New wine and cocktail bars are popping up around Long Island, including Citrus Wine Bar in Melville. NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and food writer Marie Elena Martinez check it out. Credit: Anthony Florio, Linda Rosier

Wine and cocktails come first, food second, at a handful of newly opened bars around Long Island. From stylish wine bars focused on boutique vineyards and charcuterie to rock star cocktail bars where mustachioed bartenders mix up Instagrammable tipples with cutting-edge booze you’ve probably never heard of, these new beverage will keep you sated through autumn.

Citrus Wine Bar

901 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville; 631-223-4074, citruswinebar.com

Michelle and Rolando Adamovicz panicked when they heard a franchise chain was interested in leasing the vacant space next to their decade-old 110 Bagel Market and Bistro in Melville. “We wanted to figure out what we could put into the space to keep it local,” Michelle Adamovicz says. The couple settled on a wine bar with a retractable wall that can seat the shop’s breakfast and lunch crowds, while simultaneously “adding something different to the area in the evenings." Local musicians play on Thursdays.

Anchored by a U-shaped marble bar, surrounded by highballs and bistro tables, Citrus focuses on family vineyards and hard-to-find bottles. 

TO DRINK: The wine list circles the globe with nearly all bottles available by the glass. Three rosés, including a sparkling starter in Cuvée de Barons, join four bubbles including Spanish cava, Italian prosecco and two French Champagnes. On the white side, there’s requisite pinot grigio and Sancerre, but also a lovely Hungarian Little Cricket Gruner-Veltliner and a fruity German Georg Gustav Huff Vom Luss Reisling that even the Reisling-averse will enjoy.

Pinot noirs from Italy and California join a peppery Argentine Malbec from San Huberto Estate as well as big, full reds. Glasses range from $11 to $18 while bottles go from $40 to $149. Not a wine person? There’s a specialty cocktail list and full bar. Of note: The 5 O’Clock Somewhere ($14) — because, isn't it always? — with Casa Mexico tequila, orange, mango, agave, and lime.

TO EAT: Build your own regional charcuterie board ($35) by choosing three meats and two cheeses from either Spain or Italy. There's a selection of substantial tartines ($16-$18) — the jamón Serrano, manchego and fig being a standout — or go for smaller cheese plates such as baked Camembert with piquillo jam or a grilled Argentine provoleta with chimichurri.

A Spanish board is served at Citrus Wine Bar in...

A Spanish board is served at Citrus Wine Bar in Melville. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Hunter and Thief : A Modern Cocktail Bar

21 West Hoffman Ave., Lindenhurst

Jonathan Gonzalez, a three-time best cocktail winner of the New York Cocktail Expo, as well as veteran of spots like Blackbird Kitchen in Wantagh and South Shore Drive in Sayville, has been waiting over four years to see his dream cocktail bar, Hunter and Thief, come to life. On his fifth night open, the 60-seat dining room and 18-seat bar is full and he is grateful. 

“For me, personally, as a bartender, it’s my proving ground,” Gonzalez explains. “I’m going to make amazing cocktails on par with Manhattan, and then some.” Bridging the gap between the two places he loves — NYC and Long Island — “this bar has been in my sketchbook for years,” Gonzalez says. “This bar is a love letter to Long Island, to our family. And to all the cocktail bars in NYC that we like.”

TO DRINK: Hunter and Thief’s bartenders know their stuff, patiently educating patrons on the bounty of spirits like ayuuk, derived from pasilla mixe, a chili sourced in Oaxaca, Mexico. It's among the ingredients in the Reflection of Natural History cocktail, which also has tequila, strawberry-boshi (a Japanese sour salted preparation), lime juice and habanero agave. It’s these kinds of unusual pairings that are set to become staples on Gonzalez’s ever-evolving cocktail menu.

“Essentially, it’s our version of a spicy strawberry margarita,” explains Gonzalez. Trendy cocktails like espresso martinis and Aperol spritzes are on draft, and no/low-alcohol drinks that include alternatives such as ginger beer and Fernet Branca. There’s even a menu dedicated to the best variations of old-fashioneds from pioneer cocktail bars of the early 2000s scene like Death and Co. and Milk and Honey.

Additionally, there are funky orange wines, fancy Billecart-Salmon rosé bubbles, canned and bottled cocktails like Whitebox’s Negroni ($10) plus ales and lagers. Cocktails, which will evolve with the seasons and change regularly, run $12-$15.

TO EAT: Snacks and comfort food include seasonal ricotta toast ($12), fried chicken ($16), fish and chips ($18), and a burger ($18).  

A cocktail called Reflection of Natural History is served at...

