Tags Posts tagged with "Summer"

Summer

Photo from U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

By Herb Herman

Boating safely is more than common sense. While you don’t have to memorize the marine Rules of the Road to be a safe boater, a careful reading would be beneficial for every boater. Pass oncoming boats port-to-port, always have a look out, have a marine radio available and preferably tuned to channel 16. Use charts so you don’t go aground. Reduce speed in harbors and in tight quarters. Know what the buoys and other channel markers mean, and, above all, be mindful of your environment. The Coast Guard calls this “situational awareness,” a mindset that is useful anywhere and at anytime doing anything, though it’s especially important out on the water. 

Old salts, the veteran hands of boats and sailing, are not born that way — they learn by experience. There is, however, a better way: take a boating safety course. These days, thankfully, boating safety courses are required in most states. These courses are given by government and private parties. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron give excellent programs that are tried and true and can get a dedicated novice up to speed in a few hours. The problem is getting boaters to sign up for these courses. We have all kinds of excuses, ranging from limited time in our busy lives to talk of, “boating is like driving, all you have to do is steer the boat.” 

But boating is not so simple an activity. Steering a boat is nothing like driving a car. In driving, does the road flow in a direction different from the one you’re going? When’s the last time you’ve seen a road center lines on the water? Does the wind usually effect your driving? Put simply, boating is a unique activity and one that takes some learning to be proficient at.

Granted, there is no better teacher than experience. However, most of us didn’t learn how to drive by getting behind the wheel and driving. We usually took driver training course.  What, then, makes us think that handling a boat doesn’t require training? One full day or a couple of afternoon training sessions can add immeasurably to your enjoyment on the water and may even add years to your life. 

A central feature of the Coast Guard’s safety mantra is the Personal Floatation Device, i.e., life jackets. It is estimated that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims. Accidents can and do happen with terrifying speed on the water. There’s rarely time to reach stowed life jackets. These days floatation aids can be comfortable, so there is no excuse for not wearing one, except for, perhaps, your vanity. Doesn’t look good? How does a drowning victim look after being pulled from the water?

In fact, life jackets are required for jet skiers and paddle boaters. There are other requirements for these activities, all based on common sense. But common sense is sometimes lacking on the water. Observed in Mount Sinai Harbor last summer, a young woman on a stand-up paddler with a young child sitting there, neither of whom had on life jackets. And there are kayakers in Port Jefferson Harbor, silently gliding in and out of the mooring field while an equally mindless power boater heedlessly plows his way between the mooring buoys. These situations are disasters waiting to happen.

We have every opportunity to make this summer’s boating a safe one. Safe boating classes are readily available. Make it a family affair. Make your dream on the water come true and not end tragically. Have the family don their vests and tell them they look great. Don’t boat under the influence. Avoid speeding when it is clearly dangerous. Adhere to regulations that are posted for No Wake, etc. Make certain that your mechanical systems are functioning properly. Be prepared for someone falling overboard or some other accident. And above all, have a Vessel Safety Examination by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Contact the Port Jefferson Flotilla to arrange an inspection: email: info@cgapj.org or phone: 631-938-1705.

Have a great family summer on the water!

Herb Herman is the flotilla staff officer for public affairs, Port Jefferson Auxiliary Flotilla 14-22-06.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Schools are out, or almost out, trees are lush with leaves, people are beginning to wear shorts and sandals, and the temperatures are finally approaching the high 80s. It seems to have stopped raining. The lines after dinner at ice cream parlors stretch out the door and down the street. Dogs have their tongues hanging out when being walked. And it’s light until almost 9 p.m. Summer, glorious summer, has truly arrived.

It has been many years since my children enjoyed summer break from school’s routine and therefore I with them. Yet the feeling of relaxation that summer ushers in still floods my being. This is the time to make a barbecue and invite friends, enjoy the summer sky over some nice port in the long evening, lounge in the backyard, splash at the beach, watch a baseball game, sleep in a bit and read, read, read those books and magazines that have piled up on the bedside table all year long. It’s also the time to sail, swim, play, get lost on long walks and, in so many other ways, rejoice in the outdoors. There is even time to think.

