Hola, bucket list bars fans! Yolie and James had a great 2019 searching for the oldest and coolest bars in the USA. After returning from Ireland we closed out the year with a couple of quick adventures to West Virginia and Connecticut. The final destination in West Virginia was the Three Gables Club in Hilltop you can find them in facebook, a scenic 6 hour drive from Annapolis. After exiting I-81 we headed west to Hilltop but we were surprised to stumble upon the Devil's Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, VA. It was a little before noon so we waited a few minutes in the parking lot until the brewery opened. It was well worth the wait as we had a great time with Nadia and Jamie tasting the fine Devil's Backbone brews like the amber O'Fest Lager and the refreshing Homeward Bound Harvest Ale. We would have liked to have stayed longer but we were on an important mission.
We assumed the next stop would be Hilltop, but we had one more unexpected pit stop, the Rockbridge Vineyard in Raphine, VA. Eagle-eye Yolie spotted the vineyard road sign, and since she can never pass up a chilled riesling, we just couldn't drive by without stopping. Our hostess, Drury, served us a couple of very nice flights while educating us on the picturesque vineyard. Again, we wanted to linger longer, but we still had a ways to go.
After leaving the vineyard we continued on to Hilltop to find the Three Gables Club (you can find them on facebook). The Three Gables is the oldest bar in West Virginia, dating back to only 1935. It is a family run business with owner, Larry, serving as dejay to the coolest lighted dance floor this side of Manhattan. Larry's grandson, Jacob, was capably handling the bar. A small but talented crew (we think they were related, too) worked the kitchen which services a large dining area. The Three Gables is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights but the great family atmosphere, good food, and the fun hospitable regulars make it a cool stop.
At the end of 2019 we also paid a visit to the Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticutt. The Gris Tap Room, Connecticut's oldest bar, opened in 1776 and has been a popular gathering spot ever since, as evidenced by the packed Friday night crowd. Piano Man, Ray Kanter, kept the crowd entertained with familiar tunes, with patrons freely singing along to every song. The big barroom with its nautical theme is one of the best looking drinking rooms you'll find anywhere. We had a couple pints of the Griswold Inn's own Revolutionary Ale, which went quite well with our hearty comfort food. The town of Essex was very quaint and we look forward to returning during the summer. After leaving the Griswold we came across the Essex Steam Train. The train and station were bustling with young and old Xmas holiday goers. Even in the dark and cold December night the festive holiday train ride looked to be a blast and worthy of a visit to the New England hamlet.
We kicked off 2020 with a quick overnight adventure to two of Maryland's oldest towns, Oxford and St. Michaels. We stayed overnight at the Robert Morris Inn & Tavern in Oxford. The Robert Morris is reputed to be the oldest inn in the United States, dating back to 1710. The inn is very cool and quite unique, and the inviting tavern is bucketlist worthy. With great food, toasty fireplace, slate floors, brick table nooks, and bartender, Jam, serving drinks, the tavern is the place to be in historic Oxford. Yolie thoroughly enjoyed Jam's perfect dirty martini and James savored a Basil Hayden's Kentucky Bourbon, neat of course. The Robert Morris Inn & Tavern is located on the picturesque Tred Avon River and only steps away from the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry dock. By the way, the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry just happens to be the oldest privately owned route in the United States, established in 1683!
The next morning we made the short drive to St. Michaels, a must stop for shoppers and a real treat for drink enthusiasts. There aren't many towns with a population of 1,026 that have a brewery, winery, and distillery literally a stones throw from each other. There is something for everyone and all three are well worth your patronage: Gray Wolf Craft Distilling; Eastern Shore Brewery; and St. Michaels Winery. Besides these makers of fine spirits, brews, and nectars, St. Michaels is full of fun drinking establishments. The funky Gina's Cafe with their array of margaritas, Ava's Pizzeria & Wine Bar with their legendary meatballs, and Carpenter Street Saloon with their daily live entertainment are all must stops for locals and visitors alike. We had a blast exploring and making new friends in St. Michaels, and we'll surely make the hour drive from Annapolis again and again. If you are in the area, we beg of you, please visit...by car or by boat...St. Michaels!