Best of NH 2023 This & That

Here are our editors' picks that don't fit perfectly into any category, but are definitely things you should know about!

Buzzless Bar Trend

Did you know that January is New Hampshire Mocktail Month? Non-alcoholic drinks are all the buzz, and New Hampshire Liquor Commission has started teaming up with Brown-Forman and nearly 40 local restaurants to promote mocktails throughout the state during January. Past creations have included The Rooftop at the Envio in Portsmouth’s “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”, made with seedlip spice, raspberry syrup, rosemary honey, lemon and Q Mixers Club Soda, and The Barn at Bull Meadow in Concord’s “Forest in the Meadow,” made with maple syrup, orange spritz, orange soda and cola. The month’s libation festivities include an online recipe guide, featuring recipes from each participating restaurant, complete with all of the ingredients, garnishes and tips needed to create your own craft mocktail from home. explore.

Live Concert Art 

StevepSteve Paquin of Concord has almost single-handedly (actually, he uses both hands) added a new artistic dimension to the music festival experience. While concert-goes squander billions of pixels on thousands of bad digital photos and movies, Paquin sits quietly in view of the stage and creates permanent works of art — paintings on canvas — that immortalize the ephemeral bliss of noodle-dancing in a field while a jam band cuts a deep groove. He posts the images he creates and sells prints to fans (and often to band members) as colorful tributes (and useful reminders about when and where a favorite concert took place). He also live-paints for other events, weddings and such. Find him on Facebook under Steve Paquin Art.

Community Gathering Space

Crackskulls Coffee And BooksThere’s nothing like a good café — but not all cafés are created equal. There’s that rare, special café, filled to the brim with neighbors and community members happy to be sipping beverages, nibbling on pastries, talking shop and at leisure. Newmarket’s Crackskull’s Coffee and Books is, indubitably, that special café. The odd, mismatched furniture, typewriter (inexplicably) glued to the wall, rows of carefully-curated used books and bins of carefully-curated used records concoct an ever-soothing potion that could cure even the worst of days. Over 20 years in business, and home to an ever-growing number of community meetings and events, Crackskull’s is a lovely space to slow down, read a book, play a boardgame or simply converse with a friend or stranger. It’s that rare, special café that feels like home.

Tees, Action Figures & Local Pride   

Wicked Joyful Tender T Shirt 1Not many people love being from New Hampshire as much as Nick Lavallee does. His art-toy and apparel brand, Wicked Joyful, distills every ounce of that Granite State passion into for-purchase collectibles, including jokey, handmade action figures of New England heroes, shirts with regional slogans and his whimsical campaign to publicly declare Manchester the Chicken Tender Capital of the World (which, it is). As a former stand-up comedian, Lavallee knows the power that happiness and laughter hold. With Wicked Joyful, he’s hoping to spread that power throughout the state — and, hopefully, the world.

Highland Cow

The Highland cattle at Loudon’s Miles Smith Farm are all Scottish at heart (or at least have not denied it) but none quite as Scottish as Curious Bleu. Bleu was singled out early for his charming demeanor (and immortalized in the children’s book: The Curious Little Calf Named Bleu) but this young bull is most famous for clopping into the NH Scottish Highland Games opening ceremonies each September wearing a N.H. Tartan sash and carrying a young Scottish lass on his back. Afterwards he sits in the shade to pose for photos with hundreds of kids each year. His next parade might expand his fame, nationally. Organizers are hoping to bring Bleu to New York City for the Tartan Day Parade that put Scottish pride on display in all its many colors (and species).

Pastoral Progressivism   

WorldfellowshipThe social quest for global harmony finds a natural groove at the World Fellowship Center, Conway, where progressives and liberals and anyone, really, seeking a little peace and hope in this dubious and violent age can at least get away from it all for a while. For 80 years the camp has maintained a rich history of “speaking truth to power, defending civil liberties and promoting peace.” Along with providing space for gatherings and workshops on social issues, the center hosts performances, “Fun Nights,” events and weddings. “We envision a world where people are deeply rooted in our shared humanity and the pursuit of justice,” reads the mission statement (in part).

Free Food Truck 

Reds Good VibesRed’s Good Vibes serves the local community with good food and “good vibes.” You won’t be able to miss the big red food truck when it rolls into town, but the hearts behind it are even bigger. Started by three siblings in honor of keeping their brother’s dream of owning a food truck alive, the nonprofit provides free, delicious meals to his community year-round with no questions asked. Their mission is to provide support and relief with kindness and no judgement for those currently living unsheltered, seniors, veterans, families or anyone with food security. Visit their website to learn more about how you can help and where they will be stopping by next.

Community Event Barn  

Tucked along the Merrimack River in Hooksett is a picturesque gathering space for not only weddings, but collaborative community events, too. The Oscar Barn was built to celebrate all phases of life. Whether you are getting married under the foliage in the fall or sitting back and relaxing during a club meeting or 60th birthday party with family and friends, the multifaceted venue provides unique and quality meeting opportunities, ranging from Scottish spring celebrations to corporate get togethers that keep guests, nonprofits and businesses alike coming back for more.

Car Club   

New Hampshire Muscle Cars is the largest muscle car club in New England with over 9,500 muscle car owners, racers and enthusiasts from all New England states, but the majority its activity is in the State of NH. It’s all run by a group of 25 dedicated volunteers and seeks to promote the love of these gas guzzling road monsters (and their more elegant kin) through a Facebook group, a website, at local club events, at car shows, at the track, and at club organized car cruises. In the process they support local charities and causes, which is nice, but the thing that really fuels the passion of muscle car enthusiasts is getting those amazing hunks of metal out where they belong‚ on the rumbling road to adventure.

Categories: Best of NH Winners