Where to go next in the Hudson Valley


Dutch’s Spirit, a distillery offering cocktails and wood-fired pizza, is in the last stretch of its outdoor fun in Pine Plains, NY. Photo: Dutch’s Spirit

It’s been a year of devastation for small businesses across the U.S., and nowhere was the hit felt more immediately than in the hospitality industry. In the Hudson Valley—which has seen a steady rise in tourism and an increase in the number of hotels, restaurants, bars, and breweries in recent years—many beloved favorites have closed their doors, some temporarily, and some for good. And while nothing can soften the blow of these losses, there are a few bright spots to celebrate: hospitality businesses that made the tenacious move of opening or expanding during the pandemic. Here are five to add to your itinerary on your next trip to Kingston, the Hudson area or the Catskills.

Dutch’s Spirits, a Bootlegger’s Haunt Turned Distillery

Everyone needs some escapism in these trying times, and for the spirit-minded among us, there’s newcomer Dutch’s Spirits in Pine Plains. The farm-based distillery is named after the notorious Upstate bootlegger, Dutch Schultz, who ran a part of his extensive operation on the same patch of land as the new eponymous operation. The rollout of signature spirits is still ongoing, but Brendan McAlpine wanted to make sure the inaugural label, a refined 80 proof take on moonshine made with raw turbinado sugar, was a nod to Schultz’s wily ways. New York Empire Rye is soon to come. Tastings are available every weekend, with outdoor socially-distanced seating around cozy fire pits. Check their calendar for special events including the venue’s own wood-fired pizza truck, Embers, and visits from the Hudson Valley Marshmallow camper. Dutch’s Spirits, 98 Ryan Road, Pine Plains, NY 12567, 518-318-1022

Related: A weekend in the Berkshires: Putting the ‘high’ in highbrow

Where to eat, sleep and play in Hudson

Trinidadian-inspired hot sauces, sorrel drinks, and to-go foods like jerk chicken are all on offer at the new Ram’s Valley foods in Kingston. Photo: Ram’s Valley

Ram’s Valley, a Hot Sauce Haven

In Kingston, the Uptown business district is going through its latest iteration of change. On North Front Street, in the storefront that formerly housed Rebecca Peacock’s jewelry shop, farmers market favorite Rajkumar “Ram” of Ram’s Valley foods recently premiered his first brick-and-mortar venture. Gleaming like jewels on the open shelves are row upon row of Ram’s signature Caribbean-inspired hot sauces, many of which draw their inspiration from Ram’s native Trinidad. The offerings range from fiery habanero-based condiments to mild and floral ginger paste and chunky tomato chutney. Homemade sorrel and ginger drinks (great on their own or as cocktail bases). Stop in frequently for a rotating menu of housemade to-go meals, including fan-favorite jerk chicken with Ram’s signature spice blends and sauces. (Bonus: Ram’s is working with Arc of Ulster Greene to employ differently-abled people.) Ram’s Valley, 45 North Front Street, Kingston, NY 12401

Related: A weekend in Kingston, the Hudson Valley’s creative capital

A Sushi Stalwart Goes Hawaiian at First Capital Poké

A short jaunt up Wall Street, First Capital Poké Bar, helmed by a chef at longtime Kingston favorite, Sushi Makio, brings a creative twist on the traditional Hawaiian dish of hot steamed rice topped with fresh, sushi-grade fish. Choose one of the chef’s signature bowls, or build your own (bonus: a helpful glossary walks customers new to poke and traditional Japanese ingredients through ingredients). Hard-to-find Japanese soft drinks and mochi for a sweet ending round out First Capital’s menu. First Capital Poké Bar, 310 Wall Street, Kingston, NY 12401, 815-514-2801

Phoenicia Diner alum, Chef Chris Bradley, is now in the kitchen at wood-fired pizzeria, Ollie’s Pizza. Photo: Ollie’s Diner

A Phoenicia Diner Alum Joins Ollie’s Pizza

Just a short drive from Kingston is Ulster County’s newest hotpot, Ollie’s Pizza. High Falls native Innis Lawrence and his wife and business partner, Sophie Peltzer-Rollo, have transformed the village’s iconic black barn into a wood-fired pizzeria that’s become an instant hit. The menu is simple and streamlined: the staff fires up the espresso machine early for to-go coffee while the kitchen crew gets down to business crafting pizzas from regionally grown- and milled flours, house-made mozzarella, and farm-sourced toppings. There’s a thin crust option (by the pie only), as well as a voluptuous, toothsome “grandma” style pie (think focaccia). Sides include addictive garlic knots and a simple green salad, and for dessert, there are ice cream sandwiches from longtime Kingston stalwart, Boice’s Bros. Dairy. A terrific natural wine and cider list, as well as a number of regional beers, makes Ollie’s the ideal place to while away the hours in the restaurant’s ample outdoor space (bonus: heaters and fire pits to keep you warm, and plenty of room for antsy kids to get up and play in the fully-fenced yard). Or, call ahead for crowd-pleasing takeout. Keep watch for hearty additions to the menu to suit the cooler weather, including meatballs and wings, as well as pop-up specials from kitchen veteran and Gramercy Tavern and Phoenicia Diner alum, Chef Chris Bradley, who works alongside Lawrence in the Ollie’s kitchen. When the pandemic finally releases its grip, look forward to dining inside, which showcases Lawrence’s stunning custom woodwork. [Note: Ollie’s is temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for Covid. Check their Instagram for updates on their reopening.] Ollie’s Pizza, 4 Bruceville Road, High Falls, NY 12440, 845-687-3464

Related: Three off-the-beaten-path Catskills towns

Eastwind Hotel has expanded its glamping options with 7 new Slovenian-designed Lushna cabins. Photo: @lauren_abele

Eastwind Adds More Cabins

Heading for the hills—the Catskills hills, that is— is a must for some fresh air and respite in these crazy times, and two-year-old Eastwind Hotel and Bar is a terrific option for those seeking a stylish, nearby escape, and Windham offers plenty to do in winter.  Eastwind recently expanded their “glamping” accommodations to include seven new Lushna cabins. Perfectly suited for the pandemic moment, and ranging in size from cozy tent-shaped structures for two to spacious suites that can accommodate up to four people, each Scandinavian-inspired site is fully insulated for year-round comfort, offering luxury bath products, cozy Pendleton robes, sauna access and stunning views. Eastwind Hotel and Bar, 5088 Rte 23, Windham, NY 12496, (518) 734-0553

Related: What to do in Windam

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