EDGARTOWN — It is afternoon on the Vineyard in mid-August and the president is on the other side of the island. It seems time for a cocktail.
At the Atlantic Fish and Chophouse on Main Street in Edgartown, sun pours through the windows and doors onto the patio overlooking the harbor. Tourists squeezing the last few weeks out of the season trickle in slowly, unknowingly passing by White House aides in T-shirts and bathing suits, enjoying the high summer weather.
On the bar arrives the venue’s Left Bank martini.
Mixed with terrific speed, the Left Bank is Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and Sahara Burst grapefruit juice. This is the high-quality juice, not the compromised offerings from the soda gun, and at $13.50 for the libation, good thing.
There’s a pleasant balance, the juice and liqueur cutting the gin, although the Left Bank, served in a martini glass, does not overwhelm with its size.
The Atlantic is ideal for the island’s deep-pocketed tourists, and features a brightly decorated nautical theme and a sizeable menu of steaks and fish, though there are more affordable burgers and individual pizzas, as well. The lobster arugula salad — with walnuts, dried cranberries, and a light raspberry vinaigrette — was excellent, with plenty of claw and tail meat.
Regulars claim that the culinary options expand pleasantly in the 4 p.m. hour, when the bar staff sets out free bacon, arranged in floral formations.
The Island Queen ferry schedule forbids such tarrying. But the bar staff is pleasant and accommodating, taking a break from their regular, brisk gin-and-tonic trade to chat with regulars and first-timers.
The seemingly annual presidential visit, one staffer said, has evolved from a lucrative novelty for businesses on the island into a “huge pain in the rear,” with its accompanying motorcade-induced traffic jams.
“We love the Secret Service, though,” another chimes in. “They’re a lot of fun. They like to have a good time.”
So, too, apparently, do some of the Atlantic’s nighttime patrons. One has returned on the weekday afternoon for a hair-of-the-dog remedy and she recounts “putting on a clinic” the evening before in the part of the restaurant where the tables are cleared for dancing at night.
Using eyebrows, the staff confirms the patron’s account.
With two fellow islanders, bartenders discuss the various cocktail options elsewhere on the island.
There is the famed Elvis at the Lookout Tavern in Oak Bluffs, a concoction of cream, cocoa, banana rum, and traditional rum, with a scoop of peanut butter — an homage to the King’s diet.
At the Park Corner Bistro, also in Oak Bluffs, it’s the possibly sacrilegious Holy Water martini. At the nearby, venerable Nancy’s, the Frozen Banana, a closely guarded frozen blend recipe.
The Vineyard, island playground for the idle and the idyllic, proffers no shortage of pleasing refreshments.
Challenged for her own submission to the genre, one member of the Atlantic staff responds with the eponymous Kelly Special. Sprightly and refreshing, it’s Ketel Citroen, Pavan liqueur, and club soda, with a lemon garnish. It is, perhaps, the quintessential summer drink, an amuse-bouche in liquid form.
And gone far too quickly. Even on the Vineyard, summer, and its potables, slide away too fast.