One of the joys of grabbing a getaway, for me, is having time to read, without the distractions of daily life; to cozy up with a good book and a fringed wooly blanket on my lap defines true relaxation. But with so much to do just outside the door, the lure of discovery beckons. Why not liven up your reading by exploring some area bookshops paired with a cocktail or a craft beer or two? The Catskills and Hudson Valley have some pretty cool bookshop proprietors who entice you to do just that. Read a book and sip a sidecar. Or rediscover an old fashioned and dust off an even older literary favorite.
The Golden Notebook, the four-decade old independent bookstore (since 1978), has a bit of a cult following. Is it any surprise then that it anchors famous Tinker Street in the heart of Woodstock? Named for the Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing’s 1962 feminist novel, The Golden Notebook welcomes artists, writers, students, musicians and other creatives with books, community and some 90 author events a year. When the golden hour arrives, take a stroll down Tinker for a beer or a cocktail. You’ll have a few good options, each with its own Woodstock vibe. In summer, try Commune Saloon where you can sit outside and sip a carefully crafted cocktail. For a flight of craft beers from New York State breweries, try Station Bar & Curio, housed in a relocated train station, and take in a revolving gallery of local art, a game of billiards, some live music on the weekends or, if you didn’t find what you were looking for earlier, a book from the shelf.
One Grand Books in Narrowsburg is one place that really gets me to try new titles. They are famous for their “Top Ten Books,” curated literary picks from a variety of A-list recommenders, from Lena Dunham to Deepak Chopra, and Christiane Amanpour to Questlove. One Grand doesn’t have its own bar, but The Heron, just steps from its door, will take good care of you. I love to sit at the bar and contemplate my own pairings — literary figures and their drinks of choice. Why not try a mojito like Hemmingway? Feeling a little Golightly? Try Capote’s idea of a party starter with Holly’s favorite pisco sour. And a little bonus tip: Try the jalapeño cheese grits with anything.
Some area bookshops have cut out the need for you to walk down the street to a local watering hole by putting one inside the shop. Try The Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson, NY where you can enjoy a cold beer, a hot latte or a healthful kombucha while you browse their 1000+ titles and unique gifts. You might even try your hand at Trivia Night (bring your squad). In Kingston, sip some craft beer and cider at Rough Draft Bar & Books (or coffee if you’re not at 5 o’clock yet). Join in on some of their readings or sit in the sunny café and contemplate the rough draft of your own novel.
If you’re up for a little more of an adventure, a country drive and a day getting lost and found, you will find some serious literary intrigue here: The tiny town of Hobart is home to a real life revivalist experiment where most of the shops are (deliberately) bookstores. Another 50 “book towns” dot the globe, but none quite as delicious as Hobart. Explore any of their several bookstores — some organized around themes like old books or cookbooks or mysteries — to find your next read. Start at one end of Main Street and when you get to the other end, duck in to The Bull & Garland for a sumptuous country inn meal and a cocktail stiff enough to get you through the pages of your new tomes.
Wherever you go, books can transport you. In this case, quite literally, from small town to small town where cider, beer and cocktails await your literary adventure.