Since 1929, Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island has been a go-to spot to gather, relax and escape the grind of everyday life. Never one to rest on the laurels of being a summertime staple, co-owners Linda and James Eklund did some off-season renovating. Expect the Harbor Hall lounge you’ve been listening to Sunday Night Jazz in since the 1980s to look and sound a little different.
There will still be great music—even more, perhaps, and you’ll be able to hear it better thanks to an enhanced speaker system. The improved lighting includes pendant fixtures and more light behind the bar that makes the glass rack sparkle, and you’ll be able to sip a crafted cocktail at a newly installed mahogany tabletop.
“My husband likes to say, ‘Owning an old building is like owning the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you’ve finished everything you wanted to do, it’s time to do something again,’” Linda said. “You always want to do something that’s going to create a spark when someone walks through the door.”
Expanding the lounge became something of a necessity after the Eklunds gave guests the chance to extend their much-needed getaways a day longer by opening the inn on Tuesdays last year. Dinner in the lounge and kitchen became more like free-flowing experimentation, with food and drink pairings and tastings. The kicker? The extra night at the hotel was free for guests as part of “Tuesdays On Us” promotion.
“There’s no set format, it’s that day where we can play around,” Linda said. “We do all kinds of things and someone was like, ‘Why don’t we do music there also?’”
The Eklunds obliged. Though the lounge got a facelift, this year the cocktail menu will be more of a throwback. Bar manager Harry Brigham will be making cocktails with hand-squeezed juices and top-shelf liquor. Think the Sun Splash made with lemon, lime and orange juices, orange blossom water, orange-flavored vodka, Cointreau and a splash of cranberry juice.
“On Shelter Island, people have great bars and wine lists, but I wanted to go a step further and I really thought our clientele would be willing to wait those extra few minutes while they watched their cocktail being created,” Linda said.
It is vacation, after all, and that “enjoy-yourself” vibe has helped Ram’s Head Inn stand the test of time.
“It’s just a comfortable place,” Eklund said. “We’re not trying to be anything other than that. People can come dressed up, people can come dressed down and everybody feels like they fit right in.”