Jim Scoggins first felt the rocking of a ship's deck in the 1950s on the rolling waters of Lake Champlain. Though he traveled south and found himself in healthcare administration for the next few decades, he never lost the passion for sailing—and eventually returned to New England to conquer more waves in the 1980s. With Sail the Sounds LLC established at three local ports, Captain Jim now uses his original sailing craft, an O'Day 39, as part of his training and charter fleet. He and his wife, Teresa, helm an ASA-certified training center, charter service, and cruising club to set guests out on the sparkling waters of Mystic River and Mystic Harbor. Captains pilot three Hunter yachts for chartered trips, as well as six Hunter 240 sailboats for captain rentals, sailing-club events, and classes teaching technique for keelboats, coastal navigation, and safely chartering parties of water-fearing cats.
Owner John Graham, an alumnus of notable Connecticut restaurants such as Constantine’s and Frank’s Gourmet Grille, opened The Hearsay Bar & Grille with his wife, Kellie. Located in New London, a town close to their hearts, the pair dishes up a menu of casual eats, from their signature lobster bisque to slabs of fall-off-the-bone pork ribs. An advocate for locally sourced spirits, The Hearsay is the first establishment in the area to serve Onyx Moonshine and Kra-ze Vodka, which, like Yale’s valedictorians, are produced in local fermentation tanks. Bartenders mix drinks with Grey Goose vodka and Johnnie Walker whiskey beneath the lambent glow of four widescreen TVs that entertain diners beside a rotating slate of disc-spinning DJs and acoustic crooners.
Harp & Dragon's casual atmosphere sets the stage for classic pub eats alongside a full bar with 36 beers on tap. Hosts of sandwiches and burgers dive into friendly mouths and laps, such as the Harp & Dragon burger ($8.95), which piles a half-pound beef patty, sauteed mushrooms, melted Swiss, and leek sauce. Dive into rich, hearty bowls of irish stew ($11.95), or revel in the steadfast meat and dairy delights of a cheesesteak ($12.95). Savor traditional flavors in forms such as bangers and mash ($14.95), succulent irish sausage draped over a throne of garlic mashed potatoes swimming in shiraz onion gravy, or fish and chips ($14.95), named after misprinted instructions for ice fishermen.
With a rich backstory and 15 years in the brew business, Cottrell Brewing Co. opens its brewery doors for free tours and tastings of its award-winning libations. Tours are available every half-hour on Friday’s from 3–6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1–5 p.m. Show respect for the flagship Old Yankee Ale, awarded an A+ by the founders of Beer Advocate for its citrus hop aroma and social skills around burgers and french fries. The brewery's merchandise includes the logoed pint glass ($5), a T-shirt ($15), and a sweatshirt ($25) perfect for soaking up any beer missed by the mouth. Cottrell Brewing Co. inhabits 9,000 square feet of a factory once owned by the brewmaster's great-great-grandfather, who ran a highly successful printing press and sub–4-minute mile.
The Ivory Restaurant's dishes exude artful elegance, much like its picturesque views of the shoreline. The Ivory's grilled baby back ribs stand as securely as a miniature tower. Its sweet-potato- and parmesan-crusted salmon resembles a snow-capped mountain, and its desserts blend a palate of bright colors on plates. Diners munch on these edible displays in a simple dining room with golden walls and cozy tables while live music plays in the background on select evenings.
Recently named the state’s best family dining restaurant by Connecticut Managzine, Chips’ Pub III fills the bellies of its guests with steaks, seafood, and other homestyle dishes. An impressive list of 15 hand-pressed burgers, each char-broiled over an open hearth, dominates the menu, which also features Chips’ specialties such as the Primo prime rib with housemade horseradish, and platters of scallops, shrimp, and calamari.