The Cocktail Culture has found a warm and welcoming home in Connecticut, where restaurants and other destinations have embraced all the wonders that a bartender armed with a shaker and the perfect ingredients can work. CT Visit developed the Connecticut Signature Cocktail Trail by incorporating professional opinions with the results of our own social media polling.

And remember, designate a driver and/or make advance reservations to stay over for the next day’s touring adventures.

Sip Your Way along the CT Signature Cocktail Trail 

Enjoying a signature cocktail is a great way to cap off a busy day of sightseeing, shopping or foliage viewing here in Connecticut. Sip one before dining at one of our great restaurants, or savor a nightcap as you go over the next day’s itinerary. There are dozens upon dozens of terrific signature cocktails on offer in Connecticut, so with the help of social media, we’ve created a Signature Cocktail Trail that invites you to discover a few of our favorite sipping spots – not all at once, obviously.

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Fairfield County

The Cocktail Culture is very cool these days in most of the towns of Fairfield County, where good ideas and innovations have a way of sticking.

  • In Ridgefield, there’s The B’s Knees at Bailey’s Backyard, a combo of Glenbrook Plum Gin, blackberry/lavender syrup, lime juice and fresh berries. Check the “For the Table” menu for zucchini and sweet corn fritters.
  • Meanwhile, in Westport, Kawa Ni offers the Shoga, with bourbon, nonino, ginger tea and orange bitters. Try one along with the Stonington scallops. Neat, in the old Westport firehouse, stays in the corn mash mood with its Over Easy, where bacon-washed bourbon, lemon, Grand Marnier, cane sugar and Jerry Thomas Bitters take up residence together. Neat’s cheese board makes a good accompaniment. And Luxe Wine Bar & Craft Cocktails offers the Sidewinder, which incorporates Lairds Apple Brandy, Pimms, Gran Classico bitters and orange peel garnish. Pair it with Luxe’s delish deviled eggs.
  • We’ve heard that Geronimo Tequila Bar in Fairfield (there’s one in New Haven, too) serves a splendid Spicy Passion Fruit Margarita, blending jalapeno-infused tequila, passion fruit, Triple Sec and fresh lime. The tableside guacamole makes for a good share.
  • In South Norwalk, the venerable Match serves a drink highly recommended by ctbites.com – The Rathbone. This is a frothy combination of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, juice of cucumber and fresh basil, squeezed lime juice and Japanese Sencha Green Tea simple syrup. For bites, everyone seems to like the Bacon & Mozzarella.
  • Escape to Key Largo without leaving Connecticut at l’escale restaurant at Delamar Greenwich Harbor. The Key Largo is made with the finest ingredients, including Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, Giffard Creme de Mure (blackberry), fresh lemon juice, and a Prosecco topper with lemon oil.
  • Give a toast to history with Custer’s Last Stand at Delamar Southport’s Artisan Restaurant.  Custer’s Last Stand is a delicious blend of Hophead Vodka, Downeast Cider, fresh lemon juice, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram and orange peel.

And if you’re looking for a place to stay right nearby or even within walking distance, try the West Lane Inn in Ridgefield, The Inn at Longshore, which is close to Westport and Fairfield, or the Delamar Hotel in the Southport section of Fairfield.

Old Saybrook

We’ve heard the Rum Runner at the ever-popular Penny Lane Pub is not to be missed. Grab some Prince Edward Island mussels to complete the nautical theme.

Winsted

Martini fans report that Monaco’s Ristorante shakes up a Grade-A Espresso Martini. (On the side, the broccoli rabe and sausage is authentically Italian.)

Morris

In the fall, try the Apple Old Fashioned at Winvian Farm, in which you’ll find Bushel & Barrel bourbon, bitters, sugar, nutmeg, a splash of soda and apple slices. Consider luxuriating in the lobster risotto at the same time.

Mystic

The Irons Restaurant and Bar at the Hilton Mystic features The Heart of Mystic, a refreshing blend of Hendrick’s gin, watermelon, citrus and cucumber.

