Life on Long Island
Vines & Hops (and coffee beans)
When it comes to successful social spots, coffeehouses have always been a part of the mix on LI -- but while trendy, the general lack of adult beverages can be a deterrent to those who prefer a glass of fine wine while out for a drink.
Then again, the current local craft beer rage continues to swell -- and while the finding of Long Island-born suds at pubs is not a difficult undertaking, most bars that offer such products rarely also specialize in vino --– and even fewer feature baristas that can brew up beans into liquid pick-me-ups.
However, over at Vines & Hops in Riverhead, connoisseurs of each can simultaneously sit, relax and sip together.
A new cafe and lounge, Vines and Hops (V&H) just saw its grand opening weekend (Sept. 21-22), and has already drawn a steady crowd. Mainly lit by dimmed, indoor street lamps, V&H splits its personality between the look of a winery tasting room (tables built from casks, with vintner barrels also on display) and the feel of a hip hangout (the back of the room holds soft couches and candles). The menu is also eclectic, offering a variety of small entree plates and cheeses plus an assortment of artisanal dishes (including cake, pie and other desserts).
As for the wines, according to co-owner Jeff McKay (his wife Christine is the other owner), the selection will consist of highly rated options (deemed 90 and above on the Wine Spectator 100-point review list). But if you’d rather go for something caffeinated, the brewing corner of the house (decorated with empty bean sacks) offers several popular coffee drinks from which to choose.
Meanwhile, craft beer fans should be sure to check the taps, as Suffolk-based Blue Point Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company and Southampton Publick House (including Publick House’s seasonal giant Pumpkin Ale as of this writing) all currently have levers -- as does an India Pale Ale from the Dogfish Head Brewery, which may hail from off the Island (Delaware), but is nonetheless a popular craft choice.
Much of what’s to come from Vines & Hops is still in the development phase, but McKay says that midnight closing times on weekends are likely, and that live, acoustic music is also planned for the future. But for now, what is certain is that downtown Riverhead -- a place already home to a bustling aquarium, a refurbished cultural center and a well-reviewed restaurant -- has just received yet another twist on what sort of things one can do while either hanging out or passing through.
Vines & Hops: 127 Main St., Riverhead, 631-369-3100