It's one thing when a hotel has style, luxury, first-rate amenities, great location and food. It's another when it has mind-reading bartenders like Ed Zynko.
Telepathic powers may be overstating it, but at a recent stay at The Study at Yale on Chapel Street, New Haven, a five-year old boutique hotel nestled in the thick of Yale's cultural center, we were at the bar Thanksgiving night where Zynko, a veteran barkeep with 25 years experience, asked what we want. I was specifically vague, saying “something with rum.” Five minutes of intense creation later, Zynko whipped up the best rum punch I’ve ever had, and since I go to the Caribbean quite a bit, that's saying something.
He created a concoction of equal parts spiced rum, dark rum, and white over-proofed rum, orange juice, a double dose of lime juice, grapefruit juice and cranberry juice, touching it up with six dashes of bitters, then grating a lovely crust of nutmeg over all and garnishing it with fresh fruit that included a skewer of three Luxardo imported maraschino cherries, the finest I've ever tasted.As if I didn't love the hotel at that point, Zynko's rum punch sealed the deal. The bar is at the side of the Heirloom, the hotel's restaurant, which uses heritage growers and neighboring artisan suppliers from Connecticut and New England for Chef Carey Savona's farm-coastal cooking, with a wine collection from around the world. The restaurant is on the hotel's first floor with floor-to-ceiling windows, next to a lobby with plush chairs and couches and a wall of books you're welcome to browse, pull up a chair and read. That's by design, more hotels are providing comfortable reading areas and things to read these days, as a way of getting you to stick around awhile. The lobby also has a small cafe, and a Mac in the corner facing the street for guests to use.
The rooms aren’t terribly expensive, starting around $150, nicely appointed and warm toned, contemporary in style with ergonomic reading chairs by a wall-to-wall working desk (a basket of Study-embossed pencils is a nice literary touch), with larger rooms and suites having bookshelves crammed with reading material. Our fourth-floor room looked out over the New Haven skyline, church spires abounding, and a thicket of slate-roofed brick buildings surrounding us.
The Study is in the belly of the arts center at Yale and embraces it within: The hotel has the Aisling Gallery, a space offering Yale School of Art and Architecture students the chance to show their works on a rotating basis. Nearby are august arts sites such as the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale Peabody Museum and Yale Center of British Art, among many others.
The city itself has lots going on, including seasonal attractions such as free horse-drawn sleigh rides around New Haven green on Saturdays in December; Holiday Mart/Projects Storefront through Dec. 22, where local art, jewelry, home décor, vintage clothing and more is displayed, along with art workshops and live music; and caroling, Santa visits, and holiday-themed shows at the Shubert Theater, as well as regular arts and restaurant weeks.
New Haven is a surprising place, if you know where to look. To find out more, visit www.infonewhaven.com. And stop by The Study for a drink. Ed Zynko will know exactly what you want.
Photos from The Study at Yale