Westchester’s Top Trivia Night Destinations
Where to go to prove all those hours watching Nick at Night reruns were worthwhile (’70s sitcom category, anyone?)
We’re not saying you need an excuse to enjoy a drink, or three (we don’t judge), during these dog days of summer. But it helps to have a reason to not drive straight home after work, especially if that reason is to show off all the knowledge your college degree afforded you (or didn’t; you’ll know after a round or two). So, as the two folks on staff whose job it is to tell people they’re wrong (we are the fact-checkers after all), we decided to test our knowledge and find you the most fun, sometimes offbeat, trivia nights Westchester bars (and a coffee house) have to offer.
Peekskill Coffee House
Mondays, 6 pm, Peekskill
Trivia night held anywhere without a bar might sound a bit off to you, like an Italian meal without carbs, or Top Gun without Tom Cruise. At least that’s how we felt walking into the Peekskill Coffee House for trivia night, ordering cappuccinos instead of the usual beer or cocktail that so reliably greases those rusty knowledge gears.
So you can imagine how surprised we were to find ourselves thoroughly enjoying what hosts Chris Torres and Nick Davanzo call “Two Plus One Trivia,” both because the questions were quirky and offbeat (as were Chris and Nick) and because the atmosphere was friendly and easy-going.
We started out strong here, scoring high marks in the first couple of rounds before falling hard and fast. Easy questions at the beginning gave us a false sense of confidence: “What color is the grass in Brussels?” (green) and “What was the name of the duck in Howard the Duck?” (Howard). The questions with less obvious answers—relating to, for example, the ingredients in Pepsi, congressional districts in California, and obscure movie facts—took us down.
So we didn’t win the $10 gift card that comes with victory, but we did find the best mix of questions asked by the most entertaining hosts, not to mention good coffee.
Thornwood Ale House
Mondays, 9 pm, Thornwood
What happens when editors attempt to spell misspell? They “mispell” it. Such was the case recently at Thornwood Ale House’s trivia night. When we first arrived, the bare-bones bar was sparsely populated with some just-off-the-diamond softball players enjoying a game of flip cup, and we thought we had a clear shot at winning the night, which would have afforded us a free appetizer at the next week’s trivia night.
But as soon as the host got on the mic, people came out of the woodwork, and suddenly there were 10 teams (some teams of two, a few teams of six). The game was broken into five rounds of 10 questions, and started off with a pretty easy round of pop-culture questions (“What movie won the Academy Award for Best Film in 2014?”; “Which celebrity couple just married in France?”). Then came the aforementioned spelling round, which made us editors thankful we live in the age of spellcheck. (We’re “embarassed” to admit we “mispelled” one too many words.) After a round of ’90s music (name that tune), TV geography (where certain shows took place), and a name-that-company-logo round, though, we were firmly in the lead. But then, the host sprung a bonus sports round on us. Not so bad, you might think. But they were some of the most specific questions we’d heard, like “Who played the most games at shortstop for the 1986 Mets?” We only managed a meager three points from the round, and watched as the free appetizer slipped from our hands to a team with a name not fit to print.
Tuesdays, 7:30 pm, White Plains
If you could judge a trivia team by the X-ratedness of its name, we were in a hole from the get-go. Going with Robert’s Angels (a nod to our editor, Robert Schork), we were up against 10 or so teams with varying degrees of smutty names in a 15-question game of trivia. The theme that week (there’s a different one every week) was “After Dark.”
The game worked as follows: The host would read a question, assign a point total (ranging from 300 to 1,000, depending on the level of difficulty), and the teams would have the length of a song to answer the question. (Don’t assume the songs hint at the answer; we took that bait and failed epically.) A good portion of the questions—too many of them in our opinion—were of the know-it-or-you-don’t variety, such as “How old is Stephen Colbert?” We preferred the reason-them-out questions, like “In which season did the characters on Beverly Hills 90210 open the Peach Pit After Dark?” for which, as long as you knew the show, you had a chance to figure out the correct answer (which we sadly did not).
The host kept it interesting, introducing a few wager questions (for which you could wager up to 1,000 points, even if you only had 300), allowing even the bottom-dwellers like us a chance at glory—or, in this case, $100. And, with a number of teams competing, the atmosphere was fun, which made up for the general lack of questions.
Growlers Beer Bistro
Tuesdays, 7:30 pm, Tuckahoe
The biggest reason to go to Growlers is its beer. But should you find yourself thirsting for knowledge along with that beer, Growlers is where you need to park your caboose.
Upon arriving at the suggested time of 8 pm, we realized we’d missed the first two questions of the first round. And in a game of three rounds with three questions each, that’s a good chunk of the game. We tried listening to the enthusiastic yet unintelligible host for cues of what we should be doing, but it took a trip up front to ask him how the game worked, which goes like this: After the host asks a question, you write your answer on a sheet of paper, along with your wager; you can wager three, six, or nine points per question, and can use each wager only once each round. Questions ran the gamut from “What recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was also nominated for an Oscar for a documentary?” to a business-related question about Unilever. Be on your toes for the “tryst rounds,” in which you can consult with other teams on what the answer might be. During one such round (there were two), the question was: “Name the five top rice exporters beside China.” A couple of seemingly fine gents made their way over to us, and talked us into answering the Unites States, because, duh, Uncle Ben’s rice is from the South (nowhere even close to North America was one of the five). We crashed and burned miserably; they ended up winning and securing the $100 gift card up for grabs.
Though the night had a modestly decent turnout, there didn’t seem to be too many teams to make it super-competitive. And the small number of questions (only 14 in all) led to us losing focus on the game.
Wednesdays, 8 pm, Peekskill
If you read our Bar Bible back in January, you know we’re fans of Gleason’s, or, as we called it, the “bar at which you should be drinking, but aren’t yet.” We wish we could say it’s the bar at which you should be firing neurons to retrieve deep-in-the-brain pop-culture references but aren’t, but the trivia here was slightly disappointing. Plus, with a Manhattan as good as the one they serve here, you’re likely to leave Gleason’s with a diminished neuron count.
The turnout was, well, low, and as opposed to the typical emcee-on-the-mic, huddle-and-scribble-an-answer style we’re accustomed to, the game took the form of a packet with 50 questions. At first we balked at the format, and a few members of our party gave us the stink eye for having dragged them to Peekskill “for this” (heaven forbid they journey north of I-287, and let’s not forget that a prize was at stake—a $25 gift card). Then again, to their credit, the theme was fruits and veggies.
But once we made a dent in the packet, everyone acquiesced. Over the course of a couple hours, we oscillated between workplace gossip and answering the questions, which we warmed up to, thanks to the way they handily (although too easily in many cases) incorporated the theme. Answers like Tim Cook, Fiona Apple, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Smashing Pumpkins were scribbled into blank spaces (we’ll let you figure out why), meatball and mushroom pizzas found their way into our stomachs, and the rye from our Manhattans creeped steadily into our blood streams. By the time our digital editor was battling a winner-take-all tiebreaker on a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots toy—yes, this is how a tie-breaker is waged—we were having too good a time to care that his robot’s head was the first to pop up.