Aiken isn’t just a great place to ride. It’s also great place for horsemen to network and socialize: everyone who is in the area is bound to come downtown for dinner or a drink, at least once in a while. When they do, they’re pretty likely to run into other horse people. People looking for work as riders or grooms often say they have the best luck getting hired just by going to the Polo Bar at the Hotel Aiken and talking to people.
This winter, there are a few new additions to the scene. One is a new cocktail hour on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at The Willcox, one of Aiken’s stateliest and most historic hotels. The Willcox’s manager, Tina McCarthy, a horsewoman, is married to Dan McCarthy of Farmer Road Polo, the premier green horse training facility for polo in the area. With the McCarthys’s equestrian connections, it is little wonder that the cocktail hour is frequented by horse people of all disciplines. Of course, it also helps that numerous visiting horse people choose The Willcox as their residence during their sojourns in the city.
The other new addition is a welcome one for horsemen on the East side of town. New Bridge Polo Club has opened the New Bridge Café, serving breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The chef is from Argentina and the menu is North American with a South American flair. For instance, for lunch, you could order a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Or you could have the Milanesa (crisply fried breaded beef) lunch plate. Either way, prices are quite reasonable and the atmosphere is laid back, elegant and understated.