle Shanahan uses only the best ingredients, including local milk and eggs.
3. The Breakfast Burrito at Estia's Little Kitchen
A little over a mile outside of Sag Harbor, en route to Bridgehampton, is Estia's Little Kitchen. It is a testament to the farm-to-table food here that, on a Saturday afternoon in the dead of winter, hours before the Super Bowl, the restaurant was packed. I can only speak for the breakfast burrito, which pulled off an amazing feat of simultaneous fluffiness, cheesiness, and chorizo-induced heat. But even after I polished my own meal off, I was eyeing my neighbor's omelet, which came with two hearty slabs of sourdough.
4. Orange Wine at Channing Daughters Winery
I am convinced that the only way to really learn about wine is to drink it. In fact, in order to know what you like and what you don't, I think you must drink quite a bit of wine. Luckily, this is not a difficult task! And I highly recommend doing it at the Channing Daughters Winery.
If you are traveling alone and express an interest in wine, you may very well be treated to some truly special wines. My favorite was an orange wine called Envelope. It's basically a white wine that's fermented with its skins, so the color is closer to amber. It smells like a dessert wine — all apricots and honey — but the taste is dry and slightly nutty, almost like sherry.
5. A Pint of Mint Chip Ice Cream from Joe & Liza's
I don't understand people who don't like ice cream in the winter. Also, mint-chip ice cream should be green. I learned about this small-batch ice cream company while getting cinnamon and sugar all over my face at Grindstone (see above). A fellow donut-lover was raving about the stuff and so, on my way out of town, I picked up a pint (okay, two) at Schiavani's Market. I was incredibly worried that it would completely melt by the time I arrived in Brooklyn, but no, it was just melted enough for me to eat some for lunch and it may be my new favorite.
Have you been to Sag Harbor? What's your favorite bite?