Best of Westchester 2012: Fun & Leisure
Where to drink a brew, hear a tune, and see a movie or two
Thomson’s Art Supply Inc
184 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 949-4885 thomsonsart.com
This isn’t Michael’s craft store or any other cheapo chain for low-quality crafts supplies. Thomson’s is the place where real artists go to outfit themselves with fine brushes, paint, and canvases. Look for better brands, like Gamblin oils and Golden acrylics—though you can find more affordable supplies, too, which is one reason the shop has become a favorite of art students looking for a range of price points. And, when you’re finished with your masterpiece, you can return to Thomson’s for custom framing.
Coolest Library Collection
Jacob Burns Film Center’s Curated Collection at the Mount Pleasant Public Library
350 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville
When you’re looking to watch a movie at home, sometimes services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video give you too many choices. With thousands upon thousands of available movies, how do you know what’s good? Such problems don’t exist at the Mount Pleasant Public Library, where the DVD collection is curated by none other than the Jacob Burns Film Center right up the road—so you know you’re choosing from a vetted, time-tested, all-killer/no-filler group of films. And it’s not like the Center picked a few films and called it a day—this year, the collection grew to more than 450 movies (up from 200 when it began). New titles include An Education and Up in the Air. Best of all, since they’re housed at the library, access to JBFC’s good taste is completely free.
The Beer Necessities
11 Quaker Ridge Rd, New Rochelle
Imagine this: cans and bottles as far as the eye can see, a kaleidoscope of beer vessels gathered within four walls. At the end of a dizzying array of 700 brands of beer is a gleaming, 15-spigot Pegas station that pours a daily changing roster of just-tapped beer into the take-home container of your choice. Folks, this heaven exists and it is called The Beer Necessities.
Photo by Phil Mansfield
Hump Thursdays at The Cookery
39 Chestnut St, Dobbs Ferry
(914) 305-2336 thecookeryrestaurant.com
Hump Thursdays at The Cookery restaurant is a refreshingly low-key “gay hangout” every other Thursday. “I lived in Westchester and I knew there was nowhere to go for a gay scene,” says Cookery Special Events Manager Bjorn Van Wyngaardt, who pours generous drinks at the bar and runs the event. The vibe he’s fostered is relaxed, social, and inclusive, with both men and women over 21. And, with $6 cocktails and $5 beers, plus cheeky drinks like the Master Cleanse (a variation on the diet fad, that would be citron vodka, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper), who can blame them for preferring it to the City scene?
The hike to the top of Anthony’s Nose is a six-mile, three-hour loop, but it’s worth every step. Along the trail, you get an unparalleled view of the Hudson River, and, once you reach the summit, you’ll find a breathtaking vista overlooking the Bear Mountain Bridge. Plus, from the elevation at 900 feet, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve climbed about 1,500 feet—so pack a treat to eat while you’re enjoying the best Hudson River view.
Indoor Archery Range
Photo by Phil Mansfield
801 E Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck
(914) 777-7500; extreme-archery.com
So, you want to be Katniss Everdeen and learn to use a bow and arrow? There’s no better place to start than Extreme Archery, the one-stop shop for would-be archers (and the county’s first indoor archery range). The on-site store will get you outfitted with all the bows, arrows, and equipment you need; then you can take one-on-one, half-hour lessons with the pros on the 20-yard range. The indoor facility means you can practice even when the weather is crummy, and, once you’ve been at it for a while, you can bring your bow to the staff—they specialize in bow tune-ups.
Cinema de Lux Ridge Hill
29 Fitzgerald St, Yonkers
The screens are big. The floors aren’t sticky. The sound is good. The seats are comfy. There’s a Ben & Jerry’s in the lobby. It shows classic movies on Mondays for only $2. But what really gets us excited about—and willing to pay the parking fee for—Cinema de Lux in Ridge Hill are the martinis. The on-site Studio 3 Restaurant & Bar takes the awkwardness out of where to go to discuss the movie afterward—you can stay right there, order a few drinks, some appetizers, a burger, a wrap, or a dessert, and argue about whether The Dark Knight Rises lived up to the hype.
Photo by John Vecchiolla
Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plz
(914) 592-2222 broadwaytheatre.com
Last year, you’d excitedly attend a show at the Westchester Broadway Theatre—only to wait for around two months before you could go back and see the next one. No longer. The theater has shortened its run times and ramped up the amount of productions it puts on each year, nearly doubling the offerings. From now until the end of the year, you can see five more shows—and you should.
New Family Festival
Pirates of the Hudson:
The Siege of Sleepy Hollow
At Philipsburg Manor
381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow
(914) 631-8200; hudsonvalley.org
Seafarers (and landlubbers), young and old alike, can all find something to pique their interest at the newest pirate-themed event. Kids can crawl through bubbly shipwrecks, learn to swordfight, or take part in a treasure hunt. Teens can gross themselves out at the Museum of Oddities and shop around in the Thieves Market. Parents can sit with a pint of grog from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company and listen to live pirate musicians sing sea chanties. Everyone can watch the wandering jugglers, singers, and other performers—and everyone will go home happy. This year’s pirates festival takes place June 30, July 1, and July 4 to July 8.
