If you follow me on Instagram, it should be no surprise I’m absolutely head over heels with Hamlet & Ghost. It is a go to anytime I’m in Saratoga, or even just a quick stop on my way to Common Roots and back. They are serving up some of the best cocktails in the Capital Region, and their food is just as on point as well. As both their food and drink menus have been evolving quickly, some of the items pictured here may have changed, but here are some of my favorite dishes and cocktails I’ve enjoyed there on my many visits since they’ve opened up.
My relationship with Hamlet & Ghost started with a little bit of a hiccup. My first attempt to go there was met with defeat as I chose to escape the insanity that was this year’s Chowderfest. On my second attempt, a burst pipe in the apartment above sadly forced them to stay closed for a week and a half, less than a month after their opening. However, I eventually made my way there for my first night of cocktails, and I was immediately hooked.
The ambiance is exactly what I’m looking for in a cocktail bar. It’s cozy without being overly crowded, but they do this in a unpretentious way. One of the Hamlet & Ghost staff waits at the door with a clipboard detailing available seats and helps keep guests that spill in from the bustling Caroline Street crowds to a minimum at any given time. There’s a level of detail in the decor and even some vintage aesthetic here without the theatrics of some of the other cocktail bars in the area.
I have no problem heading there solo for a quick bite, drink, and conversation with the always friendly bartending staff before moving on to other activities of the night. I’ve also spent plenty a night hunkering down and having a bunch of small plates and letting the the bar staff experiment with cocktails on my party for several hours. Hamlet & Ghost can easily do both.
Any night is a good night to stop by, but I tend to find myself there regularly on Monday or Wednesday nights during the week. On Mondays they have Industry Night, where specials like $6 Ghost Burgers and $6 revolving drink specials on daiquiris, coolers, and Pimm’s Cups reign supreme. On Wednesdays there’s a live band that’s never so loud a conversation can’t be had at the nearby bar, with the genre of the bands always changing to keep things fresh.
The hospitality has been nothing short of amazing from my very first visit onward. Staff is always attentive and willing to placate any weird cocktail creation I’ve seen recently or new drink trends we end up chatting about. Brendan is almost always present on my visits, and you can usually find him expediting, hopping behind the bar to make a quick cocktail or two, or hovering around the tables and bar making sure both regulars and new guests feel welcomed.
The food menu has gone through a few iterations, and it looks like recently they’ve expanded their regular menu to include some of the favorites from the specials. The bar nuts and candied bacon are my go to snacks. The aforementioned Ghost Burger (one burger on Industry Night, but two burgers come with the regular order) scratches that fast casual burger itch with some excellent hand cut fries and house made condiments on the side. Hamlet & Ghosts’ poke was one of the first times I’ve seen it in the area, and it is still one of the best renditions of the dish here. The Korean Tacos are not to be missed. If you’re looking for something off the regular menu, the kitchen is still churning out some new items you can always see handwritten on a large roll of brown paper that hangs from the wall next to the bar.
With Closing Day at Saratoga Race Course coming up on September 5th, I’m sure some of you are still planning to make your way there in the next few weeks, and I implore you to make Hamlet & Ghost one of your stops after the track. They are serving some of the best cocktails (get the Gin Gin Fizz!) in the area paired with some well executed and interesting dishes from their kitchen along with some impeccable service. It is truly my favorite restaurant to open up in this year and absolutely worth the visit.