Westchester's Happiest Hours
Where to seek refuge from the 9-to-5 rut starting at...5:01
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You Want to Watch the Game (Any Game!)
Bob Hyland’s Sports Page Pub
Get Happy: There’s something about the camaraderie (and loud shouting) of a sports bar, despite the fact that you may have your own high-def TV at home, that makes Happy Hour so—pardon the business phrase—“actionable.”
The Sports Page is a hard-core sports fanatics' paradise—a great place to hang with like-minded colleagues and tune in to one of the 50 TVs showing a host of games, everything from pro sports to women’s basketball to big-time college games and even high-school events, especially if they are local. Add to that a Nintendo Wii system, complimentary appetizers, and one-dollar off drinks Monday to Friday from 4:30 to 7 pm, and you’ve got yourself a nice little setup where owner Bob Hyland likes to say, “We’re happy all the time.” It’s like going to a game without the expense.
Bonus points for the nice spread of chicken fingers, wedges, wings, crudités, and the hot dog or taco bar where you can help yourself to a bunch of fixins’ while chatting about a championship. The other bonus: they’ll validate parking for anyone with a check over $20. Game on!
Drink Up: 200 Hamilton Ave, White Plains (914) 437-8721; sportspagepub.com.
You’re a Beer Lover
Get Happy: It’s impossible to list all of the impressive specials of this playful, low-key brewpub where Brewmaster Neill Acer concocts an assortment of frosty seasonable suds. One night might include specialty brews such as Old Wagon Ale aged in Tuthillton Rye Barrels. “Hoppy” Hour (get it?) is Monday to Friday 3:30 to 6:30 pm and includes a choice of 16 draught and about 40 bottle beers (mostly specialty selections), as well as at the core brands brewed on the premises—Paramount Pale Ale, Hop Common, Old Wagon, and Vanilla Bourbon Stout. Talk about fresh—and persuasive. Hoppy Hour—ya gotta love that name—also includes $5 pub snacks and $2 off pints, as well as $2 off all wines-by-the-glass (it has a 20-or-so-bottle list, all carefully hand-selected so wine lovers and beer lovers can mix and mingle). As a way to get you in a better Monday frame of mind, there’s even a Sunday night Hoppy Hour from 9 pm to closing (about 1 am) Also worth noting: The food is prepared to match your beer choices—just another thing to drink to.
Drink Up: 55 Hudson Ave, Peekskill (914) 734-2337; thepeekskillbrewery.com.
You Want Free Bar Food
Get Happy: Nine-to-fivers crowd the bar here to loosen their ties and unwind before digging into a scrumptious buffet of wings, nachos, potato skins, shepherd’s pie, and quiche. It’s a rotating menu picked from the kitchen but there’s always enough to feed hungry suits who are often so busy they skip lunch. The buffet is offered every Thursday and Fridays from 4 to 7 pm, as well as on days when there’s a big game on TV. There's karaoke every Wednesday night starting at 10 pm, often led by Nick Moustakas, a virtual legend in Westchester with a huge following and a whole lotta tunes. Even if you don’t stay until the music starts, you’ll enjoy the convivial feeling of this standard, no-frills Irish bar with its electric fireplace, cozy side booths, and plenty of open space for mingling.
Drink Up: 60 Kraft Ave, Bronxville (914) 337-1122; jcfogartys.com.
You’re in a Mad Men State of Mind
Benjamin Steak House
Get Happy: Few experiences compare to the pleasure of sitting at a bar surrounded by the aromas of thick, juicy steaks as you sip your way through a cavernous glass of red wine. Benjamin Steak House, in the space formerly occupied by Mighty Joe Young’s, is the kind of place you could easily envision Don Draper of TV's Mad Men. The dark wood floors, the banquette seating, the burgundy booths, the chocolate leather chairs—it’s here among the accoutrements of a classic steakhouse that you can experience the simple, straightforward pleasure of a crisp Pinot or a buttery Chardonnay (the wine list reads like a long book). There is also a list of original cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan Martini (Absolut Citron, Cointreau orange, cranberry juice, dash of lime juice) or a Yellow Cab (Navan vanilla cognac, pineapple juice, Cointreau). Come spring, there’s a patio area outside, though, frankly, I prefer the bar, where a glass-walled wine cellar practically envelops you, encouraging you to order another glass.
Drink Up: 610 W Hartsdale Ave, White Plains (914) 428-6868; benjaminsteakhouse.com.
