Why We Offer 120 Distinct Whiskies

June is Summit House Whisk(e)y Month, allowing guests to explore a vast world of brown spirits. 

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With 120 whisk(e)y labels on premises, Summit House is proud to offer one of Northern New Jersey's most comprehensive collections. We've taken a snapshot from around the world, offering a broad landscape of varieties at all different price points. Hopefully, your go-to bottle is already on our list. 

That said, it's not enough to simply boast about the depth of our bar as our rarer bottles simply get dusty. Our goal is to give guests the opportunity to enjoy these fantastic brands, to explore new tastes and to learn about this amazingly diverse industry.

Liquor drinkers tend to stay in their lane, ordering the same one or two brands every time they step up to the bar. And this makes sense. It can be a pricy endeavor to explore this terrain. Throughout June, as we celebrate dads and also welcome moms, we'll make the research easier and more affordable, with a drink menu that includes three superb whisk(e)y flights

The American. $18.
Varieties of local staples bourbon and rye
1792 Small Batch; High West American Prairie; Old Overholt Bonded

The Allocation. $25.
Geographically rationed labels: there's only so much available each year
Elmer T. Lee; High West Bourye; Michter's Straight Rye -- $40

The Worldly 12s. $40.
A taste of elite whisk(e)y from around the globe
Yamazaki 12-year; Auchentoshan 12-year; Tullamore DEW 12-year -- $65

Whisk(e)y* 101

*For starters, how do you spell it? In Scotland, Japan and Canada it's without the "e," though some brands break that rule.

Bourbon & Rye

Traditionally from Kentucky, these browns are, by law, made from either 51 percent corn or rye, though many distillers far exceed. Bourbon tends towards sweeter caramel and vanilla tones (1792 Small Batch, High West American Prairie, Elmer T. Lee). Rye, a much heartier grain than corn, yields spirits that have an assertive, spicy tone (Old Overholt Bonded, Michter’s). A blend of the two types is new to the scene (High West Bourye) and as elusive to encounter as the jackalope on the label.

Worldly Whiskies

Scotland has always ruled the roost, with “Single Malt” being the top dog (Auchentoshan 12 yr). Single means it comes from a single distillery and malt means that all the grain used is malted barley. Beyond this, the range of flavors is very dynamic, from fruity to deep smoky. Irish Whiskey, considered the birthplace of all Whiskey since 6th century A.D., tends to present a cleaner fruit and nut note (Tullamore DEW 12yr). Lastly, a newcomer to the scene, our Japanese Whisky (Yamazaki 12yr). Japan started producing whisky about a century ago, using Scotland's efforts as its model. Japanese labels are highly sought out and rare to find stateside.  

Keep exploring, folks. It's worth it.



Four-Star Reviews From Critics and Diners Alike

Summit House is honored to have earned rave reviews from both media outlets and our guests throughout our first year in operation. 

Debuting April 2017, it took NJ.com just over a month to call us a "Four-Star Masterpiece," complimenting Executive Chef Martin Kester's food and every other element of the environment we took our time to create. 

Attention to detail means many nice touches, including the hot towels after the appetizers and the card we were given so we could pick up our leftovers at the front of the house, instead of having the bags clutter our table. The sourdough bread, made by milling local grain in house, offers a snapshot of the restaurant’s philosophy as a welcome. Service is smooth and just friendly enough under the direction of general manager Justin Lord, formerly the sommelier at Per Se in New York.

Just this March, the restaurant earned three Readers' Choice Awards from Millburn-Short Hills Magazine, confirming that almost a year after opening, we remain on the right track with respect to keeping guests happy. Named Favorite Fine Dining Restaurant, Favorite Place to See and Be Seen, and Favorite Place to Meet for a Drink, we were also tapped as runners-up in the magazine's Favorite Seafood Stop and Favorite Brunch Spot categories.

Thanks go out to our amazing guests, an incredibly talented team of employees and the ceaselessly welcoming Summit, New Jersey, community.

Haven't visited us before? We'd love to see you for lunch, dinner, a drink at the bar or Sunday Farmer's Market Brunch. 

Why Sustainable Seafood Matters to Summit House

By Martin Kester, Executive Chef

It’s becoming impossible to ignore the dire state of the world’s oceans and the degree to which they are overfished. Sourcing and supporting programs that push farm-raised industry standards towards the highest sustainability and lowest environmental impact is an initiative Summit House fully embraces.

As consumers and restaurants, we have great power create change by educating ourselves about the foods we choose to purchase and sell.

Our seafood is carefully sourced by purveyor Sona-Far Hills Seafood, drawing from sustainable, wild and farm-raised sources as approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, which helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean, now and for future generations.

Summit House focuses mostly on local East Coast species and we do proudly offer some excellent farm-raised fish. 

Our raw bar program highlights local East Coast shellfish with some seasonal offerings from around the country. We regularly feature three species of Crassostrea virginica, more commonly known as the Eastern oyster. Focusing on a single species is a great way to highlight the source of the oysters, as the flavor profile, much like wine, varies significantly depending upon the waters in which they are raised.

