There are a number of places in the United States where those of a mind to imbibe can tipple happily along a designated “wine trail”, or follow the scent of hops around to well known craft breweries. New Hampshire sees both and raises: I mean really, where else will you find, in addition to wine trails and comprehensive beer maps an itinerary for a chocolate and martini tour? Suffice to say, there is more than one place to get a mean martini in this northeastern state, and those chocolates? Handmade Belgian bonbons and other exquisite artisanal morsals. Mere words are not enough.
Assuming one has time and a head clear enough to also take on the scenic “Wine and Cheese Trail”, the reward is a glimpse of local farms and a taste of fresh cheese straight from places such as the Sandwich Creamery (which incidentally makes wonderful ice cream), as well as a relaxed introduction to area wine making. Included in your itinerary should be destinations like Flag Hill Winery and Distillery (the distillery half responsible for stiffer stuff like General John Stark Vodka or Josiah Bartlett Barrel Aged Apple Brandy). For those determined not to mix drinks, come away with a bottle of less-common wine varietals made from grapes like Niagara, Bignoles and Cayuga, or continue on to Candia, home to boutique winery, Candia Vineyards, which is known for its award-winning Noiret and Frontenac varietals.
Should all this sipping and sampling send travelers off in search of a substantial dinner, steer for Portsmouth, where fresh seafood is the specialty of select restaurants, from flavorful Atlantic salmon to pan seared halibut. It’s cheating a little, but sensible purists might generously consider adding lobster or diver scallops to the list of possibilities. Sure, it probably comes from Maine, but one look at a larger-than-life lobster, still steaming, and state lines blur. Maine is, after all, but one-third a Memorial Bridge length away.
And finally, let’s give New Hampshire some credit when it comes to maple syrup. Sure, syrup here might might play second-fiddle in terms of fame to Vermont, say, but anyone who’s drizzled some of the local finest over hot pancakes will be happy to wax eloquent on its merits, no one-morning stand with Vermont’s version necessary.