Here is something tantalizing to think about. A letter published on the website Medium.com Monday, written and signed by a group of 18 billionaires, from 11 families, including financier George Soros, co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes, Abigail Disney and heirs to the Pritzker fortune, Liesel and Ian Simmons, urged government to tax them at a higher rate. They called for “a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1 percent of Americans — on us.”

Over the last three decades, the wealth of the top 1 percent grew by $21 trillion. Who can even visualize such sums? But the wealth of the bottom 50 percent fell by $900 billion — not hard to visualize by comparison because we can see the effects on American lives. 

The letter follows a similar declaration by investment guru Warren Buffett in 2011 encouraging greater tax on the richest. He revealed that his effective tax rate was actually lower than that of any other 20 people in his office. 

The richest pay 3.2 percent of their wealth in taxes versus 7.2 percent from the bottom 99 percent. President Barack Obama (D) picked up the suggestion at the time and called for a 30 percent tax for that population, dubbing it the “Buffett rule.” Not only was that never enacted, the latest round of tax cuts under President Donald Trump (R) have particularly helped those same richest Americans.

The Monday letter was addressed to all presidential contenders. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts and Democratic hopeful, has proposed a comparable strategy, recommending that those who have $50 million or more in assets, like stocks, bonds, yachts, cars and art, be subject to a wealth tax. That would include some 75,000 families and raise, in her estimation, $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years. That money could be put toward better child care, helping with education debt and the opioid and climate crises. Such a tax would strengthen American freedom and democracy and would be patriotic, it is claimed. Surveys show that about seven out of 10 people support this concept.

In 2014 Nick Hanauer, a successful Seattle entrepreneur, wrote a memo to “my fellow zillionaires” in which he advised the following: “[We are] thriving beyond dreams of any plutocrats in history, [while] the rest of the country — the 99.99 percent — is lagging far behind. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us.”

How is that for some heady stuff to occupy the mind and lessen any lazy guilt as our bodies are stretched out on the lounge?

by -
0 632
Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Most school district administrators and staff, like students and teachers, are able to take the summer to recharge and unwind. In Port Jefferson School District, Fred Koelbel, director of facilities and transportation, gets no such respite.

The overseer of all things buildings and grounds in the district was at the Sept. 17 board of education meeting to fill the board and the public in on the work done during the summer months and beyond. Some projects were completed using capital reserves while others were handled “in-house” by district employees, though virtually all were completed prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We had the opportunity to see a lot of these improvements firsthand, and I certainly would commend the staff that worked on them, it was impressive,” board President Kathleen Brennan said.

Koelbel spoke about some of the bigger projects accomplished by his team of workers.

“The biggest project we undertook, and it actually started before the summer, was the complete renovation of the electrical distribution system in the high school,” Koelbel said.

Beginning during spring break, Hauppauge-based All Service Electric Inc. re-fed power lines through underground trenches. Previously, power lines from outdoor polls into the school were fed along overhead lines, susceptible to the elements and to trees. The job was completed during the summer.

“This did two things for us — now if our power goes out, part of the grid went out and we’re much higher priority to get restored,” Koelbel said. “Before when it was, a tree knocked down a line on our property, it was just our property was out, and the neighborhood might still be on and we might not be as high of a priority. But now we also have more reliable service because it’s underground, so it’s not affected by the trees.”

He said the task wasn’t easy for the vendor and commended the job.

“It snowed on them, it rained, the trenches filled up with water, their boots were getting stuck in the mud and the clay, but they persevered and got lines in,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the work they did.”

The new underground feeds will soon also house the school’s cable and phone lines, eliminating the need for any cables fed to the school overhead.

Many of the projects were simpler to complete, though not necessarily less time consuming. The high school track was torn up and resurfaced. The second phase of a multiyear roof replacement project continued. Sidewalks in front of the high school were replaced, as were crumbling bricks in the façade of the exterior of the building. The section of the high school driveway nearest to the main entrance on Barnum Avenue was repaved.

One of the more visually noticeable upgrades took place in the high school gymnasium. Koelbel said a new sound system and video board were installed, and the walls were repainted purple and white.