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One of the oyster companies we work closely with is 40 North Oyster FarmThey are currently farming oysters on several separate leases along the Barnegat Bay. For centuries, New Jersey was home to a vibrant oyster industry until a bacteria outbreak in the 1950s led to a collapse of the ecosystem. Today, there are only a handful of recently formed oyster farms in New Jersey working to rebuild the industry and our waterways. In addition to being a truly delicious local product, it's revival will have a truly beneficial impact on our local environment.

If you haven't taken a moment to watch our day visiting 40 North, it's worth the time. And so is any effort you make to think sustainably when consuming seafood.

Supporting the Arts in Our Hometown

Our first foray into outside catering was for a cause near and dear to Team Summit House: the Arts. 

We recently joined Hendrick's Gin as gold sponsors of "Gin & Jazz," an event to raise funds for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, the more than 80-year-old Summit-based organization whose mission includes a dedication to bringing art and people together. Our motto is #communitythroughcuisine, so we're delighted to join forces with a group that cares so deeply about community. 

Here's a brief glimpse of the 180-person event, including the appetizers Executive Chef Martin Kester put together for the evening.

Click through to enjoy the slideshow:

Say Hello to the Summit House Summer Cocktails

With summer suddenly upon us and Summit House now open for Sunday Farmer's Market Brunch, lead bartender Bobby Frascella created a number of new cocktails perfect for early Sunday afternoon or any time your want to feel as though you're on vacation. All ingredients other than spirits, bitters, and sodas are made by Bobby, and the garnishes are prepared fresh on a daily basis by our bar staff.

And if you haven't checked out brunch yet, service runs from 10:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. We begin serving alcohol as soon as the clock strikes noon, the earliest currently allowed in Summit. Stop in then or any night of the week and let us know what you think.

Jerry's Caprese Shrub: (Served only during brunch) Jerry's Vodka, tomato-basil shrub and BBQ bitters, garnished with a coppa "flower," a slice of capocollo filled with a mozzarella ball and and basil leaves. 

A light, refreshing alternative to the bloody mary, shrub (basically a combination of fruit, sugar, vinegar, water) has its origins in 17th-century England, where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the offseason. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America.

By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit (traditionally berries), which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup. The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails. 

Framboesa Beret: Avua Cachaaca, raspberry-mint syrup and limes, garnished with fresh raspberries and mint. 

The addition of raspberry (Framboesa in Portuguese) and mint to the classic Caipirniha, the national drink of Brazil, gives it that extra spring/summertime punch.

Melón de Vida: Vida Mezcal, Melon Puree, Honeydew Syrup, lime, Bittermens Hellfire bitters, soda, garnished with cantaloupe balls.

The combination of smoke from the spirit and the light sweetness of the honeydew is a great way for newcomers to Mezcal to enjoy, but not feel overwhelmed but its unique vegetal and smokey qualities. 

Mezcal is growing in popularity every day and is one of Bobby's favorite spirits with which to work.

SPF 30: Plantation pineapple, Mezan XO, grapefruit oleo-saccharum, pineapple syrup, lime, angostura bitters, garnished with pineapple leaves.

Looking for a drink to get you into beach or pool mode without having to deal with the traffic and blazing heat? Here you are!

Many Shades of Pink as Our Wine List Evolves for Summer

The U.S. market took a bit longer than those in most mediterranean cultures to realize chilled pink wine is more than just tasty and refreshing; it's a perfect complement to the foods of late spring and summer. 

But caught on, we have. For the past five years or so, rosés have become the drink of summer and the current Summit House wine list reflects this trend. So, as Northern Jersey heats up this week and we head toward summer, take a look at some of the rosés we're serving:

 The Summit House rosé list comes in many shades of pink

The Summit House rosé list comes in many shades of pink

  • Robert Sinskey, "Vin Gris," Carneros, California, 2016  -- Its 25th vintage.  Mr. Sinskey was one of the first American winemakers to branch out in to rosé, helping to popularize it since 1991. 
  • Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre, Loire Valley, 2016  -- Like the Sinskey, it's made with Pinot Noir and from that grape has a light blush color and a zippy acidity. Perfect complement to high-acid foods such as local heirloom tomatoes.
  • Mas de Daumas Gassac, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vin Mousseux, France, 2016 -- One of the first sparkling Cabernet Sauvignons that I've had the pleasure of trying.  From the Languedoc of Southern France. Plus, its Bubbly :)
  • Liquid Farm, "Vogelzang Vineyard," Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, California, 2016 -- Made from the Provençal grape Mourvedre by the Nelsons of the Central Coast, mainly from the region of Happy Canyon. It certainly lives up to its name.
  • Ameztoi, "Rubentis," Getariako Txakolina, Basque, Spain, 2016 -- From the region know as Txakoli in Northern Spain. It's made from Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarabbi Beltza. These two grapes are known to pair with the local crudo and raw shellfish dishes of the region and the rosé follows suit nicely.
  • Yves Leccia, Nielluccio, Patrimonio, Corsica, 2016 -- This Corsican delight is made from the grape Niellucio, which for the longest time was thought to be closely related to Sangiovese. It does have the zingy nature of Sangiovese, but has a certain weight that allows this rosé to pair well with grilled meat dishes. Especially Chef Marty's Grilled Pork Chop.

