Bills New Entry

Written By: William  Sokolin

Bill’s New Entry

By William Sokolin


Without looking around, I discover I have been in myHamptonshouse for close to 25 years.  I find that amazing (maybe).


Since my background is wine, I certainly will not tell you about the $519,000 bottle I took to aNew Yorkrestaurant onApril 23, 1989, one day before my birthday.  In those days I was interested in the great chefs ofFranceand imported wines under the names of Paul Bocuse, Les Freres Troisgros, Alain Chapelle and several others. These great chefs would come toNew   Yorkto promote their wines and prepare dinners and tastings for parties of about 100 people or so for $50 per person (remember that was in the 70’s).


Back to the $519,000 bottle.  It was Chateau Margaux 1787 with THOMAS JEFFERSON’s ThJ signature on the label (go prove it).  Well, I can tell you that night at The FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT with Bocuse, the guest chef, I broke that bottle, not on purpose, but it banged against a waiter’s cart and poof!, it was gone, kaput.  Next day I was told by my insurance company that it was not properly insured.  I protested! Finally, I had to tell that Company it (the accident)would appear in the New York Times the following week.  They immediately agreed to pay what they owed me.  Ah, the power of the press.


I have to tell you that I was naturally drawn to the great restaurants of the world.  That was in the 1980s.  There are a couple that should be included that are on theEast Endin theHamptonsright now.


There is one I like that started out in Watermill, then moved to a much better location inSag Harborcalled Muse.  Really terrific is how I describe Muse mainly because I do not know restaurant jargon.  Anyway, it is almost reaching the level of the great chefs in only a few years.  Another candidate for 3 starts isPierre’s in Bridgehampton which is owned by a charming Frenchman.  We had a terrific meal at the 1770 House inEasthampton.  Try it and ask to sit in the lovely garden.


I know there are many others including the Plaza Café inSouthampton.  First class and expensive.  For warm summer nights I like B. Smith’s place inSag Harbor…on the porch with great views.  I am certain there are many other restaurants in theHamptonsarea that I have just plain missed.  So, all of a sudden, I place myself alongside the late Craig Claiborne, ex restaurant critic of The New York Times.  Not really, but you know what I mean.


Oh, I missed Nick and Tony’s inEasthampton.  Years ago, when he was still alive, I took Craig to dinner there and it was particularly good.  Craig told me so.  I dropped his name when I made the reservation and got the best table at the last minute.


Dan’s Paper said I have to have at least 600 words, so I’ll continue.  WHO IS BILL SOKOLIN?  Went to Horace Mann in Riverdale where I excelled in sports.  Football, the quarterback was me.  Baseball, the shortstop was me.  As far as learning was concerned, I was in the bottom half of the class.


The big moment in my young life was when I signed with Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  I saw images of Hank Greenberg dancing around me.  The army took me from the Dodgers and I played baseball and basketball for thePetersburg,VAteam in 1951-1952 during the police action inKorea(it wasn’t officially a war).  “Look to the left of you, look to the right”, said the Captain on my arrival in thePetersburgbarracks. “One of you will be dead or injured within a year”.  So I went out for the baseball team the next day.  Good player in the wrong position, first base.  Chet Nichols (lowest ERA in the National League in 1949, I think) threw me a ball for a pick-off but I was charging a bunt and it went into the stands.  So much for first base.


When I got out of the service, I went into my family’s liquor business which I changed to only wine sales by 1959 after my father passed away. I wrote a few books, LIQUID ASSETS and THE COMPLETE WINE INVESTOR five years later.  I more or less invented the concept of wine investment in theBordeauxmarket by the mid 1960s.