You likely know Newport, Rhode Island, for its yacht-filled harbor, historic summer “cottages” (read: mansions) and upscale New England vibes. And yes, the city is very much all those things, and you should thoroughly enjoy them during a visit. But it’s also a lively, laidback destination with great places to eat and, more importantly, drink.
Newport has really come into its own with modern and historic bars alike that feature excellent cocktails and world-class wine lists. The wineries and breweries are cool, independent operations that often lure patrons with live music and food-focused events. Whether you’re going for one of its world-renowned music festivals or simply to enjoy a maritime holiday, here are all the best places to imbibe in Newport.
It’s far too easy to spend an entire afternoon at Newport Vineyards, and you certainly wouldn’t regret it if you did. Outdoor tables overlook the winery’s 100-plus acres of vines, and snacks like monkfish nuggets and baked camembert are available both al fresco and inside the expansive indoor restaurant. But you came here for the wine. The Pinot Noir Dry Rosé is fresh and balanced (we drank it alongside roasted sausages at home), and the Rochambeau — a Bordeaux blend of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon — is rich and juicy with dark fruit notes like boysenberry and blackberry. If you’re more in the mood for beer, that’s fine, too: Newport Vineyards has its very own Taproom Brewing on-site. Try the Tripel Reserve, a Belgian triple aged in chardonnay barrels, or the Pulp Friction, a gose with strawberries and lemon zest. The winery often hosts live music and patio cookouts, too.
When I was first researching wineries in the Newport area, Greenvale Vineyards caught my eye for two reasons — an albariño pét-nat and a pinot gris ramato, a style of skin-contact wine historically produced in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region (“rame” means “copper” in Italian). We arrived just in time, as a band was setting up and tables were going quickly as patrons staked their claim on the breezy, sunny day. Neither of the aforementioned wines disappointed, and I also took home a bottle of still albariño, which recently paired perfectly with grilled chicken and herbs. Winemaker Bill Wilson (whose parents and grandparents started the winery in 1992) showed us their brand new winemaking facility, which is a beautiful edition to their charming tasting room and 27 acres of vines. Greenvale regularly hosts events like brunch and clambakes, so check their calendar before visiting.
Newport Craft Brewing + Distilling
Newport Craft Brewing opened in 1999 (under the name Storm Brewery) and was granted a distilling license in 2006, the first in Rhode Island since 1872. So not only do they make excellent beers, but it’s worth a stop to try their rum and other spirits as well. Try the It’s Called “Soccer,” a German-style Kölsch made in collaboration with Radiant Pig, or the Rhode Trip, a hazy, unfiltered New England IPA. The award-winning Thomas Tew Rum is a must-try and makes for a perfect souvenir for yourself or another brown spirits lover in your life.
Ragged Island Brewing Co.
Ragged Island Brewing Co. is set on 37 acres of land overlooking Narragansett Bay, and the property is actually a working farm, so you might meet a chicken or two during your visit. Step into the renovated 1890s farmhouse taproom, take a seat on the sunset deck or snag a table in the plant-filled greenhouse. Try the Tiny Truck New England-style citra hopped IPA or the full-bodied hefeweizen with notes of banana and clove. If you’re not into beer, the hard pink limeade is refreshing and tart with lemon, key lime and dragon fruit flower. A rotating roster of food trucks, live music and events is always on.
10 Great American Food Trails Worth Road Tripping ForFrom bourbon and onion burgers to surry sonker and pepperoni rolls
Restaurants and Bars
The Lawn at Castle Hill Inn
Sunset drinks at The Lawn are an absolute must in Newport. Located on the sloping hill of Castle Hill Inn that overlooks Narragansett Bay, it’s easy to while away the hours in one of The Lawn’s many Adirondack chairs as the boats go by and the sky changes from blue to cotton candy orange and pink. The bar has a cocktail list, but the beers and wines available are even better (don’t miss the Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina or Presqu’ile Syrah). The Lawn can get quite crowded during high season, so arrive early if you want to snag a seat (they turn people away at a certain capacity).
Not only does The Mooring have one of the best lobster dinners and raw bars in town, but the bar is also a must. Cocktails include the Paper Negroni — a clever marriage of a Paper Plane and Negroni with gin, Aperol, Amaro Montenegro and orange zest — and fans of spice will love the Spicy Cukes, made with mezcal, jalapeño, honey, cucumber, citrus and a crushed pepper rim. The draft list is all local Rhode Island and New England beers, and the wine list is big and well-priced. Take a seat at the large horseshoe bar or opt for a patio seat to enjoy drinks al fresco.
White Horse Tavern
History buffs can’t leave Newport without checking out White Horse Tavern, which is the oldest running restaurant in the United States (it opened in 1673). A meal here is absolutely outstanding, and the many dark and cozy rooms each tell their own story. But we’re here for the bar, a small but lively room where you can order ice-cold, perfectly-made Martinis, a classic Champagne Cocktail or Negroni slushy. White Horse Tavern also has an excellent wine list, probably the best in the city, so you’d be wise to ask the somm for a recommendation. If the day is just too beautiful to sit inside, snag a table on the brick patio.
Giusto has one of the coolest bars in Newport. Not only does the restaurant have your standard indoor bar, but its large windows also open so the bartenders can swing around and serve patrons at the long outdoor bar, too. Spring for an easy-drinking cocktail like the Spaghett or Sbagliato Bianco (gin, lemongrass and prosecco), or choose something from the all-Italian (save for Champagne) wine list that focuses on natural and biodynamic producers. Giusto also has a solid list of amari if you’re in need of a digestivo. Don’t miss the weekday aperitivo hour when you can pair your favorite drink with a rotating selection of tasty snacks.
Maurice Taylor and his team at Brenton Hotel serve the best cocktails in Newport, but you shouldn’t just take it from me. As a guest of the hotel, I spent a lot of time at the Living Room and realized that a lot of locals also frequent the lobby bar. Try a signature drink like the Déjà Vu (coconut-washed mezcal, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, pineapple, smoked chili bitters, lime) or order from their creative spritz lineup. The menu also has a nice list of wines, beers and non-alcoholic libations. Dogs are welcome too, and there’s even a food menu for them (my pup Spaghetti thoroughly enjoyed his daily chicken and rice).
If you opt to stay at Brenton Hotel, some additional boozy amenities include sunset cruises on Brenton One — the property’s 36-foot Hinckley Picnic Boat — where you can enjoy drinks and snacks while you take in views of gorgeous Newport Harbor. The hotel also sets up a tailgate at The Newport International Polo Club, so snag some tickets to a match and relax on the sidelines with a glass of wine (dogs are also welcome at Newport Polo).
This gorgeous shop had just recently opened when I visited and I’m so glad I stumbled upon it. Matriarch sells treasures for the dedicated imbiber like cocktail books, vintage glassware, cocktail bitters, tea towels and a rotating selection of other items that your bar cart definitely needs.
Newport Wine Cellar & Gourmet
Don’t leave the city without making a stop at Newport Wine Cellar & Gourmet, a beautiful shop with an excellent bottle selection. The store also sells beer and spirits, as well as gourmet goodies like Hayden Flour Mills crackers and Vermont Farmstead cheese. You can even snag a curated box for any last-minute gifting needs.
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