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 for this deal 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.
A crimson curtain rises to unveil the operas, nationally touring musicals, children's shows, and films that pass under the historic movie palace's gilded ceiling. Originally built in 1926 as a home for vaudeville performances and motion pictures, the grand venue has survived more than eight decades with the help of The Garde Arts Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization that formed in 1985 to both preserve the building and pursue its mission "to engage, enrich, entertain, and inspire the region of Greater New London." Today, the center stages a slew of performances and events that keep guests on the edges of all 1,472 seats.
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.
Newspaper clippings placed within Charlie O’s Tavern’s extensive menu detail the exploits of the Patriots and the Red Sox. High-definition televisions let guests watch sports history unfold on gridirons and baseball diamonds. When no big games are on, the staff arranges trivia nights or opens up the pool tables for free play. Diners with a competitive streak can compete over darts after finishing a competitive eating contest or trying to paint a reproduction of Picasso's Guernica on a napkin with barbecue sauce.
Inside Maharaja Indian Restaurant, the air is heady with the scents of traditional Tandoor-grilled Indian meats and flavorful curries, all served in a dining room done in striking hues of royal blue and canary. It's easy to feel like you've been whisked away to somewhere in Bombay, but if you look outside, you can see sweeping views of Rhode Island's Narragansett Beach. The restaurant occupies an upper floor of the Village Inn, a stone's throw from the shoreline. Beach views provide a temporary distraction, but the menu commands most of the attention, with spicy lamb vindaloo, Halal goat biryani, vegan channa masala, and ten different types of naan bread.
The team members at Rok Bar n Grill describe their domain as a "rock n roll-themed establishment" that cultivates an immersive, party-centric experience for its guests. But while dramatic decor and architecture feed eyes, and a packed schedule of events beckons ears, it's a menu of artfully crafted American favorites that keeps mouths and bellies satisfied.