Don't Mock It Til Ya Tried It
by Abbie Rogers
When it comes down to the connection between spirit and station, some truths are just plain self-evident. Louisville is known for a mean mint julep, Long Island, its debilitating iced tea; Miami’s got mojitos and Manhattans didn’t exactly grow out of a pasture in Kansas.
Sitting at the bar of State Road Restaurant, March rain tapping overhead, I swear the Vineyard’s got them all beat. At $8/glass, iced to perfection and without a trace of alcohol—the State Road mocktail is an indulgence that rivals any of its alcoholic contemporaries.
As the story goes, when State Road opened its doors in 2009, it was licenseless: no beer, no wine, just ‘mocks’ on the menu and the option to BYOB. Many did, and so the tavern built a brilliant business model on ready-made mixers to complement any carry-in.
This all changed in 2012, when mid-Island voters approved new regulations to allow for the sale of beer and wine in restaurants with a seating capacity of 50 or more, so long as the beverage is served with a meal. So the fledgling establishment bid goodbye to a familiar (and profitable) BYOB policy. But, while they claimed the first of five West Tisbury licenses, State Road kept mocks around, remarketing them to appeal to a broader audience. Today, mocks are offered anytime to customers desiring a light and refreshing treat.
In each drink, citrus is hand-squeezed over ice, briefly shaken and brought right to the table. The result is so fresh and cool you’d swear to have sucked nectar from the fruit’s rind yourself.
Three staples are offered throughout the spring season: the “Stormy” (ginger beer and lime) and the “Coast” (grapefruit, club, lime and salt) are named in simple island fashion; the third, the “Mule,” seems to take its cue from a harder Eastern European predecessor—I recommend this as the season favorite. Infused with pineapple, honey and ginseng, Reed’s Jamaican-Style Ginger Beer amalgamates with fresh lemon and lime to form a tangy caramelized elixir. Illuminated by the surrounding votives and an agrarian-inspired chandelier from above, it glows from within an oxidized copper mug. The result is a two-fold sensation that both warms and refreshes—the perfect companion to the Island’s unpredictable spring forecast.
In a few more weeks, State Road’s on-premises garden will be in full bloom, bringing an abundant harvest. Spearmint, rosemary, lavender, raspberries and a ream of fresh flowers are just a few ingredients to potentially make up the next big mock.