Best of NH 2019 Breweries, Wine, Spirits, Cocktails & Bars
Whether you're in the mood for a local brew or want expert advice on buying a bottle of wine, these winners have you covered.
Bar Vibe: Chef Jordan Scott has moved from Odelay in downtown Keene to a joint effort at Machina Arts Kitchen & ArtBar, located just off Keene’s Central Square. And arty it is. The comfortable bar with glowing red columns and distinctive art installations, in cooperation with Machina Arts, bring excitement for the arts to this social space in the Monadnock Region. Look for monthly prix fixe, multicourse dinners this summer that feature Chef Scott’s sensibility for French and Asian flavors. Bartender Becca Paine offers a distinctive bar program rooted in wild harvested and organic ingredients for an eclectic cocktail and mocktail list, which includes a “Cure-all” with turmeric, a lemonade with Earl Grey tea ice cubes and house-made Italian-style sodas.
Fun Craft Cocktails: Sometimes good things can be taken just a tad too seriously. We’re all for excellent, considered cocktails with ingredients we need to Google, but sometimes you want to have a little more fun with your drink. At The Birch on Elm in Manchester, find the perfect happy medium of expertly crafted cocktails with a splash of lightheartedness. Many of the classics are here — French 75, sazerac, etc. — in addition to their own elegant creations, plus an impressive brunch cocktail list you should absolutely check out some Sunday. But, back to the fun. For instance, they once offered a traditional blue Hawaiian (with homemade, from-scratch ingredients, of course). Another time there was the Clouds and Dirt, a pineapple, smoked rhubarb, orgeat, lemon, gin, mezcal concoction with a poof of cotton candy on top. These special drinks come and go, so you’ll just have to stop in once a week or so. Darn.
IPAs: Spyglass Brewing Company in Nashua is a nano brewery (meaning very small) with a taproom offering full pours, half pours, flights, and a limited food menu. If you need more sustenance with your brews, you can bring in your own food or have it delivered. The folks at Spyglass are really into IPAs, and their love for them certainly shows. Check the website to see what’s currently on tap, and hopefully that will include Fuzzy Logic, a New England double IPA, or the Stack Trace Denali, an intriguing oat IPA, which is also a hazy New England style.
Out-of-the-box Mead: Ancient Fire Mead & Cider in Manchester is taking a really old beverage (you might even say ancient) and putting their own modern twist on it. Traditionally, mead is simply wine fermented from honey. Jason and Margot Phelps, founders of Ancient Fire, are doing all sorts of interesting things with this basic idea. For instance, this spring they created the Much Higher Love, a raspberry blossom mead blended with passion fruit and more raspberry blossom honey, which was then dry hopped like an IPA. Visit the welcoming taproom to see what’s on tap next.
Wine and Food Pairings: Wine bars don’t always have the best reputation — they can be pricey and intimidating, discouraging people who want to learn more about wine. Find the exact opposite attitude at Raleigh Wine Bar + Eatery in Portsmouth. Whether you’re a casual wine drinker or oenophile, this is a great place to learn about or enjoy wine with a knowledgeable staff that can recommend excellent pairings. And what excellent pairing options there are — the food menu is seasonal, modern yet approachable. Intriguingly, the wine list focuses on natural wines, which essentially means they’re made with organic or biodynamic fruit and native yeast, no additives, fining or filtering, and minimal sulfur. It opens up a new and interesting world of wine to explore.