You Want to Enjoy (and Drink to!) the Great Outdoors
Red Hat on the River
Get Happy: Who says you can’t have it all? At Red Hat, you’ve got delicious food, a great bar, and a gorgeous view. Enjoy the sunset from atop the restaurant’s rooftop venue where you can loosen up with the house-made Summer Sangria—a mix of strawberry purée, Cointreau, vodka, fresh juices, and red wine—and enjoy the sprawling Hudson below (if it’s a clear night, you can see Manhattan). Other drink specials include The Redhattan (Rye One Whiskey, Vya Sweet Vermouth, Angostura bitters, Tipsy Cherry) and Hendricks & Cucumber, a smooth and perfumed Scottish gin (at least according to my husband) with fresh cucumber slices.
There’s no food up here—but who cares when there are comfy cushions to sink down into and the warmth of the New York sun on your face? It feels like the Hamptons, minus the long drive. Granted, there’s not much wiggle room once the area gets crowded, but downstairs sits yet another welcoming bar where open windows give you a bird’s-eye view of the water. Seriously, is this the life or what?
Drink Up: 1 Bridge St, Irvington (914) 591-5888; redhatbistro.com.
You Want to Let Your Hair Down (or You Want to Show Off Your Inner American Idol)
Wicked Wolf Tavern
Get Happy: It doesn’t get much better than your own drink special (more about that in a second) and a night of karaoke with your friends. And that’s just Monday nights! At "The Wolf" where the “W” practically stands for “Wild and Wacky,” there’s always something going on, thanks to its ongoing Happy Hour. From Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 pm, enjoy $3 draught beers, $3 well drinks, $4 martinis, and $5 appetizers. Plus, if you call ahead and are coming with a group of 10 or more, you can create your own discounted drink special—just contact Jesseca at (914) 428-3144 or JCarroll@BlackBearWP.com beforehand. If you want to flaunt your inner American Idol talents, bring your gear and join the Tuesday-night jam sessions with open mic. The music starts at 9 pm, when host Dan “Chopper” Carillo brings in a house band of new musicians every week. And the list goes on with “Wine Night” Wednesdays, when, for $20 per person, you get unlimited wine from 7 to 9 pm.
Drink Up: 166 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 428-3144; wickedwolfwp.com.
You Crave a Good Margarita (or You Want to Schmooze and Network with other Suits)
Get Happy: The wide space and long bar make Happy Hour at the Hudson Grille—where premium drinks are $5 Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 pm—the ideal spot to unwind after work. Come warm weather, we also love the large back patio complete with twinkling lights. Yes, it’s a bit of a scene—but in a mature business crowd way as opposed to the other bars that line Mamaroneck Avenue and tend to draw a rowdier crowd. Plus the drinks are superb and inventive. A Mangotini made with mango purée, Absolut mango vodka, Cointreau, and garnished with a floating mint leaf is just one thirst-quencher of choice. Also high on the list: the Skinny Girl Margarita (Patron Silver, club soda, fresh lime juice); the Lush (Stolichnaya blueberry and Stolichnaya raspberry vodkas, Chambord, peach schnapps, Champagne, and fresh blueberries); and the Anti-Oxidant Cosmo (Absolut berry acai, pomegranate liquor, Triple Sec, lime juice, splash of sour mix with fresh blueberries). All of these drinks are regularly $11, but are offered at more than half off come 4 pm.
The crunchy, sea-salt-seasoned bread sticks that sit inside wrapped paper within a glass on the bar help keep your hunger at bay, though you might be tempted to order some bar food, which is just as creative as the drinks. Think filet mignon kabobs, spinach and artichoke dip with pretzel croutons, and mini inside-out burgers with smoked bacon and cheddar, among other offerings. The restaurant also features a long list of interesting draught and bottled beers (e.g., Negra Modelo, Dog Fish, Goose Island, Shock Top, and Captain Lawrence) along with more than 40 wines-by-the-glass. Come Sunday, select bottles of wine are 50 percent off, giving you yet another reason to “get happy.”
Drink Up: 165 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 997-2000; hudsongrilleny.com.
You Want to Avoid Rush Hour:
Near the Saw Mill
Get Happy: The kid in you might want to try the locally brewed tap root beer or the authentic egg creams, but this casual spot, known for its awesome deals (i.e., all you can eat mussels on Mondays nights for $14.95 per person and all you can eat pasta on Wednesdays for $12.95), also is known for its inventive drinks and sense of fun. After all, the bar’s motto is “Where You Can Come for Drafts & Laughs.”
