“I have been here before.” I recall a launch party for Hamptons Free Ride years ago. “I decided to hitchhike back to Montauk. A cop picked me up and told me never to hitchhike again. But I got where I was going.”
It was a different restaurant then. Business turnover out east is fairly certain. This iteration has been around for three years, I am informed. We check in at the host stand, and request bar seating. The backbar boasts an extensive brown selection; the other side of the bar holds an equally eclectic choice of clear spirits. The sommelier, Eric, is an industry friend and happens to be behind the bar this Thursday night.
The menu includes graphics of what piece of glassware holds each cocktail. “The owners son runs the bar program and loves rum, so we do a lot of daquiris,” Eric explains as two strawberry daiquiris are set in front of us. They are fresh, delicious, and a perfect iteration of tradition. I order the Walnut Mai Tai, which comes on crushed ice adorned with mint and a festive paper straw. The sunset is beginning over Gardiners Bay to my right and the tiki cocktail refreshes me from a day in the sun.
“Adam [the son] is like a mad scientist,” Eric says, as he holds a device that homogonizes citrus juices. None of us know how it works, but the way the bar is run, something is working. I am impressed by the intricacy of the cocktails – jiggers are used and garnishes replicate the best cocktail bars in the city, details that usually go by the wayside under the volume of the Hamptons crowd.
We order the tuna tartar and fluke ceviche; both are refreshing and fresh. Soon the perfectly tender octopus and sweet smoked ribs are also before us. Chef-owner Eric Miller has a pet-project of barbecue with a smoker out back, a skill learned somewhere in Alabama. Everything is well executed under Bay Kitchen’s roof – food and bevereage.
Though I could stay well past sunset, we opt to drive back to Montauk, but first imbibe a parting daiquiri just as delicious as the welcome cocktail. Fully spoiled, I want to come back as soon as possible for all the various drink vessels.