By Dawn Watson
Christmas is a special time for Curtis Bashaw. The co-founder and co-managing partner of Cape Advisors and Cape Resorts, which owns a plethora of properties on the eastern seaboard, including Baron’s Cove and the Watchcase Condominiums here in Sag Harbor, loves to celebrate the holiday season. And he wants to make sure that guests at his hotels also get the opportunity to enjoy the festivities too, whether they are away from home or just stopping by for a short visit.
The hotelier and entrepreneur first came upon the idea when he opened up Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey in 1995. Rather than have the circa-1816 106-room hotel, which is America’s oldest seaside resort, sit vacant over the winter, Mr. Bashaw decided to create a “Winter Wonderland” there to create interest in the off-season. Driving demand to the “Summer House of the Presidents,” the Christmas Village and lighting displays that he instituted at Congress Hall ensured that the famous seashore-area lodging spot would become a holiday destination as well as a hotspot during the warm-weather months.
Mr. Bashaw has incorporated a similar approach here in Sag Harbor at Baron’s Cove. There’s no “Winter Wonderland” but there are climbing Santas, holiday celebrations and special festive menus and cocktails. The four climbing Santas—one of which was stolen from the hotel last winter—have been a particularly big hit, says the hotelier.
“I saw similar playful Santas climbing over a store in Milan in 2001,” he recalls, adding that he then came back home and had his own sets of sitting, standing, climbing and hanging Santas commissioned by a theater props maker here in New York and they now adorn the façades of Baron’s Cove here and The Virginia in Cape May.
The hotel doesn’t stop with just the decorating during the holidays. There are also special lodging packages, meals and drinks to celebrate the season, though most of the remaining days in the month of December have already been booked up. Similar events have been planned for a New Year’s Eve celebration at the hotel.
But even for those who aren’t staying overnight, the menu for Christmas Day dinner can also be enjoyed by non-hotel guests for $74, or $26 for kids 12 and younger. Prepared by Executive Chef Matty Boudreau and served from noon until 8 p.m., appetizer choices include: Local Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup with creme fraîche and pistachio brittle; Baby Winter Lettuces Salad with blue cheese crumbles, roasted fennel and mushrooms and fresh cranberries; Crispy Lobster Frito Misto with lobster knuckles, rock shrimp, local squid, preserved lemons and tarragon aioli; and House Citrus Cured Gravelox with sour cream, potato pancakes, Bermuda onions and petite herb salad. Entrée choices include: Herb Crusted Roasted Game Hen with chorizo stuffing, smashed root vegetables, broccolini and natural jus; Grilled Prime Filet Au Poivre with local potato au gratin, garlicky spinach and creamy peppercorn sauce; Seared Shinnecock Scallops with lobster nagé, roasted North Fork cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery root puree; and Spiced East Coast Halibut with charred local mushroom, fennel, leeks, Tuscan black kale and basil oil. And dessert options include: Local Pumpkin Cheesecake, East End Apple Pie a La Modé, Fresh Berries with Whipped Cream and Triple Chocolate Brownie with Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
And for those who want to stop in for a drink, there’s also a spate of special holiday cocktails on the menu. This year’s festive drinks include: the Jingle Bell Rock, Stolen Apple Pie, Secret Santa, the Festivus, and, of course, lots and lots of Champagne. Because, as novelist, wine critic and Baron’s Cove Wine Director Jay McInerney says, “Everybody loves bubbles over the holidays. It’s hard to beat Champagne, the greatest sparkling wine on the planet.”
For additional information, visit www.baronscove.com.
Make-at-Home Holiday Drinks Selection at Baron’s Cove.
Jingle Bell Rock
1.5 oz Greenhook Dry Gin
1 oz cranberry syrup
½ oz Aperol
½ oz St. Germain
½ oz lemon juice
Combine 1st 4 ingredients, shake and strain over ice in a highball glass. Top with club soda.\
Stolen Apple Pie
1.5 oz Stolen Smoked Rum
2 oz Milk Pail Apple Cider (local)
½ oz ginger agave
½ oz lemon juice
Shake all ingredients and strain over ice into rocks glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick.
2 oz Vanilla bean-infused Square One Vodka
1 oz vanilla simple syrup
¼ oz Menthe Pastille
¾ oz heavy cream
1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
Crushed candy canes
Rim martini glass with crushed candy canes. Shake all ingredients and strain into martini glass.
Cremant de Loire
1 oz Farmer’s Organic Gin
½ oz lemon verbena agave
½ oz lemon juice
Shake 1st 3 ingredients and strain into champagne flute. Top with cremant and garnish with thin lemon peel.