A cocktail called Reflection of Natural History is served at Hunter and Thief : A Modern Cocktail Bar in Lindenhurst. Credit: Corey Sipkin

The State Room

67 W Main St., Patchogue; 631-447-2337, thestateroomli.com

A jewel box of a cocktail bar with small plates, The State Room is just the first concept to open in the historic building that, from 1996 until last year, was the BrickHouse Brewery. Chef Francis Derby and beverage director Bert Wiegand are on a mission to elevate the dining scene in a town perhaps more known for the drinking scene. But Wiegand, who ran the beverage program at Tullulah's in Bay Shore, is a serious player in the mixology space, churning out intoxicating (no pun) flavor combinations, styled beautifully. 

“This is an anti-dive bar,” Derby says. “A place with red-velvet banquettes that makes a proper old-fashioned, a place where the chef can really have some fun because there are only 30 seats.”

Up a flight of steps (equipped with a stair lift chair), The State Room occupies a fraction of 67 Main St. with the spacious downstairs (formerly the brewery) in transition to another full-scale concept for the group. Whatever evolves downstairs, one thing’s for sure — the cocktails will be killer.

TO DRINK: The drinks menu is divided into four sections: spirited, bright, low-alcohol, and spirit-free and run between $10 and $16. On tap for fall? The Dusty Trail cocktail: bourbon, lemon, orange vanilla oleo, blood orange Pellegrino topped with egg white foam and lemon peel garnish, and the Dear Earnest, made with coconut rum, absinthe, black lime, black walnut bitters and garnished with black lime. Wiegand’s signature cocktails include The Proper Pour with gin, anisette, Grand Marnier and Angostura bitters and the Amoxicillin with ginger-infused mezcal, tumeric-honey, lemon, anisette and peated scotch.

TO EAT: Like the beverages, the food menu changes seasonally and at the chef’s whim. Recommended: the parkerhouse rolls ($11) that come with house-churned butter and a rotating seasonal marmalade, beef tartare on crumpets ($18), pastas such as linguine with local clams and fennel confit ($25), and small-scale mains like miso-glazed mackerel and a short rib ssam ($38) with bok choy kimchi and sweet soy aioli.

 

A cocktail named Dear Earnest at The State Room in Patchogue.

A cocktail named Dear Earnest at The State Room in Patchogue. Credit: Stephanie Foley

The Wine Line

30 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay; 631-358-3522, thewineline.com

The wine bar-meets-cocktail lounge owned by the Milana family, also behind the neighboring Stellina Ristorante, is a stylish yet comfortable spot with velvet navy couches, low marble tables and an industrial city feel. The wine list is succinct but refreshing: New and Old World wines are featured in equal measure but all feel like discoveries, and most are available as individual glasses that run from $12 to $24.

“Every 90 days, we want to roll inventory, keep on changing," Giulia Milana says. "That’s what makes us different.” It also keeps guests coming back to try the new wines added to the list.

TO DRINK: Prime for fall, on the red side, California wines like a Saddlers Well pinot noir ($48) and Elyse C’est Si Bon red blend ($72) join European counterparts including Hermanos Hernaiz El Pedal Tempranillo ($48) from Rioja Alta, Spain, and full-bodied Italian classics including a Tuscan Villa La Pagliaia Chianti Classico ($48), as well as a Valpolicella, a Barolo, and a wallet-busting Tuscan San Guido Sassicaia ($599). Those who don't want to invest in an entire bottle can try four of the pricier ($250-$599) selections by the glass, since the shop uses a high-tech preservation system.

On the white side, the Jean-Marie Reverdy & Fils Caillottes Sancerre ($72) is particularly crisp, joining a 2019 Capensis Silene chardonnay from South Africa ($72), a 2016 Grassi Ribolla Gialla ($96) from Napa, and two pinot grigios — a Zufini and a 2021 Bertani Velante (both $48). If you’re more into cocktails, try Giulia’s Martini, a stiff riff on an espresso martini, made with Jägermeister cold brew, Stoli vanilla and espresso ($18), and then call yourself an Uber.

TO EAT: The Wine Line’s bites are what Milana calls “Stellina’s version of bar food.” Fresh tuna piled onto fried wonton tostadas ($25) join six flatbreads ($15-$20) with toppings including truffles and mushrooms are all made on pinsa, Roman-style dough, and larger plates like meatball and BBQ pulled pork sliders round out the offerings. Check out their website for upcoming wine tasting events through the fall.

Kendra Kirby pours a glass of wine at The Wine...

Kendra Kirby pours a glass of wine at The Wine Line in Oyster Bay. Credit: Linda Rosier

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