What they’re drinking at the state’s top bars

Early autumn is a time of transition. A jacket to the office, shorts on the tee in the afternoon. But what’s in your glass at the 19th hole? Dropping the “summer brews” for amber ale? Switching from a light Pinot Grigio to a Merlot? Still drinking anything as long as it’s on the rocks?

We’ve asked top New Hampshire barkeeps what they’re pouring now and what they expect to be pouring as the leaves fall.

Vodka is king, or tsar, as the case may be, and flavored martinis rule the bar. Louise Condon, director of the Stagecoach Grille at the Atkinson Resort and Country Club, said vodka martinis are so hot “just put the word ‘martini’ in front of the drink, and it sells.” Do not be confused — these are not James Bond martinis — no gin, no vermouth. “The younger guests are the ones asking for the flavored vodka martinis,” said Condon. For her guests, Belvedere is the bomb.

Peaches O’Rourke, partner and general manager of Cotton and Starfish Grill in Manchester, said that “anything straight up in a martini glass is called a martini today.” She serves 15 different kinds, with her hottest sellers being Van Gogh, Hanger One, Grey Goose and Ketel One.

At Cotton, you can have a “slice” of tiramisu in a glass with Tiramisu Martini, which consists of Stoli Vanilla, Godiva White liqueur and Amaretto. If you savor something a little more spicy, O’Rourke pours up a Hot and Dirty ‘tini with olive and pepperoncini juices, Ketel One and an olive and pepper garnish. For something really different, try a Cotton Candy Martini with Ketel One and Pop Rocks candy, among other things.

“There are so many vodkas and so many styles right now, it’s almost overwhelming,” said Mount Washington Resort’s Dennis Duprey. He said “anything Stoli” is the call of choice at the Grand Dame, with Stoli Raspberry being the most popular pour.

Perhaps the shape of things to come, Duprey also said the tequila market is becoming very big with the “anos” coming on strong.

Over at the Wentworth by the Sea Resort and Spa, beverage director Alex MacQuisten said the vodka craze is bordering on hypnotic — as in a Hpnotiq Martini. “Hpnotiq is a sky blue liqueur of French vodka, cognac and fruit juices,” he said.

Wine’s days are looking rosier than ever. With a mind-boggling array of approachable varietals, many within very affordable price ranges, it has never been easier, or more fun, to explore the world in a glass.

The light, crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio is still quite the corker. Also called Pinot Gris (same grape, but from Oregon or France versus California or Italy), this white wine is a top bin selection for guests at the Mount Washington and the Wentworth.

Just to make things more confusing, Pinot Noir, a red grape, has a common ancestry with Pinot Grigio.

David Bruce, a California label, gets top marks from the Wentworth and the Mount Washington. Bogle and Saintsbury are nosing their way into glasses at the Atkinson.

Relatively new to some palates is the rich red Malbec. Often found as a partner in a blend with one of the more famous Big Reds, Malbec is starting to steal the show on its own. The Castellero del Diablo Malbec served at the Wentworth and the sultry Argentinian Alamos Malbec at the Mount Washington are going strong. “The Catena Malbec and Merlot/Malbec blends are very popular,” said Duprey.

At Cotton and Starfish Grill it’s all about location, location, location. O’Rourke said her guests are going Down Under for wines from Australia and New Zealand. Labels like Yellow Tail and newcomer Little Penguin have spots on her wine lists.

Of course, scotch has been a choice call for auld lang syne and still is.

You’ll find most folks roamin’ in the gloamin’ of the Glens – Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. Dewars is also popular, but “Glenfiddich and Glenlivet have the name recognition,” said Duprey.

“We still have a lot of calls for Manhattans,” said O’Rourke, “but it’s nothing compared to vodka.”

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