Westchester's Happiest Hours
Where to seek refuge from the 9-to-5 rut starting at...5:01
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Photography by Andre Baranowski
Sometimes after a long day at work—or even a regular day—all you want to do is relax with a cold Chardonnay or a strong Long Island Iced Tea and forget about Excel spreadsheets, marketing strategies, and the latest office politics. Which is where Happy Hour pours into your life, straight up, extra dry with a twist. Add your fellow cubicle dwellers, a spirited vibe, some drink specials, and it’s practically a party…or at least a nice break until you have to go home and deal with the kids/laundry/bills (choose one or more of the above).
Whether you’re looking for an extra-dry martini, a frosty mug of beer, or some simple munchies to tide you over until dinner, Westchester has an assortment of Happy Hours for every kind of business scenario. After all, what better way to get over hump day or jump-start your weekend than to round up your colleagues, hit a neighborhood bar, and soak up the atmosphere? (Just remember to always drink responsibly; I’m a mom, so I can’t help inserting that.) Here, our list of notable hangouts for sitting, sipping, and schmoozing.
You Want to Jump-Start Your Weekend
Get Happy: You’ll always find space to order a drink at Ron Blacks—a plus when you’re in a workday slump and don’t feel like raising your voice to be heard. The long—60 feet—bar in the main area gives you lots of options for standing, mingling, and working the room. It also features 12 TVs and a projector so you can tune out your co-workers if they're really boring and catch the latest scores. The tavern can be loud, and it’s always hopping—come warm weather, there’s a sizeable patio in the back as well as sidewalk seating. But perhaps its biggest claim to fame—and why many twenty- and thirtysomethings flock here—are its recessionary prices, which leave money in your wallet, even after payday. Happy Hour is every Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 pm, and features $4 draught beers and margaritas; $2 sliders, tacos, and waffle fries; and wings for just $4 an order. The pub also boasts 40 draught beers from around the globe as well as fun “tinis” made with Cachaça rum. Plus, how can you not love a place that serves beer burger with cheddar-ale dip? The fact that the interior is dark, moody, and very Irish ups its character and charm.
Drink Up: 181 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 358-5811; ronblacks.com.
You Want a Manhattan Experience Without Schlepping to the City
Fig & Olive
Get Happy: Sidle up to the sleek bar where you can watch the chefs slice up a variety of crostini (you need something to soak up the alcohol, right?) or sit at the long, communal table to the left of the bar and celebrate the end of a long day (or week) with a medium-bodied Chardonnay. The selection of wines is broken up into forward fruit, medium body, full body, rosés, and sparkling wines to make your decision easier, though the inventive list of cocktails tempts.
On a diet? There’s the low-cal mojito with rum, Splenda, simple syrup, freshly muddled fruit of the day, mint, and soda; or the cucumber cosmo, mixed with vodka, orange liqueur, muddled cucumber, and fresh lime juice. Or toast your career success with fresh red sangria.
At Fig & Olive, which has three locations in the city, a lot of thought has gone into everything, right down to the assortment of olive oils on your table for dipping, making you feel a bit like a movie star (or at least a movie extra) in the glow of a perfectly lit restaurant. There are wicker lounge chairs in the front of the bar area where you can whisper about your co-workers in hushed tones while munching from a bowl of plump olives. This three-month-old eatery perfectly captures the spirit of Manhattan living with a “beautiful people” mood and that all-important suburban bonus: plenty of parking.
Drink Up: 696 Post Rd, Scarsdale (914) 725-2900; figandolive.com.
You Want to Go Someplace New
Harper’s on Main
Get Happy: Say hello to the little black dress of Dobbs Ferry, a still-relatively unknown restaurant and bar that manages to look chic without showing off. The space—in what formerly was Mimosa Restaurant—has been totally renovated with the spirit of the executive chef’s great aunt, Rose Harper.
Harper, who recently passed away at the ripe young age of 98, apparently was a colorful character who drank at least two glasses of Scotch every day and had a collection of shoes that numbered in the thousands (We’ll drink to that!). The fact that little snippets of her life are included in the food and drink menu add a speakeasy ambience that makes you feel like the nonagenarian party-girl is right there with you, egging you to try one of her throwback-inspirited spirits. Be adventurous and try The Charity Case (Courvoisier cognac, Navan vanilla liqueur, maraschino cherry liqueur, house-made maraschino cherry); The First Love (Chivas Regal, 12-year-old blended Scotch, honey syrup, and rosewater); or the Lost in Translation (Crop Harvest organic artisanal vodka, orange essence, cardamom, sugar syrup, Champagne float). Come spring, the outdoor deck will be open.
Drink Up: 92 Main St, Dobbs Ferry (914) 693-2306; harpersonmain.com.
To Celebrate a Promotion
Get Happy: There’s a spirited, lively vibe at this seven-month-old space where a striking poured-concrete bar, wood-weathered décor, and just the right illumination (dim but moody) tempt you to imbibe—and celebrate your success. There’s tons of room for large groups to maneuver—this space was formerly an old car dealership and has the high ceilings to prove it—meaning you can invite the whole office—and not sweat it if everyone decides to come. The restaurant, in fact, feels like an old friend who practically envelops you in its huge eat-in bar area with a giant bear hug.
A cabinet of spirits and beverages glimmer against a mirrored back wall where the restaurant’s motto hangs: “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time.” On a warm day, you can sit outside, though, frankly, inside is where the action is. The airy space is designed for chatting, while the variety of craft beers and standard bar fare (think fat potato “cigars” with truffle oil, fried calamari, and tempting wood-fired pizzas) will no doubt entice you to order a second round. Hey, you got a promotion—didn’t you know you’re buying?