House-Made Pasta Blooms in Summit House Kitchen

All our pasta is made in-house, adding a level of freshness and flavor that translates to the dishes we place on your table. 

The bronze attachment on our extruder, seen below, is known as the die. It can be swapped out to create different pasta shapes. We're currently extruding semolina campanelle. Shaped like a flower, it's a perfect spring pasta. 

The extruder makes about five pounds of pasta per batch.

Chef Martin's current menu features campanelle with morels, ramp greens and smoked bacon. He sources the morels, seen below, both locally and from the Pacific Northwest, where they're also in season and more abundantly foraged.

 Morel mushrooms

Morel mushrooms

The ramps, which grow wild throughout the Northeast early in spring, are a perfect complement of garlicky flavor, and the bacon comes from the finest heritage breed Berkshire pork.

The final result? A pasta dish that shows off the best of the season.


Don't Fear the Bloody Butcher

Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties, those made from seeds so good they're worthy of being passed down through the generations. 

At some point, the world decided to start growing vegetables based on yield or other cost-saving factors, devaluing flavor in the process. Some, however, resisted by holding onto their seeds and keeping them going year after year. We're thankful for those who've taken the time to preserve these flavorful ingredients, and Chef Martin uses heirlooms throughout his menu.

For example, we source our grains from Castle Valley Mill in nearby Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and Castle Valley works with farms that grow a specific heirloom variety of corn known as Bloody Butcher, so named for the bright red exterior of its kernel. 

 Bloody Butcher corn, courtesy Castle Valley Mills

Bloody Butcher corn, courtesy Castle Valley Mills

 Bloody Butcher corn 

Bloody Butcher corn 

Chef Martin and team mill the flavorful Bloody Butcher in-house to be used as a corn cake. It's then served as a dessert with fresh strawberries, house-made strawberry sorbet, a strawberry jam flavored with smoked paprika and a touch of crème fraîche. 

Try the Bloody Butcher dessert this spring, perhaps complemented by one of our several rosés. They're a perfect way to cap off a flavor-filled meal. 

Ramping Up in Early Spring

One of the first edibles to show up each New Jersey spring is the ramp, a wild, garlicky, leek-like member of the onion family. Its annual arrival is short-lived and dramatic.

"When they do show, it's a frenzy; they're everywhere," says Chef Martin, who is currently using ramps in two Summit House dishes. 

With bright green nine-inch leaves that makes them easy to spot, ramps are usually found within about 100 yards of water. Chef Martin forages for some in a favorite spot along the Raritan River, also occasionally sourcing from Northern New Jersey purveyor Foraged Feast.

He chops the greens and tosses them into his house-made campanelle pasta, along with morel mushrooms and smoked bacon. 

 House-made campanelle, with ramp greens, morels and smoked bacon

House-made campanelle, with ramp greens, morels and smoked bacon

The bottom of the ramp looks like a stemmed garlic clove, though it's less hot. It's more of a cross between garlic and a leek.

 Pickled ramp

Pickled ramp

Chef Martin pickles that part of the ramp, adding it to his lightly cured fluke appetizer along with rhubarb, radish and lemon balm. 

 Lightly cured fluke with rhubarb, pickled ramp, radish and lemon balm.

Lightly cured fluke with rhubarb, pickled ramp, radish and lemon balm.

Try the ramp in either dish and let us know what you think, but do it fast because soon ramp season will have passed. It lasts for just four or five weeks. Enjoy! 

Chicken Wings and Cauliflower: a Chef Martin Recipe

Looking for a spicy, interesting take on chicken wings this football playoff season? Chef Martin has the answer: dry-rubbed chicken wings and cauliflower in espelette, coriander and black pepper. Here's his recipe:

  • 2 dozen Large Chicken Wings
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Espelette Pepper Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander Seed
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 Limes

Preheat oven to 350 F

  • Prepare chicken wings ahead of time by spreading them out on a small sheet pan
  • Season liberally with salt and pepper, adding 1/2 cup of water to the tray
  • Bake until chicken wings are cooked through and water is gone, 30-40 minutes
  • This step will speed up your final cooking time and give you a crispier wing because the fat has already been rendered. You can do this up to one day ahead of serving

Prepare cauliflower by turning the head upside down and cutting around the stem to remove the core. From the inside, free the florets by cutting the connecting stems. Next, cut the florets into pieces approximately the size of your chicken wings by splitting them through the stem into two or four pieces.

Preheat oven to 425 F

  • Toss the chicken wings & cauliflower separately with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt
  • Arrange each separately onto small sheet pans without pieces touching
  • Bake until the wings and cauliflower are crispy and caramelized to your taste
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl and season liberally with the spices and salt, tossing to coat them
  • Arrange on platter and serve with slices of lime for you guests to squeeze over their plates
  • You can also drizzle with honey or serve with your favorite dipping sauce

Enjoy, and best of luck to your team!