Bitter & Esters brew maestros shepherd beer aficionados 21 and older through the basics of crafting their own libations during the two-hour introductory brewing courses. These knowledgeable instructors sprinkle their lessons with useful tidbits as their students immerse themselves in the process, communally brewing a bubbly batch of hops-laden liquid like witches on Super Bowl Sunday. Classes cover need-to-know facts about extracts, malts, grains, and yeasts as well as common trouble-shooting methods for when batches go awry. The hands on lesson includes all the necessary ingredients and reference materials required to whip up a hearty brew, with starter kits available for purchases if students want to continue fashioning beer in their home or underground speakeasies. Classes conclude with students sampling the fruits of previous home brewed labors, opening their taste buds to all the different possibilities craft beer making affords.
Little Town NYC unabashedly hearts New York. Of its three restaurants, two are located in iconic Manhattan spots: one in Union Square, the other on Theater District’s Restaurant Row. Little Town’s fancy for the Empire State shines through on the menu, too, with homestyle dishes such as the Adirondack chicken pesto and an Angus beef burger topped with crispy Berkshire bacon. The Suburb Backyard BBQ platter is piled high with enough buffalo wings, Nathan's hot dogs, and other locally inspired fare to feed a family of four.
Little Town NYC also takes great pride in its beer list, which features more than 100 local brews, including IPAs and amber ales that hail from breweries in Long Island, Ithaca, and Saratoga Springs. At the Restaurant Row location, you can enjoy a pilsner from Coney Island while sitting in a booth constructed from the beach’s old wooden boardwalk.
At Renault Winery Resort & Golf, a glimpse into history begins at a wine barrel. Fashioned from the top of an old oak cask, a gold-lettered sign marks the entrance to the state-registered historic site, where staff cultivates and harvests 12 local and international grape varietals across more than 31 acres of vineyards. This flourishing estate owes its existence to one man, whose journey began nearly 150 years ago.
In the mid-1800s, vintner Louis Nicholas Renault plied his trade in Rheims, France. When a parasitic aphid nearly crippled France’s winemaking industry, Renault fled to California, where the insect struck again. He followed rumors of an aphid-resistant American grape varietal to the fields of New Jersey where he found a climate similar to that of his native France—and his winemaking flourished.
Not even Prohibition could halt his operation, which continued under a special permit. After his death in 1948, the winery continued to expand for the next five decades, adding a chateau, 50-room inn, and restaurant by 2001. Since then, Renault Winery has offered lodging and entertainment in addition to the fruits of its vines.
Visitors to the Tuscany House won’t remember crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfectly normal. The House’s decadent lobby, an inner courtyard with a garden, mimics the villas of Italy: its marble columns and curving staircase lead up to a mezzanine constantly patrolled by at least one member of the Swiss Guard. Off the lobby, hallways lead to private rooms and suites filled with king-size beds and heavy wood furnishings.
Joseph's Restaurant melds the estate’s Mediterranean charm with New Jersey influence. Executive Chef Joseph DeGennaro—whom food critic Bob Bickell described as “outstanding” in his Restaurant Report—fills plates with Tuscan burgers and pastas tossed with grilled chicken and lobster.
Arbor-covered corridors and rambling lawns dappled with statuettes lead to the winery. On tours, guides lead visitors past the mixing and fermentation tanks while revealing the steps of the winemaking process. After the tour, groups select samples from more than 32 varieties of wine. The on-site wineglass museum lets groups dive further into the world of wine, displaying glassware dating back to the 13th century.
Visitors don’t have to join in the harvest to experience the grounds firsthand. Vineyard Golf, an 18-hole championship-level course, winds through the rolling vineyards. Players drive down open fairways, avoid five water hazards, and putt onto greens nestled against the rows of plantings.
Swirling, sniffing, and sipping are as familiar as breathing to the sommeliers at The Wine Cellar. They invite patrons to join them in complimentary wine tastings to be sure they’ll find just the right bottle to complement a romantic meal, dinner party, or moped christening. In addition to small-batch and local wines from boutique vineyards, the shop imports pinot noirs from around the globe, shirazes from Australia, and Italian vinos of all varieties.
In 1955, Joseph and Margaret Gerard bought a liquor store near Lovelandtown Bridge in Point Pleasant, from which they sold spirits and wine to their community. Members of the same family still operate Gerard's Wine & Spirits today, but they distribute bottles across the country as well as locally. Staff members—all well-versed in the world of wine—curate an inventory of high-quality varietals. For a sampling of wines ranked highly by experts, check out bottles rated at 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator.
Every Saturday, wine is free at Elegant Wine & Liquors. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the shop holds a complimentary tasting. Here, the resident sommeliers welcome patrons to sample wines from Italy, New Zealand, and France, as well as domestic vintages from California vineyards. High-caliber spirits from Grey Goose, Bacardi, and Tanqueray also line the densely occupied shelves, reflecting the refined palate of the shop’s owner, Stefanie, who has spent more than a decade in the beer and wine industry. She shows her savvy not only through the eclectic and sprawling selection, but also through customer-oriented touches such as free gift wrapping, a more aesthetic alternative to ensconcing gift wine bottles in slightly bigger wine bottles.
New York Man Suits infuses a healthy dose of style into any wardrobe with a wide variety of high-quality men's attire ranging from sportswear to tuxedos. Sheath silhouettes with suits, dress shirts, and outerwear from brands such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Kenneth Cole. A multitude of ties will festively festoon necks, while shoes free patrons from wearing steel-toed bunny slippers to work. New York Man also offers on-site alterations as well as items for younger lads.