Is it the breathtaking bay sunsets or the bearded one man band? The casual waterfront ambiance or the Floridian-inspired tropical drink menu? What keeps North Cape May locals and visitors alike coming back to hidden treasure hotspot Harpoon Henry’s? I, myself, have frequented the bar and restaurant for years but could not exact one answer to this question. Rather, I believe that my encounter with a member of the friendly staff that Ed and Theresa Henry have assembled perfectly embodies that Harpoon Henry’s “special something”.
As I walked up to the buzzing indoor bar, I was almost immediately greeted by the mustache-topped grin of bartender Richie. Indecisive, I asked him for a “Richie special”. Richie reached for his shaker and got to work. Just moments later he poured his specialty neatly into the martini glass set in front of me. Whiskey or rum? And did I detect a hint of lime…? All I knew for sure was that I wanted more. “It’s a SoCo Manhattan,” Richie explained. He had been a contestant in a “Drink for the season” bartenders’ contest at Congress Hall a few years earlier. Richie had brought his experience and taste expertise to the table and created this signature Manhattan. “It won first for taste,” stated Richie proudly. What’s his secret recipe? Southern Comfort, Triple Sec, and (as I had suspected) a twist of lime. Richie explained that the key to his specialty is to ensure that it is “shaken vigorously”. And Richie has definitely shaken his fair share of drinks. He’s been in the bartending business for a total of 45 years and has served Harpoon Henry’s patrons for 9. Beyond his delicious cocktails, Richie also serves up unique entertainment from behind the bar. “See this coaster? Watch it, watch it…Now where is it?” Richie actually made a coaster disappear before my very eyes. If his bartending gig doesn’t work out, Richie definitely has a shot in the world of magic. Stop by Harpoon Henry’s at sunset for a view, a “Richie” special, and a show from our favorite Cape May County amateur magician.
By Megan Kummer