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Time Machine to July '92

Raising the Bar

Date: Thursday, September 16, 2021

Take a journey to 1992, a heady year with change in the air.  The Winter and Summer Olympics loomed large, (it would be the last time both games were held in the same year), silicon valley giants were rolling out revolutionary technological changes as the 'world wide web' (aka the internet) prepared to go public, social unrest reached a new peak in the US, the cold war was officially declared over, the EU opened its horizons to the rest of the continent, pop artists were wearing clothes backwards, and US presidential power was about to change sides. Thus was the year that ushered in the Newport International Polo Series, bearing a striking resemblance to this 30th anniversary season.

Summer of '92: Raising the Bar

As opening day of the inaugural season of the Newport International Polo Series approached in July of 1992, utmost attention was directed to the details of hospitality and celebration.  Just as every polo practice concludes with a cold refreshment for thirsty horses and players, an amply stocked bar is de rigueur for a social throng attending a polo exhibition at cocktail hour, calling for a generous and well-selected apportionment of liquid refreshments to suit every pallet.

From its humble beginnings as nothing more than a pair of linen-covered banquet tables and a green & white pop up tent, to its current role as the center of life during and après polo, the fieldside Patio Bar turns 30 this year, in a memorable span of summer Saturday evenings at the polo grounds, where it has doled out an expertly selected menu of choice elixirs from boutique wines, craft & imported malt beverages, premium spirits and specialty cocktails to the delight of discerning patrons, and for the enthusiasm of celebrations with the players after a hard fought match.

Since opening day, international brands have recognized the opportunity to have a presence at the matches with sponsorship support that has been an integral part of the growth of the Polo Series, ebbing and flowing with the current of preferences over the years, from Sam Adams, Samuel Smith, and Guinness to today's Stella Artois, and champagne brands from Krug to Nicolas Feuillatte to Veuve Clicquot, and ultra premium spirits from Pimm's and Doorley's Rum, Jewel of Russia Vodka, Hendrick's Gin and Patrón to Gosling's Rum. Our 30th Anniversary season is marked by a permanent installation of Gosling's emblematic juggling seal in a custom weathervane spinning on top of the Patio Bar. 

Support from these iconic beverage brands fueled improvements to the bar and expansion of its offerings to over 50 unique selections on today's bar menu.  The handmade copper countertop installed in the third season still adorns the bar's 4-sided surfaces today, under which commercial refrigeration coolers eventually replaced ice chests, while plumbing and a fixed roof were improvements that led to the naming of the Twisted Pony, in the traditional nomenclature of an English pub, in the era that William Crisp was head umpire and transitional commentator, and his wife Lowie managed the Twisted Pony with a personable team of bar tenders that created unique cocktails and great ambiance, even a Twisted Pony t-shirt!  The return of the cocktail culture in the past decade has attracted renowned mixologist, The Cocktail Guru to create a seasonal menu of signature cocktails, and this year, for the 30th Anniversary, several frozen drinks have been added to the summertime lineup.

Après polo celebrations around the bar have also evolved over the past 3 decades with the same jovial spirit, camaraderie and core elements. Bon fires still cast their glow, from a custom-built monstrous iron cauldron.  Dinner feasts have diversified with notable chefs and caterers specializing in the cuisine of each international team. Davitt Design/Build laid the stonework for the expansive patio dance floor and resurfaced Patio Bar. A sound and DJ system and special lighting have enhanced the atmosphere for the international teams to display their dancing skills that have included Spanish flamenco, Scottish pole dancing, Kenyan warrior dances, English cauldron riding, Jamaican twerking, Moroccan belly dancing, Brazilian samba, Dominican salsa, Polish polka and Irish planking, to name a few!

The milestone age of 30 has long signified the transition to mature adulthood, and well worth celebrating in and of itself.  Therefore, we invite attendees to join us for the Goslings Players Hour at the Patio Bar this season with the international teams for a complimentary Dark 'n Stormy to toast our 30th Anniversary season.

Time Machine is a 30th Anniversary retrospective series of monthly chapters. We hope you enjoyed the trip in time exploring the Polo Series origins in the summer of 1992, our inaugural year and how legacies came together to create a lasting fundraising effort that set a new record in the 30h anniversary season.  To read additional Time Machine chapters published this year, visit Headlines.