Great Country Escapes: The Berkshires
Hillrock Estate Distillery
With his new distillery, Jeffrey Baker is creating a field-to-glass operation, using grain grown and distilled on-site. Baker hired David Pickerell, the previous Master Distiller from Maker’s Mark, to oversee operations. Hillrock Estate’s first batch of bourbon will be ready this summer. Tours by appointment; 408 Pooles Hill Rd., Ancram, NY; hillrockdistillery.com.
Bell & Anchor
Mark Firth was a Brooklyn restaurant pioneer with Diner and Marlow & Sons; now he’s looking to bring the same, rustic, delicious food to Bell & Anchor (opening this summer). He hired former Marlow & Sons cook Stephen Browning, and their menu will use ingredients from Firth’s farm, including produce, eggs, honey, maple syrup, pigs, ducks and guinea hens. Firth describes the ethos: “Keep the menu simple and cook whatever we feel like.” R178 Main St., Great Barrington, MA; 413-528-5050.
The Briarcliff Motel
British couple Clare and Richard Proctor opened this high-style, low-price motel, a stark contrast to the area’s many B&Bs. In the cozy lounge, Clare serves freshly baked Vermont cheddar scones. Doubles from $200; 506 Stockbridge Rd., Great Barrington, MA; thebriarcliffmotel.com.
CrossRoads Food Shop
At this cheery café, the staff is friendly and a sign at the register reads, “Frankly my dear, I’ll have a buttermilk biscuit.” Chef David Wurth, who worked at Brooklyn’s Diner, makes the biscuits, plus Spanish tortillas and mushroom frittatas. The dinner menu is short and seasonal, with a tasty and affordable wine list. 2642 Route 23, Hillsdale, NY; crossroadsfoodshop.com.
Hillsdale General Store
At this new housewares store next door to CrossRoads, interior designer Matthew White sells vintage goods—enamel pitchers, copper teapots, glass cheese savers—plus penny candy. Upstairs are four rooms stocked with products from local artisans and stores, including Boxwood Linen’s napkins, quilts and aprons. 2642 Route 23, Hillsdale, NY; hillsdalegeneralstore.com.
Rubi’s may be the first deli to get a sidewalk grilling license. Set behind the famed Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers, cooks roast clams, sausages and, occasionally, entire animals. The first event featured two lambs for Easter; owner Matthew Rubiner says, “We’re still trying to clean up the grease.” He plans to roast a couple of pigs this summer. Visit the website for details. 264 Main St., Great Barrington, MA; rubiners.com.