Hartford

Sharable, house-made and bottled cocktails are available at NIXS, where the Bad Wolf combines Redemption Rye Whiskey, honey simple syrup, fresh orange and Meyer’s lemon juice. The “Shareables” menu includes tuna tartare tacos.

Also in Hartford, you can go for a real autumn-in-Connecticut treat with the mulled cider at 50 Elm Café & Spirits, which has its own special recipe. For an interesting contrast, dig into a plate of Caribbean hummus. You might want to get there for happy hour and the Bacon Shrimp Tempura and Baltimore Shrimp.

And let’s keep in mind that Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford is well regarded for its cocktails (not just shrimp!).

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Mixology Madness 

Wondering where in Connecticut to find the coolest cocktails? You can start with the CT Signature Cocktail Trail, created using social media to find the hottest spots and sips.

Classic cocktails like martinis, manhattans and margaritas never go out of style. But today’s bartenders and mixologists are bringing new tastes, twists and traditions to the bar that are redefining cocktail hour.

Signature cocktails are usually a recipe or style specific to the bar that serves them. And Connecticut makes it easy and fun for savvy sippers looking to discover new drinks at top bars and restaurants all over the state.

Check out this list of Connecticut’s top mixologist bars. And if you aspire to take up bartending yourself, here are some places to get a top-notch education.

Looking for real local flavor? Sample Hartford Flavor Company’s botantically infused liqueurs. And Onyx Moonshine’s tasting rooms let you try locally produced moonshines and whiskeys in a recreated speakeasy. 

And be sure to mark your calendar for the Food Schmooze Martini Competition! Held in June, this popular fundraising event lets Connecticut’s most creative mixologists share their creations and compete for top honors.

Covering the Casinos 

Connecticut is home to a pair of truly world-class casinos – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – separated by only a few miles in Southeastern Connecticut. There are many good reasons to visit them both, of course (live shows, great food, comfy rooms, lots of games to play), and here we cover some of them in detail. Come hide away on a long weekend!

Pampering

What’s a casino without a luxury spa? Not much, we’d guess, but our casinos are more than prepared to pamper. The Elemis Spa at Mohegan Sun offers a complete menu of services and beauty treatments, while the G Spa & Salon at Fox Tower Hotegets very high grades from Internet reviewers. There’s even the Norwich Spa at Foxwoods for those who’d like to overnight in a spa setting.

Live Shows

There is always someone on stage at one of Foxwoods’ and Mohegan Sun’s many venues. Whether it’s comedy you like, or cabaret, or big rock and country names, or even boxing matches or basketball games, Connecticut’s casino scene can’t be beat.

Golf

Foxwoods built 36 holes at Lake of Isles – 18 are private, but the other 18 holes are open to the public in one of the finest layouts in New England. You can find a golf package that includes lodging, a round of golf, vouchers for food and gaming and a complimentary drink. Meanwhile, Mohegan Sun is pumping millions into its Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug. If you like uniquely challenging greens, it’s a great place to try.

Shopping

Whether you’re browsing or buying, there’s a vast array of shops at Connecticut’s casinos. At Foxwoods, you’ll find Bulgari, Chopard, Pandora, Michael Simon and Hugo Boss. In addition, Foxwoods now has an 80-store cluster of Tanger outlets, including Nike, American Eagle and Calvin Klein. Mohegan Sun, meanwhile, offers everything from Coach and Chico’s to Puma and Tommy Bahama.

Steak

Do you like steak and other steakhouse fare? If so, the casinos will satisfy your hunger in the most remarkable ways. At Mohegan Sun, there’s Michael Jordan’s Steak House and Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain. At Foxwoods, there’s David Burke Prime and Cedars Steak House. Make sure your appetite is sharp!

Cocktails

Ready to just sit back and enjoy a cocktail with friends? At Mohegan Sun, try an Elderflower Martini at Ballo, or indulge in the Vista Bella at Vista Lounge. You can sample tequilas “Rock-Mex” style at the Scorpion Bar at Foxwoods.

And there you go. Thanks CT Visit!

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