So, if you’re in a “sweet” mood, try the “Dr. Pumpernickel,” the house made root beer exclusively brewed by Captain Lawrence, blended with vanilla vodka, Crème de Cacao, and cherry flavoring. Also popular: the Tuscan Creamsicle (orange vodka, biscotti liqueur, fresh orange juice topped with half and half), and the house cocktail Pumpernickel Punch (“You’re here so you have to try it,” reads the menu). Smiling waitstaff will also sway you to be daring and try something new (they swear their “P3, Pumpernickel’s Perfect Patron Margarita" will knock your socks off). And isn’t that what Happy Hour is about? Having a good time. Relaxing. Forgetting the crazy day you had. There’s also a long list of creative martinis and cosmos including my favorite, the “Margatini” (think a margarita minus the useless ice and sour mix and more liquor), specialty frozen drinks (try the “Frozen Slides”) and a nice variety of wines and beers. All in all, a nice way to end the work day without taking you so far off the beaten track that you can’t make it home in time for dinner. Though be forewarned: you’ll want to stay, or at least make a date to come back again soon.
Drink Up: 925 Saw Mill River Rd, Ardsley (914) 479-5370; pumpernickelrestaurantardsley.com.
Emma’s Ale House
Get Happy: The world would be a better place if every neighborhood had a laid-back hangout like this. This cozy tavern with its warm wood floors, dark trim, and dog theme (it’s named for owner Casey Egan’s yellow Lab Emma) is a Happy-Hour goer’s dream with a well selected, rotating menu of 10 draught beers (including selections from local fave Captain Lawrence), friendly servers, and pub grub that goes fork to fork with the best of them. Its motto: “Every dog has its day” also confirms what you already know: that work can be well…work, and that unwinding with colleagues who understand cubicle life makes the routine a lot easier.
Emma’s is basically a grown-up bar for those who enjoy the ambiance of a tavern but prefer a decibel-level they can hear at. The bar is roomy and there are inviting high-top tables should you want to have a “nosh.” Go for the homemade Gedney potato chips or salty pretzel sticks that come with hot mustard—they go well with a cool pint. There are also a variety of sliders (meatball parm, cheeseburger, filet mignon, and BBQ pulled pork) and other ale house fare should your group be in the snacking mood. Even nicer: there’s easy parking here—at the municipal lot across the street or along Gedney Way—allowing you plenty of time to hit 287 or the Hutch and be home in time to tuck the kids in bed.
Drink Up: 68 Gedney Way, White Plains (914) 683-EMMA; emmasalehouse.com.
Rye Grill & Bar
Get Happy: This well-located grill, just steps from the Rye train station and with easy access to I-95, has an appeal that’s homey and welcoming. Always a popular neighborhood watering hole, its significant renovations from a few years ago have turned what once felt like a small Colonial house into more of a historic hotel-ish experience where, if you didn’t see the just-painted molding, it would feel like George Washington slept upstairs after a night of good food and drink.
The place has been transformed into a cavernous two-story restaurant with lots of comfortable options for catching up with your work mates. There’s a (quieter) bar upstairs where a sofa to the right entices you to sit and gab, as if you were at a friend’s house, though there are also plenty of stools at the bar. It’s also fun from this height to look down and people-watch below.
The main bar on the first floor has its own personality with private booths in dark corners where you can guesstimate about a colleague’s recent antics or choose to sit by the crackling fireplace. There’s also plenty of communal areas where you can rub elbows with that cute guy in accounting you’ve always wondered about but never chatted with (now’s your chance, girlfriend!). Like an affluent pal who’s known you forever, the restaurant aims to please with a long list of bottled and draught beers (think Brooklyn Seasonal, Stella Artois, Blue Moon, and Captain Lawrence to Bud, Amstel, O’Doul’s, and more), mixed drinks, and wines-by-the-glass or bottle. The food is all-American and goes down easy.
Drink Up: 1 Station Plz, Rye (914) 967-0332; ryegrill.com.
Near the Taconic
Get Happy: If you’re a wine lover, you’ll enjoy this handsome newcomer, which offers 24 wines by the glass, including half glasses (a 2.5 ounce pour) or full glass (5 ounces), making it easy to try several offerings, many of which hail from California. There are other drink selections of course, but it’s more fun to indulge in the kind of vintages that normally might be too expensive to try on a small scale. The bar isn’t large—there are only seven seats—but its dark setting makes for a calming after-hour presence ideal for quiet conversation. The whole place is meant to be intimate and charming with an interior that woos. Dare we risk the pun and say, it's worth making “thyme” to stop here on your way from the office?
Drink Up: 3605 Crompond Rd, Yorktown Heights (914) 788-8700; thymerestaurant.net.
Larchmont writer Jeanne Muchnick, whose work has appeared in numerous national and local publications, admits she’s a lightweight who always orders food before booze.
Captions: Ron Blacks 60-foot-long bar accomodates many.
Harper's brings a retro vibe to Dobbs Ferry.
JC Fogarty's has been a mainstay on the Bronxville bar scene since 1999.
Relive your childhood (or at least your childhood sweet tooth) at Ardsley's popular Pumpernickel.