Best of Westchester 2011: Nightlife
Where barflies, night owls, cocktail connoisseurs can all grab a drink.
New Bar Scene
Village Social Kitchen & Bar
Mount Kisco | 914.864.1255 | villagesocialkb.com
photo by Phil Mansfield
The buzz about Village Social is for real. Just try and get a Saturday night reservation. But no worries: the bar action is where it’s at, and, honestly, where we’re happiest. It’s about time Northern Westchester had a place with a pulsating vibe where the energy is electric. The former Woody’s (and before that, Luna’s) has been reincarnated into an artsy, urbane setting with a striking poured-concrete bar, wood-weathered décor, and just the right illumination (dim but moody), making for a casually jazzed-up ambience. 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.” Indeed, the airy space is designed for chatting (hello, girls’ nights!), while the variety of craft beers and standard bar fare (think tune tartare with pink-peppercorn vinaigrette, fried calamari, and tempting wood-fired pizzas) entice you to stay long into the night.
Sports Fan’s Bartender
Tommy Dee at
The Goldfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Ossining | 914.762.0051 | goldfishdining.com
photo by Phil Mansfield
Wanna know who’s going to be traded off the Knicks? How about what a Mets pitcher’s injury really means for the season? If so, Tommy Dee, a bartender at the Goldfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Ossining, is the man to ask. The 35-year-old Hawthorne resident shares this sports knowledge with his Goldfish patrons, usually on Friday and Saturday night, in between rounds of his famous espresso martinis and black cherry cosmopolitans. He attracts more than 30,000 unique hits per day at TheKnicksBlog.com, which he founded in April 2008. There, he broke the story that Amar’e Stoudemire would be rejoining D’Antoni and assured an anxious city as early as last September that Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t sign a contract extension with the Nets. He won a New York Emmy this year for his work at SNY.tv.
Grown-Up-Date Night Spot
Larchmont | 914.834.9463 | vintage1891.com
On any given evening, Vintage 1891, named for the year Larchmont was incorporated, is packed—and not just with young bar-hoppers, but with actual grown-ups. So what’s the appeal to the over-30 set? There’s the comfortable lounge atmosphere with its custom-made wing-back chairs and large communal tables. Add the small nibbles (we’re big fans of the rosemary-infused popcorn, fresh ricotta crostini, and well-thought-out cheese plates), as well as the fabulous libations—lots of interesting wines as well as small batch beers and hand-crafted seasonal cocktails. Oenophiles will have no quibbles with the 25 wines-by-the-glass, offered in three-ounce or six-ounce pours, with a list organized by grape. Not sure what to try? No worries. The knowledgeable, friendly staff—in cool, black shirts with single words like “smooth,” “approachable,” and “expressive” to describe various vintages—are always happy to let you sample.
Wine Bar Alternative
Haiku ASIAN BISTRO
Scarsdale | 914.722.4200 | haikuasianbistro.com
Think pan-Asian and you think sake. But what about a glass of Slovanian Muscat or a
bottle of Californian Nebbiolo? Thanks to Randall Restiano, Haiku’s wine director, who studied at the Sommelier Society of America, there’s a wide range of interesting vintages to choose from. In other words, you can sit in the cozy lounge or dine under the rainbow-colored chandeliers of the dining room and sample from among 16 glasses of wine and 40 bottle offerings. The wines, separated by flavor profile and body weight, are by turns traditional, organic, sustainable, or biodynamic, and focused on food-pairings, meaning there’s definitely something to go with your spicy noodles or sushi. Ask Restiano his favorite and you’ll get a different answer depending on his mood (or time of year). For the best value, he suggests the 2009 Torrontes from Loca Linda in Argentina. For a “wow,” he suggests the Bodegas Chacra Pinot Noir from Patagonia, an amazing red that pairs unbelievably with the delicate cuisine. Getting thirsty? No worries. The wine program, which started at the Scarsdale location, will be included in White Plains later this year and selected wines at the other Haiku restaurants.
White Plains | 914.997.2000 | hudsongrilleny.com
Good food and good drinks are usually enough to make us happy but at Hudson Grille, there’s another ingredient—an open-air garden sporting a colorful waterfall and 40-foot marble bar. Yes, Friday and Saturday nights may be crowded, but we like that. Who wants to be alone drinking, eating, and checking out the scene?
Tequilas and Margaritas
Port Chester | 914.937.8226 (TACO) | bartaco.com
Agave, hand-selected, 100-percent. That’s one reason the 30-plus tequilas offered here are so superb. This new favorite of ours does not sell any “mixtos” (less expensive, blended tequilas like Cuervo Gold) and boasts an exclusive, well-thought-out, quality-driven tequila list. Which leads us to the margaritas. Made with top-notch ingredients—a premium, 100-percent agave tequila (Herradura Silver); a high-quality Triple Sec (Luxardo Triplum); agave honey; and fresh, squeezed-to-order lime juice (no sour mixes here)—it’s labor-intensive and super-fresh. In addition, rather than “free-pouring,” bartenders use jiggers, ensuring your order consistently delivers. For those true connoisseurs, bartaco stocks a small selection of Mezcal, another Mexican spirit made with agave, but more rustic and intense. It also is using some USDA-certified organic tequilas such as Puro Verde and Azuñia.
Alternative to a Caribbean Vacation
The Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar
Rye | 914.967.1020 | pierrestaurantandtikibar.com
Recession (or upcoming college expenses) got you staying home this summer? Lucky for us Westchesterites, sitting near the water can make us feel far, far away. Add some tropical music, Polynesian-style décor, drinks the color of sunshine, and some thatched umbrellas, and you’ve got a spot that mimics the islands. We don’t care what people may say about the food (expect your typical salads, fish-shack seafood, and fried appetizers)—it’s the ambience at The Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar that entices us, putting us in a mellow state of mind (the blue sangria helps). The restaurant—sibling of Seaside Johnnies at nearby Oakland Beach—boasts one of the county’s killer views of the Sound, where you can honestly look out on the horizon and forget where you are. Just don’t forget where you parked the car.
Secret Sundays at
Elements Food & Spirits
White Plains | 914.358.4930 | elementswhiteplains.com
It may be called “Secret Sundays,” but everyone seems to be in on it. After all, despite the fact that the party is marketed to Westchester’s small gay population, “it’s straights, gays, and questioning alike” who take part, reports Kevin E. Burke, who hosts the party at White Plains’s Elements Food & Spirits. Burke says that people of all different ages and races come to dance to the mix of music (everything from disco to Michael Jackson to techno) or sit on Elements’ rooftop (heated in the winter) to enjoy conversation. Domestic and imported beers are $5, and themed cocktails range from $8 to $12. The party starts at 8 pm and goes until 4 am. And, there’s no cover.