The holiday season starts with an Oktoberfest “prost!” and wraps up with a cheers to the New Year — with nights in between marked by festive rounds of food and drink.
Rather than drinking more this holiday, consider drinking well. Make better choices with our guide: Some of Long Island’s most passionate beer, wine and cocktail mavens advise on what to serve or bring to holiday parties — as well as in-season drinks to seek out on the town.
Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola is a low-key neighborhood watering hole with an ambitious beer program. Owner Vincent Minutella and barman Bob Miller know volumes about brews, whether they’re talking about easy-to-find seasonals, local breweries or esoteric finds. They’ve recently converted from pint glasses to stemware, yet another sign of their seriousness. Industry wisdom says stemmed beer glasses in various shapes are better for aromatics — like wine. Here’s a short list of what they recommend for holiday parties, gifts and what to seek out for a holiday drink in a visit to their bar.
What to serve: Something like a Gaffel Kölsch (about $12 for a six-pack) or a König Pilsener (about $10 for six) “because pilsners are popular again,” Minutella says. “You can pretty much guarantee that any German brew is going to be a quality beer made from good ingredients.”
What to bring: A 32- or 64-ounce growler from Garvies Point Brewery, a new spot in Glen Cove from Mark Scoroposki and Ben Kossoff that opened its tasting room in September. Through Thanksgiving, it will have Pumpkin Picker Saison ($18 for 64 ounces) that “tastes like a pumpkin pie,” said Scoroposki, and on and off a Hop Aboard Double Rice IPA ($22 for 64 ounces) that’s dry with a pungent aroma and hops from the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand. “This is a local brewery that the beer geeks are talking about,” Miller says.
What to seek out: Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Oatmeal Stout ($7 for 5 ounces) has been a sought-after brew from the Copenhagen brewery for several years, and it’s available on tap here through the season. What makes it so great? This malty stout with notes of chocolate has been brewed with high-quality coffee from a French press.
Black Sheep Ale House, 78 Second St., Mineola; 516-307-1280, blacksheepalehouse.com
For the season of eating, we’re focused on amari, an oft-used spirit when it comes to the creation of an appetite-whetting aperitivo or the post-meal digestivo. Doug Brickel, partner at the super-stylish Cork and Kerry in Floral Park and Rockville Centre, suggests keeping it simple.
What to serve: Aperol (about $22 for about 25 ounces) is sweeter, less bitter than Campari and lower in alcohol content. For an easy-drinking Italian-style cocktail, an Aperol spritz is a festive cocktail that’s built in the glass over ice, with 3 ounces of Aperol, 2 ounces of sparkling wine such as Prosecco and an ounce of club soda, garnished with an orange slice if you’d like.
What to bring: Brickel developed a taste for Fernet-Branca (about $30 for about 25 ounces) when visiting Argentina years ago, where an Italian expat community made its drink of choice, Fernet and Coke. Today, Fernet-Branca is a go-to among many in the restaurant industry as a digestivo (or a shot) served straight up with a twist.
What to seek out: Brickel recommends the new Mayor Tom cocktail with Sfumato Rabarbaro, made with Chinese rhubarb grown in Trentino, an overproofed rye, lemon and raspberry for $13.
Cork and Kerry, 24 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre; no phone
Cork and Kerry at The Roast, 143 Tulip Ave., Floral Park; no phone
Wine aficionado and French native Christophe Lhopitault came to New York in 1992 to work in the dining room at Daniel. By 2011, he opened Lake Side Emotions, a boutique wine shop in Stony Brook Village. In March, he partnered with chef and James Beard-nominee Guy Reuge at Le Vin in Lake Grove, a restaurant serving inventive, seasonal small and share plates, and a deep food-friendly wine selection. Lhopitault’s shop, however, focuses on wines for all occasions. Here, we’ve stuck to reds.
What to serve: The Cote-de-Brouilly from 2013 ($23) is an organic, unfiltered, medium-bodied Beaujolais that importer Kermit Lynch describes as “deliciousness with class.”
What to bring: French Bordeaux will never go out of style, such as this one from Domaine de Cambes from 2007: a rich, well-balanced wine to mark a special occasion ($55).
What to seek out: The 2014 Twelve Clones Pinot Noir ($32) from California’s Morgan Winery is a fragrant, silky pour with notes of oak and red berries that’s food friendly or robust enough to drink on its own.
Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique, 113 Main St., Stony Brook; 631-675-2750
Le Vin LG, 356 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove; 631-979-9463, levinlg.com