“It really has a flavor of ‘welcome to our house,’” he said of the refurbished gym.

In the elementary school, the floors of two classrooms were removed and replaced, as were the carpeted floors in a couple of hallways.

“It’s like a huge Petri dish, it’s not a good choice,” he said of carpeting in elementary school hallways, which was replaced with tile flooring.

Several doors to classrooms in the elementary school were replaced as part of another multiyear implementation, as many were beginning to show their age, according to Koelbel. Door locks in both school buildings were upgraded as well.

Blinds on the windows of classrooms in both buildings were replaced with rolling shades. Additional security cameras were added across district buildings, as were fire extinguishers for every classroom, and several fire alarms were also upgraded at the high school.

District Superintendent Paul Casciano and Assistant Superintendent Sean Leister each commended Koelbel and the district’s staff for completing the projects in time for the start of school.

by -
0 846

Summer is about to end, and with it the most mellow time of the year. I’d like to leave this season with a gentle and accurate message that came from the internet and resonates with me:

A newlywed young man was sitting on the porch on a humid day, sipping ice tea with his father. As he talked about adult life, marriage responsibilities and obligations, the father thoughtfully stirred the ice cubes in his glass and cast a clear, sober look on his son.

“Never forget your friends,” he advised, “they will become more important as you get older. Regardless of how much you love your family, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally — if possible — but keep in contact with them somehow.”

“What strange advice!” thought the young man. “I just entered the married world. I am an adult and surely my wife and the family that we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life.”

Yet he obeyed his father, kept in touch with his friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, he became aware that his father knew what he was talking about.

Inasmuch as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a person, friends are the bulwarks of our life. After 70-plus years of life, here is what he, and you, and I will have learned:

Time passes.

Life goes on.

Children grow up. They cease to be children and become independent. And to the parents, it breaks their hearts but the children are separated from the parents because they begin their own families.

Jobs/careers come and go.

Illusions, desires, attraction, sex … weaken.

People can’t do what they did physically when they were young.

Parents die but you move on.

Colleagues forget the favors you did.

The race to achieve slows.

But true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles away they are. A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms and in some way blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called life, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other. Love your parents, take care of your family, but keep a group of good friends. Stay in touch with them. [Tell this to] your friends — even those you seldom see — who help make sense of your life. (End)

Friends, especially old friends, are witnesses to our life. They have helped us soldier though the hard times and been there with us for the celebrations and the fun times. We don’t have to explain much to them because they know most of the details already. They have aged along with us and can laugh at the same incongruities and absurdities that are specific to our generation. We can compare our satisfactions as well as our aches and pains, and share the advice and names of our physicians and our medicines. As we are reduced in stature, we are reduced together so the same relative heights hold and we continue on unperturbed.

Most satisfying is the shared wisdom that has come from living a substantial number of years. We can comfort each other as we laugh about the difficulties and perceived difficulties in our lives, and we never need to feel embarrassed about our thoughts or our hang-ups.

The most painful part comes with the inevitable loss of close friends. They are irreplaceable and their absence leaves a hole in our lives and our hearts. “I’m only going to befriend younger people I meet,” we declare. The same for our doctors and dentists, who have the temerity to retire or die.

So to my dear friends — and yes, those professionals who keep me together — just know how I treasure you.

July is truly upon us, and that means half the year is gone. Those who deal with numbers are busily tallying up all sorts of statistics for the first two quarters. Business people with large and small companies alike are checking to see how the numbers compare with last year, and what they can do to improve the depressed
bottom line — or maintain the improved bottom line for the next six months. And for those of us in the stock market with pension plans or investments, there will be half-year statements coming to let us know how we stand.

As we are taking stock of our stocks, there is this interesting bit of news to consider. According to a recent article by Matt Phillips in The New York Times, we are getting an important signal from the bond market. Now there are all sorts of predictors about which way stocks will move, from who wins ballgames to the length of hemlines, and they are often as wrong as the Farmers’ Almanac about the coming winter weather. But there is one telltale that is surprisingly accurate: the bond-yield curve. And that yield curve is “flashing yellow.”

