Around the Island

Drinks and Eats — Relaxing at the Ram’s Head Inn

If you’re in search of a thirst quencher that’s perfectly matched to time and place, take a seat on the Ram’s Head Inn terrace and order one of their specialties. “Lawn Games” has Shelter Island in its DNA.

The Inn’s own homegrown lavender is infused in simple syrup, which is mixed with Hendrick’s Gin and fresh squeezed lemon. After stirring, it’s topped with sparkling water, a lemon wedge and a sprinkling of lavender flowers.

Cool, refreshing and fragrant all at once.

A colorful special, the “Coecles Cure,” builds on Ketel cucumber vodka, shaken with fresh watermelon juice. Served on the rocks with a splash of sparkling water and a slice of cucumber, it’s as summery as the Fourth of July. You might try a Menhaden Margarita, Hay Beach Lemonade or Reel Point Mule while you soak up the atmosphere.

Visiting the Ram’s Head, with its lush old trees and white Adirondack chairs dotting the graceful lawn sloping down to Coecles Harbor, always suggests peering back in time. Through its 90-year history, it has repeatedly been renovated but always maintained its original character. Families staying at the Inn or dining can let their children play in the playground or chase each other around the lawn, like generations before.

The current phase of restaurant reopening permits outdoor dining as well as takeout, and the Inn has ample space for enjoying a meal al fresco. The early days of the COVID shutdown were difficult for the owners, James and Linda Eklund, as they were for most Island proprietors, but they pushed through. When local hospitals were overwhelmed early in the pandemic, they provided free takeout meals for nurses and other frontline healthcare workers as a way of saying “Thanks.”

The Inn has an extensive roster of musicians who customarily play in their Harbor Hall. When they were not able to have guests, the Eklunds had the musicians perform and live-streamed the shows. It helped support the musicians and provide cheering entertainment to isolated Islanders.

Once you’ve cooled off with a refreshing beverage, you’ll find something for every taste on the restaurant menu. The Island’s favorite local Peeko oysters are offered, along with grilled shrimp and duck spring rolls. The entrees range from striped bass, salmon or scallops to duck, rack of lamb, grilled beef tenderloin and a vegetable lasagna. In between are burgers, lobster rolls, crabcakes and more.

The live music continues on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with Sara Mundy, Points East and the Unsung Heroes, among others. Wafting out the doors of Harbor Hall, it encourages guests to linger on the terrace as the long summer days wind down to glorious sunsets.