We left LA’s 80 degree weather this February weekend to explore snowy Connecticut. It was as nautical, preppy, historical, and full of good cocktails as we hoped it would be. One of our favorite spots, Engine Room, was in Mystic– the perfect town for indulging all your New England chowder, sailboat, and salt water taffy fantasies (in other words, pretty much #quaintporn).
Engine Room was named for the Lathrop Engine Co., the first inhabitants of the building. According to legend, during Prohibition Lathrop was the engine of choice for not only the Coast Guard’s ships but also for the rum runners trying to evade them. Much of the original building has been preserved and visitors can check out one of the early motors in the front before heading to the real focal point of the place: the bar.
Who to go with: A date, your S.O., friends, or even your parents. It’s notable for being one of the hipper places in the area so if you’re looking for something to please your more in-the-know foodie friends this will do the job.
What to drink: The standout cocktail of the evening was the Starman (featuring ne , Lunazul Reposado, Bertina Elderflower, honey syrup, grapefruit, lime, grapefruit bitters, muddled bell peppers, and chocolate sea salt). The chocolate and bell pepper scents mingling together was a non-obvious combination that worked out remarkably well. It was distinctive, refreshing, and perfectly balanced. Our other favorite was a Barrel-Aged Boulevardier that the bar director Nick hooked us up with (unfortunately, it’s not on the official menu– a fact that may be worth protesting). It’s not unusual to get a Boulevardier that’s lost its subtler flavors through overwhelming bitterness, but this one was pleasantly mellow (despite its containing several ryes) and complex with notes of maple, root beer, and citrus. The Pistachio Negroni (Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin, Dolin Blanc, Dolin Génépy de Alpes, and pistachio syrup) was charmingly nutty and slightly floral, and the Blind Eyes Could Blaze (Noah’s Mill Bourbon, Meletti Amaro, Amaro Sibilla, and lemon) was bright and bold.
When to go: When you’re looking to enjoy cocktails 1) somewhere that embraces New England history and local culture without kitsch, 2) when you’re in the mood for a lively, fun, and energetic setting.
Where: 14 Holmes St, Mystic, CT 06355
Why: The cocktails were made with enthusiasm and integrity and the romantic history behind the building made the cocktails all the more enjoyable.