Here is what the yield curve means. The yield curve is the difference between interest rates on short-term government bonds like those maturing in two years compared with those maturing further out, like 10 years. Remember that a bond is a promissory note to repay a debt that the government has incurred, along with interest on the debt, for a set period of time.

So, if the government borrows $10,000 from you and pays it back in two years, you will also get interest on that sum in return for lending the government the money. Normally the longer you agree to lend the money, the higher the interest rate you get in return for taking additional risk concerning the health of the economy. A healthy economy usually encourages inflation, which is countered by higher interest rates — hence an increased long-term rate, including the built-in risk compensation.

Lately, long-term interest rates on government bonds have been slow to rise, predicting a less healthy economy on the horizon. The short-term interest rates on government notes, as these instruments are called, have been rising, however, because inflation seems to have started. So the difference between the interest rates, short-term and long-term — the yield curve — has been decreasing or “flattening.” The difference between the two-year and 10-year interest rates is now about 0.34 percentage points, and the last time it was so little was just before the 2008 recession.

Does that mean a recession is coming?

If the trend continues, and the long-term interest rate dips below the short-term rate, this is called an “inversion.” An inversion is, according to the way John Williams — the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — told it earlier this year, “a powerful signal of recessions.” The Times article indicated that every recession in the last 60 years has been preceded by an inverted yield curve, when short-term interest is higher than that for the longer term. Only once was there a false positive, in the mid-1960s, when there was only a slowdown in the economy. That is why economists and those on Wall Street are watching the yield curve so closely these days.

This concern does seem to fly in the face of the present economic conditions. Unemployment is at a low, consumers seem to be happily spending and corporations are reinvesting in their companies. However accurate the yield-curve predictor may be, it cannot precisely tell us when a recession will occur. In the past, the falloff of the economy could happen in six months or two years after the inversion.

There is always another side to every story. Because central banks own massive amounts of government bonds, which they bought not so long ago to try and stimulate the economy by providing liquidity, that may be keeping long-term rates low. And the Federal Reserve has been tightening monetary policy lately to keep
inflation in check, hence higher short-term rates. So, who knows?

by -
0 598

Before we race through August and land on September, I’d like to suggest that we stop and smell the roses, among many other scents of summer.

At the top of the list of smells, on an island where marine life is never far away, is the smell of the ocean. As we lounge on our soft towels, caressed by a gentle breeze, we can breathe in the reviving, sweet smell of salty seawater.

Go to any beach during a summer day and you’ll also find the odor of sunscreen filling the air, courtesy of those spray-on bottles that seem to miss their target and head for the nostrils of the nearest sunbather as often as they reach exposed skin. While you may not want to eat sunscreen in getting away from your office, the smell can help you appreciate your favorite season, as is the case for my wife.

When you’re driving around town, you might reach a stop light or stop sign adjacent to a freshly cut lawn. I’ve always connected that smell with baseball fields, primarily because people started trimming their lawns around the same time as I played my abbreviated baseball season. When I was younger, I had as many games on my schedule in a year as this next generation seems to play in a month.

The atmospheric conditions in this light-intensive time collaborate to liberate the smell of mouthwatering food. At night or on weekends, the smell of a cookout can often encourage us to make a U-turn back to the supermarket to pick up some burgers, hot dogs and chicken.

I can’t drive anywhere near The Good Steer in Lake Grove without my nose acting like a sensory GPS, taking me back to my childhood and the spectacular onion rings that filled my plate.

Stand near just about any bakery in town and you’ll often have the opportunity to enjoy the best form of marketing, as the scent of freshly baked breads and cakes drifts down the street, leading us by our noses to their glass-enclosed treats.

When we were younger, my mother used to get on a sailboat, unpack our pretzels, turkey sandwiches and cold waters, pick up her head as if an old friend had called to her from the middle of the Long Island Sound and proclaim, “Oh, smell.”

Now, I recognize that the world is filled with the kind of foul odors that can turn a subway ride into a trip to “Dante’s Inferno” and that a visit to a friend’s house can also bring the pungency of wet dog to our nostrils.

