Ridgefield museum wraps up another round of virtual 'Tavern Tastings'

Keeler Tavern Museum's chief curator Catherine Prescott shows a specialty drink enjoyed at Timothy Keeler's tavern in the 18th century during a virtual "Tavern Tastings" program on April 6, 2021.

Keeler Tavern Museum's chief curator Catherine Prescott shows a specialty drink enjoyed at Timothy Keeler's tavern in the 18th century during a virtual "Tavern Tastings" program on April 6, 2021.

Contributed photo / Keeler Tavern Museum

RIDGEFIELD — The Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center wrapped up another round of virtual “Tavern Tastings,” a free program born out of the COVID-19 pandemic intended to keep patrons engaged with the museum from a distance.

Whereas the tastings would usually happen after people stumbled into Timothy’s Taproom on Main Street during the 18th century, the museum has transformed the historic activity into an online experience, according to executive director Hilde Grob.

“To this date we still get people calling trying to make a reservation at the tavern and we politely explain that as a museum, we are no longer an operating tavern,” she said. “We thought it would be fun to do a tavern tasting, sort of bring[ing] people back to the way it must have been while Timothy Keeler was running his tavern here.”

Grob said approximately 95 people from all over the country registered for this week’s tasting, which was the last in a series of six installments. Each participant received a recipe to concoct their very own pint of “flip,” a beer that was often served at the tavern back in the 18th century. The drink is an old recipe that calls for a blend of ale, rum, eggs and nutmeg.

“It’s not something they see in their everyday life,” said Catherine Prescott, the museum’s chief curator.

The attendees mixed their drinks at home and conversed about 18th-century life with a special guest speaker, Prescott added.

“This has been a great way for us to engage with not only our regular supporters, (but) we’ve (also) been able to reach out to new people and involve supporters who are not local,” she said.

The museum launched “Tavern Tastings” last year to pivot away from in-person demonstrations because of the pandemic. The tastings are an extension of a special collaborative exhibit with the Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York called “Hands on History,” which presented a variety of foods and beverages with a historical lens.

The Keeler Tavern was originally established in 1772, but was later converted into a museum in 1965 and deemed a historical site.

Grob said the museum will offer another series of virtual tastings in the late summer or early fall. “With virtual programming, we have really built our audience beyond a geographic reach and now it really doesn’t matter where you are,” she said, “you can Zoom in and participate.”