Gin and tonics are fabulous, but so is an Oak Aged Bijou (gin, green chartreuse, vermouth). Which is why Brendan Dillon created this post-Millennial cocktail emporium that honors Saratoga’s prohibition-era flapper culture, while looking to the future with artisanally made spirits, cocktails, wines and beer.
When you step in the door you are immediately greeted by a large “L” shaped bar. The dimly lit room is flanked by oversized windows that allow in a subtle hue of light from famed Caroline Street. Industrial elements, such as wood tables and chairs, and pipe shelving are balanced by clean and classic subway tile behind the bar and a decorative copper toned ceiling. Around the corner, a brightly lit open kitchen with chef’s counter seating takes center stage.
Whether you are joining for a pre-dinner cocktail or a full meal, it’s clear that H&G’s clientele boasts a sophisticated palate. Ideal for drinks, dinner or a late-night combo, you can expect several couples and small parties taking up most of the coveted bar stools and tables. Pleasantly absent of shot-swilling college kids, the bar stays lively through the night but manageable enough for an intimate date.
For a libations-loving town like Saratoga Springs, there is no shortage of places to grab a drink. But when it comes to craft cocktails, Hamlet & Ghost reigns supreme. You’ll find a good-size list of unique options, spins on classics and nods to current cocktail industry heavyweights.
The menu is constantly evolving and highly seasonal, but some of the all-time MVPs include the Mexican Razorblade (a smoky margarita with muddled cucumber and chile) and the Grizzly Adams (bourbon, lemon, honey, cranberry bitters, sage). Traditionalists can order martinis and the like, or venture into less-charted but still familiar waters, with a Painkiller (rum, fresh pineapple, OJ, coconut cream) or a Whiskey Smash (bourbon, lemon, mint, cane sugar, apple tea).
The wine is equally compelling, with a small but well-curated and rotating list of beautiful, sustainably made small-batch wines. A few stand-outs: the Cypien Arlaud’s Pinot Noir, from Burgundy; Andrew Will’s Cabernet from Columbia Valley, WA; Arnot-Roberts’ Chardonnay from Napa, CA; La Stoppa’s Malvasia from Emilia-Romagna.
The menu, despite the small size of the kitchen and space, offers some of the most elevated—but still wonderfully comforting—dishes in town. Chef Michele Hunter’s New American offerings are both surprising and satisfying.
This scratch kitchen presents an array of high-low options including oysters, well-accoutered cheese and charcuterie, steak tartare, burrata fondue, and a variety of imaginative entrees, like the Poached Halibut accompanied by a lemongrass beurre blanc and confited salsify, or a simple grass fed and finished steak with smoked cheddar mashed potatoes and au poivre sauce.
Fan favorites include warm cider battered cheese curds, duck fat french fries, and their unrivaled Grass Fed Double Cheeseburger with melted onions – seriously, this burger will prove to be one of the best you’ve ever had.
Hamlet & Ghost is HQ for special occasion pre-gaming cocktails and the perfect place to begin—or end—a sophisticated, but buzzy night out, and thanks to its delicious menu, it is becoming an all-in-one destination for pre-dinner cocktails, multi-course dinners and night-caps.
And the late-night refrain “just one more” is now something you won’t regret uttering the next day. Ask your bartender to shake or stir a low ABV cocktail, your head will thank us tomorrow.
Kathleen Willcox lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband and twins. She writes about the culture and politics of food and wine as well as travel and lifestyle; her work regularly appears in Wine Enthusiast, SevenFifty Daily and Edible Capital District.