The heat and the humidity, after all, is an equal-opportunity odor elevator, bringing everything to our attention including an awareness that the guy in the car next to us had garlic at lunch or the woman in line at the deli fell into the marsh in the morning.

Still, I prefer to focus on the proverbial odor glass as being half-full, as did some of my friends, who shared their favorite summer scents.

One person’s favorite smell is that of rain after the first drops fall, while another enjoys honeysuckle and the smell of jasmine from her native Beirut. A third enjoys the scent of coconut with lime or pineapple, and a fourth sings the praises of pine trees, mushrooms and wildflowers that remind him of his youth.

When we breathe in deeply enough these moments of summer rain, honeysuckle, coconuts and wildflowers, we can slow down the treadmill of time.

by -
0 622
Savory Black Grape Sorbet

Dessert and summer are a match made in heaven. Sweltering summer afternoons might not be comfortable, but any discomfort can be quickly washed away with a refreshing dessert, such as the following recipe for Kiwi Fruit Sorbet from Lou Seibert Pappas’ “Ice Creams & Sorbets” (Chronicle Books) or Savory Black Grape Sorbet from Family Features.

Kiwi Fruit Sorbet

Kiwi Fruit Sorbet
Kiwi Fruit Sorbet

YIELD: Makes about 1 quart

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons grated lime or lemon zest

3⁄4 cup sugar, divided

3⁄4 cup water

2 pounds kiwi fruit (about 8 kiwi fruit), peeled and quartered

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

2 limes, quartered

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, mash the zest with 1 teaspoon of the sugar to release the oils. Combine the remaining sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the syrup is clear. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. In a food processor or blender, purée the kiwi fruit with the juice, syrup and sugared zest. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, to freeze without an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a 9-inch nonreactive square pan. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze just until solid, 2 to 3 hours. Scrape out into an electric mixer or food processor and process briefly until light and fluffy. Serve at once or transfer to a container, cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. At serving time, garnish with a lime wedge to squeeze over each serving.

Savory Black Grape Sorbet

Savory Black Grape Sorbet
Savory Black Grape Sorbet

YIELD: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds (4 cups) black California seedless grapes, washed and stemmed

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vodka

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 large basil leaves

pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS: In a food processor or blender, puree grapes and sugar until smooth. Pour into small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until mixture has reduced by about one-third, about 15 minutes. Stir in vodka, lemon juice, basil and salt then let cool to room temperature. Pour mixture into shallow pan and freeze until hard, 3-4 hours. Transfer to food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy and lightened in color. Serve immediately.

by -
0 676

My brothers are getting ready to celebrate their birthdays, which are two days apart. OK, so, several years and two days apart, so, no, they aren’t twins who kept my mother in labor for more than 48 hours.

At times I thought perhaps I, the middle child, should have been born on the day in between them. That way, my parents would have gotten all the birthday parties for the year done in one week.

Then again, it would have been hard for any of us to own more than 24 hours if we were all making plans for something special in the same narrow window of time.

As a longtime baseball devotee and recreational player, I always imagined the best thing I could do on my birthday would be to attend a Yankees game.

Over time, the focus on my birthday has changed. Yes, I enjoy my wife’s chocolate chip cookies, which she bakes as often as I like and, yes, I enjoy the calls and the cards. However, I don’t anticipate the day the same way I did when I was my children’s age, as they count down the days, hours and minutes until their annual celebration.

My son, who also loves baseball — hmm, I wonder how that happened? — has often talked about going to a game on his birthday, which is, conveniently, during the summer. The biggest challenge to making that happen is that he plays baseball so often that his games often conflict with Yankee games. In fact, during some weeks in the summer, he plays more games than Alex Rodriguez. OK, well, maybe that’s a bad example because poor A-Rod, who is a shell of his former self, hasn’t gotten much playing time these days.

Back to birthdays, though, if I could choose between a summer and winter birthday, I’m not sure which way I’d go. Let’s lay out the advantages of a winter birthday: For starters, I might get one of those natural gifts, when a snow day would eliminate all the hustle and bustle as the world stops and is covered with a white blanket. Nice as that sounds, that never happened.