Drink Up: 251 E Main St, Mount Kisco (914) 864-1255; villagesocialkb.com.
It’s Someone’s Birthday
Get Happy: BlackBerry, Smackberry. At bartaco, it’s all about getting in a beach frame of mind, imagining you’re at a Mexican taqueria where the sun is always shining and the reception for your electronic devices is null and void. In other words, par-TAY!
And if you’re the birthday girl or guy, all the better. For one, it’s relatively inexpensive here so your colleagues (even the ones that felt they “had” to come) won’t mind chipping in on your behalf.
The other: the three-month-old space has an undeniable energy that instantly puts you in a good mood (the made-from-scratch margaritas help). If you didn’t come right from work, in fact, you’d want to put on shorts and flip-flops and imagine—at least for the hour or so that you’re here—that you are far, far away. That’s because the room has a resorty feel with crisp blues and whites accented by wood paneling and hanging basket-weave light fixtures, oscillating ceiling fans and two bars: one outside on the deck, which overlooks the river and features two fire pits, and one inside.
Drinks are the real deal here, and boast state-of-the-art juicers to ensure freshly-squeezed juice in all of the cocktails. Even more impressive: the 25-plus tequilas to choose from (imported beer is also big) as well as 11 sizeable tacos that meet the needs of every carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore (they are $2.50 each, or you can order three for $7). And, since it’s your birthday, why not toast everyone’s health with Mama’s Lil Yellow Pils bottled cerveza (beer) or the Old Thymer (Boullet bourbon plus Carpano Antica vermouth with thyme, lemon, and orange). Salud!
Drink Up: 1 Willett Ave, Port Chester (914) 937-TACO; bartaco.com.
You Want to Share Office Gossip
Get Happy: If the bowl of Goldfish on the bar dosen’t take you out of your work funk, what will? This beloved childhood snack actually works well paired with one of the many drink specials including cosmos, draught beers, and wines—all of which are priced at a very “happy” price of $4 for cosmos and mixed drinks, $3 for draught beers, $4 for white wine, and $4 for red, Thursdays to Sundays 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
Other interesting drinks include the Black Cherry Cosmo (black cherry vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice, lime garnish); the Peach Mojio-tini (peach rum, fresh mint, lime juice, sugar, splash of club soda, sugar rim garnish); or Grapetini (Ciroc grape distilled vodka, Champagne, white grape juice, grape garnish). Despite the fact that this restaurant is housed in a former speakeasy and reeks of history, it’s modern and light inside with neon blue lights at the bottom of the bar for a bottom-of-the-ocean look (sounds weird but, trust me, it’s funky and works well with the décor). There’s also a large aquarium filled with fish (a fun conversation piece) that hangs in the dining room but in view of the bar.
Because the restaurant is a bit off the beaten path (on a quiet residential street) and tends to draw an older clientele, it’s perfect for quiet conversation when you have some work gripes to get off your chest. It’s also ideal for sports fans who want “in the know” information, as “Mr. Tommy Dee,” the bartender, is an undercover sports expert and social media guru who writes for SNY.TV (the Mets network). He also has a blog called theknicksblog.com with tens of thousands of followers. So if you want to know where a player is going or how much he is going to get paid before it happens, stop by and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get the scoop.
Drink Up: 6 Rockledge Ave, Ossining (914) 762-0051; goldfishdining.com.
You Might Want to Stay for Dinner
Get Happy: Arrosto is all about being social and mingling, which is why coming for a drink here—and possibly staying for dinner—is so enjoyable. For one, there’s the casually elegant atmosphere—an urban-chic vibe with high tables in the bar area; booths and low tables in the main dining area. The centerpiece of the restaurant is the open kitchen area where you can sit around the counter and watch the action while sipping on a house-made concoction. The mixed drinks have a polished flair that feels like something the Sex and the City girls would order. Among the selections: Pom Collins (gin with pomegranate liqueur, lemon juice, and club soda); the Frizzante Mojito (aged rum, fresh lime, mint, and Prosecco); and the very refreshing/perfect-for-spring Negroni Arrosto (a creative twist on the original with Prosecco, Antico Carpano, and Aperol); as well as nicely selected wine and beer list. Happy Hour is Monday to Thursday 5 to 7 pm with half price wine/draught beer-by-the-glass. “Try a little. Try a lot,ˮ teases the menu. After an hour of hanging with the work-folk, order up the “Arrosti” dishes served family-style, including meat and fish roasts, or select one of the gourmet pizza options served fresh from the restaurant’s centrally located wood-burning oven.
Drink Up: 25 S Regent St, Port Chester (914) 939-2727; arrostorestaurant.com.
You Need to Zone Out
Get Happy: Once you see the calming waterfall behind the bar, you can’t help zoning in on its tranquility. The Happy Hour spoils you further with its extensive list of take-you-back-to-your-childhood drinks with Peanut Butter Cup (Godiva dark, Castries, Grey Goose with a peanut-butter-cup rim); Bazooka Joe (Blue Curacao, Baileys, and Crème de Banana); and Fruity Pebbles (Bacardi Dragonberry, OJ, strawberry purée, cream, and Grenadine). All are good conversation starters if you’ve come with new co-workers and need an icebreaker (though the waterfall helps). Happy Hour is held every Monday to Friday 3 to 7 pm with reduced priced drinks (usually $3 or $4 for beer, $5 for wine and other house drinks). If you’re in the mood for music, come on a Thursday night at 7, when acoustic rock duo Bob & Norm perform hits of decades from the ‘60s to today. There are also four large TVs scattered throughout the bar area (complete with two lounge areas, comfy sofas, and pub tables) to catch up on with your sports team.
Drink Up: 19 Main St, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-1147; rainwatergrill.com.