Tipsy Tastes: Riverhead Ciderhouse

(This article first appeared in the November 29, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper as part of my Tipsy Tastes Series)

with Jon DeKenipp

Since its opening in March, Riverhead Ciderhouse has been the new go-to spot on the North Fork. Taking the place of a former industry warehouse, every inch of this 8000-square-foot space invites you in; from the hot mulled cider brewing in the front to the roasted garlic cooking in the back. Natural light fills the room but that’s no match to the heat coming from the two fireplaces on either side of the room, surrounded by homey couches and quirky reads. In front of the fire are refurbished doors converted to tables and farmhouse tractor seats, a touch indicative of the area.

More than just a cider house, as the name initially implies, this tasting room offers local libations of a different kind as well. Blue Point and Greenport beers, Lieb Cellars and Martha Clara wine, the list goes on and aims to please responsible drinkers of all kinds.

“We offer a really good variety for the different groups walking through the door,” Jon DeKenipp, chef and general manager, explained. “I’d say eight out of the 10 stick to the cider. It’s the newest and fastest growing beverage segment in the industry.”

According to, the number of hard cider consumers in the United States has doubled in the last four years alone, from 11.65 million hard cider drinkers in 2013 to 24.88 million in 2017, making such a large cidery the trendiest place to be right now.

Riverhead Ciderhouse doesn’t grow its own apples just yet, that’s expected in 2020. Rather, they source their product in juice form from a New York State orchard. Then the creation process begins.

“As you make your different flavors you have to take some flavors out to add the flavoring in,” said cider master Will Loughlin. “What we have left in our tanks now is 340 gallons — the last of our batch that we can play with.”

So what was it used for? “We put the Apple Annie in. We’re now in the talks of what our next batch will be.” With fresh juice coming by January 2018, and a six-to-eight-week cider-making process, a new batch can be expected by March of 2018 — just in time for the company’s one year milestone.

The Apple Annie is a regular, eight percent ABV (alcohol by volume) apple cider that’s been the latest buzz. Other popular flavors include the Prickly Pear Rose, a rose cider, and, just in time for the holiday season, the Crannie, a cranberry cider. Riverhead Ciderhouse’s website lists all that’s on tap and, thanks to technology powered by DigitalPour, a visual of what’s left.

Going into its first off-season, business is still holding strong. “We’re still trying to roadmap it. It’s a heavy seasonal spot and locality,” DeKenipp emphasized. “In any business the first year, you have to learn as you go. You learn from your mistakes and capitalize on your strengths.”

As you prepare your next round of holiday festivities, stop in to try some cider. Once you’ve found your favorite, take a growler back with you to share with family and friends. Whatever you do, make sure you #DrinkLocal. Cheers!

Riverhead Ciderhouse is located at 2711 Sound Avenue in Calverton. Join them on Thursdays for Dueling Pianos starting at 5:30 PM or live music indoors on other nights, as seen on the calendar. Reach the Ciderhouse at 631-591-0217 or visit

North Fork Oysters & Greenport Brew

(This article first appeared in the September 13, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


“Drink and eat local,” John Liegey, co-founder of Greenport Harbor Brewing, echoed over the phone. I’m on a three-way call with him and Ian Wile, owner of Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market.

The two first met approximately five years ago at Greenport’s Oyster Festival, an event dedicated to brews and bivalves. Now, with the brewery’s new expansion into a dual location in Peconic, together they have teamed up to serve the community — customers can now indulge in Greenport on tap at the oyster market.

“I feel like Little Creek is pretty much the epicenter of our connection to Greenport,” Liegey said. “Ian is just amazing. Everybody there has been super supportive of us. When the series first started, which is super select and very limited, we picked out a handful of places to offer the beer and Little Creek was an immediate decision. I love going there, being there — I feel at home there.”

The brewery maintains a local mentality, sending out only eight kegs to New York and eight on Long Island. The rest stays within the community. Little Creek is ideally situated just steps away from the Shelter Island ferry and off Front Street, making it a great drinking experience location. The beers released are selective but thankfully there’s no end in sight for this flavorful partnership.

Wile takes a liking to the playful experimentation of the whole thing. You never know what you’re going to get. “We’ve always enjoyed the Greenport tasting room. And we share in a customer population that’s willing to break out of their habits.” Personal favorites include the Berliners, with their intense sour flavoring. One from the summer season included the Fuzzy Flamingo, a light pink beer that’s anything but ordinary. “It totally challenges what people think of when they think of beer. With daring flavors in it.”

Here today, gone tomorrow, Greenport likes to switch things up with limited releases that are often times at Little Creek for palatable adventures. Craving that fall pumpkin spice? The Leaf Pile Ale is ready for the sipping. Could it be next to your favorite oysters? Stop in to find out every Thursday during beer release night.

The localized relationship is almost symbiotic. A brewery always pushing the boundaries of what traditional beer is and a trusted eatery with an appetite for what’s next. But the real question is, can they shuck themselves?

“Ian taught me how to shuck my own oysters. I don’t know if they’re any tastier when I open them,” Liegey chuckled. “99.9 percent of the time it’s not me opening my own.”

“It’s fine. I don’t brew my own beer,” Wile responded lightheartedly.

Most importantly, raise a glass of the new Oyster Stout to a shucking good time!

Greenport Harbor Brewing is located at 234 Carpenter Street in Greenport (the original brewery) and at 42155 Main Road in Peconic. Call them at 631-477-1100, visit them online at and follow them for the latest “hops” on Instagram @Greenportbrew.

Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market is located at 37 Front Street in Greenport. Call them at 631-477-6992 or visit them online at Don’t forget their Instagram @Northforkoysters.

Shop the East End

(This article first appeared in the September 13, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)


Shop local is more than a motto; it’s a way of life. Long Island’s East End is a community that helps local businesses thrive through countless partnerships, and Taste the East End Boutique helps to bring it all together.

Situated next door to the Hyatt East End, at 489 East Main Street in Riverhead, in partnership with Hyatt, the Long Island Aquarium, and a shop at MacArthur Airport, the store was established during the summer of 2016. Customers should not be misled by the name, as product ranges from gourmet foods to candles, skincare, tote bags, and much more. All catering to its customers while supporting local markets, the artisan-crafted goods are all produced in New York, with a large focus on the greater LI region.

Alexandra Bussi is the store designer and manager. The boutique has an airy décor emulating the serene surroundings of the North Fork. Upon entering the doors you’ll oftentimes see Bussi behind the counter — the restored bed of a Ford pick-up truck. By her side, her Pomeranian, Lola, enthusiastically greets customers.

“It’s great to support the talented makers in our areas,” Bussi said. “With fall coming up, our sweatshirts from Carleton Clothing, North Fork Design, and Hampton Trading Company have been selling very well. The really popular items would have to be locally-made soaps from White Field Farm and Southampton Soap.”

Walk toward the left for jewelry, edibles, bath products, and glasses. Toward the right, pick up wall décor or don your favorite shirt design. An astounding 45 merchants currently sell in the space, which is continuously growing as the months progress. Bussi seeks out new businesses regularly, with a special affinity for the uniquely presented.

“I am obsessed with a face scrub from East End Soap that leaves my face silky smooth and smelling like sugar. It’s nice to have somewhere to get some local goodies throughout the island,” Bussi admitted.

Visit to enjoy all the goodies our community, and beyond, have to offer. For you, for a friend, and especially for an out-of-towner looking for the perfect parting gift.

Call Taste the East End Boutique at 631-727-2686, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @Taste the East End.