My school friends were around on my birthday. During the summer, some of my son’s friends go to camp, where they might send him a snapchat or a text message around his birthday, but they can’t hang out, eat cake and swim in a pool.

I could also go skiing on my birthday. I love racing fast enough down a mountain that my eyes water from speeding down a trail. And, after an incredible day at Killington or Mount Snow, both in Vermont, I could relax in a lodge, in front of a fireplace, with my tired feet and exhausted knees propped up on the hearth.

I also enjoyed going to the beaches during the winter, when the crowds were gone and I felt as if I owned the windswept landscape, from one end of West Meadow Beach to the other.

OK, how about the disadvantages? Tests were at the top of that list. When I was in school, a test on my birthday wasn’t as much of a wet blanket as a test the day after my birthday, when studying superseded any birthday celebration.

The movies around the middle of the winter never seemed as much fun to attend as the ones during the summer, perhaps because of the pressure to prepare for school.

Still, while the grass may be greener, literally, for summer birthdays and the baseball season may be in full swing, the winter birthdays give those of us looking for festivities during the colder, darker months something to celebrate.

Ideally, we can enjoy these festivities all-year round, as we celebrate with our friends and family, particularly during frenetic birthday weeks. 

by -
0 580
Limoncello is the perfect summer cocktail.

By Bob Lipinski

“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.”  — G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

If you’re like me, you probably enjoy cocktails year-round and perhaps you may even have a favorite one or even two. When I entertain specialty, cocktails abound replete with fancy names, a multitude of ingredients and compliments. I thought I’d share with you some of my homemade cocktails that will satisfy even the pickiest palate. However, in order for the cocktails to smell and taste authentic, the brands and measurements listed below must be followed.

Key Lime Pie Cocktail 

This cocktail smells and tastes just like Key Lime Pie!

2 parts Cruzan Vanilla Rum

1 part pineapple juice

1/2 part Rose’s Lime Juice Splash Sprite (not diet)

Mix or shake the first three ingredients with ice, add Sprite, quickly stir and enjoy.

Bourbon Margarita

Use the same ingredients as you would for a margarita, except substitute bourbon for tequila and rim the glass with sugar instead of salt.

Tom Collins

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade

1 (6-ounce) can of gin

2 (12-ounce) cans of lemon soda

Several sprigs of mint

Blend the first two ingredients, then stir in the soda and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Piña Colada Martini

Equal parts of…

Cruzan Pineapple Rum

Cruzan Coconut Rum

Shake with ice and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple.

Sours

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade

1 (6-ounce) can water

1 (6-ounce) can whiskey (any type)

Blend with plenty of ice and serve in a chilled glass. Top with a cherry. Bob’s Blender Margarita Use the same ingredients for your traditional margarita, except substitute fresh lemon juice for the lime juice and before cutting the lemon, zest the outer skin and add to the blender. The cocktail will be slightly tart with an incredible aroma and flavor of fresh lemon.

Limoncello

1 dozen large lemons

1-liter bottle 80-proof vodka

2 cups white sugar

3 cups cold water

Peel thin strips of lemon, avoiding the white pith. Macerate the peels in vodka for two weeks. Strain the liquid removing the peel. Make simple syrup by dissolving sugar in water over medium heat. Once the syrup is cooled, add it to the lemon-infused vodka. Mix and allow to settle for 24 hours, then chill and serve.

Cheesecake Cocktail

Smells and tastes exactly like cheesecake!

2 parts Cruzan Vanilla Rum

One part each of pineapple juice and cranberry juice

Blend or shake with ice and serve in a cocktail glass.

Vodka Punch

12 ounces of 80 proof vodka

2 (6-ounce) cans of frozen lemonade

2 cans of orange juice (use empty lemonade cans)

1 bottle seltzer (33 ounces)

1 bottle ginger ale (33 ounces)

1 can (16 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained

24 pitted maraschino cherries, drained

Mix the above ingredients with a wooden spoon, add ice cubes, chill and serve.

By the way … I’ll be over later for a vodka martini, “shaken, not stirred!”

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

All of Pindar’s grapes are grown on its 500-acre property and are pressed in its on-site winemaking and bottling facility. Photo by Alex Petroski

It seems in today’s world that any venue meant for social gathering has two hard and fast rules in common with all of the others — no outside food is allowed in, and what’s offered on hand will cost an arm and a leg. It is a truism for concerts, beaches, baseball games and even most vineyards. Pindar Vineyards is a delightful exception to the rule.

Known for its extensive variety of wines, both types and styles, the 37-year-old family-owned vineyard allows visitors to bring in outside food to accompany a day of wine tasting and sightseeing on Pindar’s 500-acre property. It might not seem like a defining feature, but it is a characteristic that paints a broader picture of warmth, accommodation and overall customer service that has been a staple of the vineyard since Dan Damianos founded Pindar in 1979.

Pindar Vineyards is located on Route 25 in Peconic and is accommodating to groups large and small. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards is located on Route 25 in Peconic and is accommodating to groups large and small. Photo by Alex Petroski

“We’re kind of known as that friendly vineyard,” Melissa Martin, who handles public relations for the vineyard, said in an interview in Pindar’s tasting room in Peconic last week.

“Wine is fun. We take it seriously as well,” Martin said. “We take the winemaking seriously. However, we understand people coming out here to visit, we want them to be more relaxed and enjoy it. I like to educate people on the notes that are in the wine. No one should feel uptight about it or afraid to ask questions.”

Damianos passed away in 2014, though his children remain a major part of the vineyard’s day-to-day operations and continue to foster a welcoming atmosphere.

“Dr. Damianos, that was his thing,” Martin said of his friendly demeanor and lifelong dedication to making customers feel like part of the family. “He was always here and talking to everyone and very personable, so we really want to carry that on.”

Pindar’s wines are also known for their approachability. The vineyard offers more than 20 selections currently, with an emphasis on appealing to wine drinkers of varied experience levels. Edward Lovaas is preparing for his sixth harvest as Pindar’s winemaker.

“We have everything from wines on the sweeter side, wines on the dryer side, sparkling, red wines, dessert wines — so I think it’s pretty easy to say someone coming here for the first time, we make it easy for them to select the tasting they want and find a favorite,” Martin said.

The sheer size of Pindar’s tasting room and outdoor seating areas add to its ability to accommodate groups large and small. Martin said they are welcoming to bridal parties making a stop in a limo to a couple walking in just hoping to try something new, and everything in between.

Pindar Vineyards has expansive seating areas both inside and out that allow for groups of any size to enjoy their favorite wine, food and beautiful sights all at once at the Peconic Vineyard. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards has expansive seating areas both inside and out that allow for groups of any size to enjoy their favorite wine, food and beautiful sights all at once at the Peconic Vineyard. Photo by Alex Petroski

Martin described what she envisions as a perfect day at Pindar.

“The perfect day at Pindar is doing a tasting, finding your favorite wine, getting bottles and then finding a spot on the deck or on the pavilion or on the grass,” and that’s where allowing outside food, picnic style, sets Pindar apart, she said.

For Martin the wine of choice on said perfect day would be either Pindar Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier for a white or Syrah in a red. Martin added she has a personal passion for finding the perfect pairing of food to go with each wine Pindar has to offer.

The vineyard frequently hosts events from live music, to visits from food trucks if picnicking isn’t appealing, to an upcoming event that will feature a raw bar and seafood for wine club members. In its wine shop location on Main Street in Port Jefferson, Martin has spearheaded a cupcake and wine-pairing event. Tours are also offered on select dates of the vineyards grounds and bottling facility for those interested in the science of wine.

The end of July is the best time to visit Pindar, according to Martin. Every year its sunflower fields bloom around that time, and this year a professional photo booth will be on hand to snap and print keepsakes for the popular annual attraction.

North Shore residents looking for a relaxing, accommodating wine and food experience should keep Pindar Vineyards in mind, for the sights, tastes and feeling.

Pindar Vineyards offers more than 20 different types of wines with nearly every imaginable style accounted for. Photo by Alex Petroski
Pindar Vineyards offers more than 20 different types of wines with nearly every imaginable style accounted for. Photo by Alex Petroski