The Picture House
175 Wolfs La, Pelham
(914) 738-7337; thepicturehouse.org
Since it’s started showing movies again, we’ve always enjoyed a trip to The Picture House in Pelham—but we love it even more now that the theater unveiled a renovation last summer. The seats are cushier. The sound improved. Historic windows were uncovered. It added cup-holders. It even upgraded the snacks in the concession stand. And, thankfully, the movies are still top-notch.
Hastings Friday Night Live
Live from New York, it’s… Friday night? At Hastings-on-Hudson’s monthly festival, it is. Back in 2010, the village wanted to “bring people into the downtown,” explains organizer Lisa O’Reilly, so it closed down one street to have a few vendors and some food. “But it snowballed into an event the whole village looks forward to.” Two years later, Hastings Friday Night Live (HFNL) is still going strong. Every month has a theme, and the events run all year, with indoor happenings in winter. Past HFNLs have included authors’ readings, pop-up art exhibits, live mural painting, street dance parties, balloon-animal making, fire dancing, a dunk tank, and more. Each event has food and entertainment. Each tries to have events that can appeal to all age groups. (O’Reilly notes that even middle-schoolers, “a really hard group to please,” get excited to work the event, and there’s a charter bus to bring seniors.) And each is free. HFNLs, which run from 6 to 9 pm and often attract more than 500 people, usually take place on the first Friday of the month, but can vary depending on other holidays and other events, so check out rivertownsguide.com/fnl for schedules.
THE Cellar Bar
8 Railroad Way, Larchmont
The Cellar Bar, just across from the Larchmont Metro-North station and four steps below street level, is one of the friendliest bars around. Not fake-and-saccharine friendly, or even cliquey friendly—just friendly friendly. “I’m fifty-seven, and I shoot the breeze with friends of mine who are twenty-eight,” Manager Gary Bisonette says. “Everybody knows everybody, and if you don’t know everybody, you’re going to by the second time you come in.” The crowd runs the gamut from post-work commuters to young professionals to local au pairs who eventually go back to homes in places like New Zealand and Amsterdam, proudly wearing their The Cellar Bar T-shirts. And the décor is part wood-lined Irish pub and part Caribbean parrot-figurines. (The owner, says Bisonette, is a huge Jimmy Buffett fan.) The bar stays open until 4 am 365 days a year, so, while the patrons do have a wide age range, they do skew younger later in the night. They’re so friendly, you can even call the bar a dive, and they won’t mind. “A dive is a good thing now,” Bisonette says.
Outdoor Archery Range
The Sportsman Center
at Blue Mountain Reservation
183 Watch Hill Rd, Cortlandt Manor
(914) 862-5280; parks.westchester gov.com/blue-mountain-reservation/sportsman-center
The Sportsman Center gives you the sense that you’re really out hunting in the woods. You’re not just shooting at unimpeded targets directly in front of you. The progressive archery course takes you on a trail that wends its way in and around trees with targets interspersed throughout, so you’re shooting at different angles and elevations. And, just this spring, the Center debuted a 3D course, so you can aim at Styrofoam recreations of real wildlife.
4400 Boston Post Rd, Pelham Manor
You can tell a lot about a business by its customers’ loyalty, but few have as many longtime patrons as Pelham Manor’s Knuckleheads Tavern. “Probably sixty percent of our customers have been coming here for twenty-five years,” says owner Lenny Collura. That is, since Knuckleheads opened its doors. “They’re not just customers; they’re friends.” They come for the homey grub specials, the beer, the sports on the 47-inch flat-screen TV, and the camaraderie. “It’s a nice place to bring your family,” Collura says. Keep a look out: This summer, it’ll be celebrating its 25th anniversary, probably with a big clambake and barbecue.
Place for a First Date
Batonnage Wine Bar
10 Marble Ave
You’ve finally landed that first date. Now, where do you go? Batonnage Wine Bar, of course. “The idea was to have something for adults,” says owner Paul Paljevic. “We don’t have TVs in here, and the environment is all quartz, onyx, stone, brick. It’s very warm, an upscale social club, European-style.” Paljevic would know: He is originally from Montenegro. Whether you’re on a first date or your first outing since the baby was born, the best nights to visit may be Wednesday for wine-tastings or Friday for acoustic guitar, piano, or saxophone.
Vintage Lounge & Restaurant
171 Main St, White Plains
(914) 328-5803; vintagebar.net
Few ways of cutting loose are as much fun as karaoke. But if you end up with too many tuneless mic hogs, it can seem hazardous to your health. Enter White Plains’s Vintage Lounge & Restaurant, which is bringing talent to the usual swig ’n’ sing with its American Idol-style competition. Vintage—an exposed-brick restaurant, bar, and event space—started its cover-free, 8 pm karaoke Thursdays soon after opening in 2003, but, for the past few years, it has incorporated a season of the $500-prize “White Plains Idol” in the spring (with hopes to expand it to the fall). “It’s a fun evening for people who have just one more day to go for work,” says genial owner Declan Farrell in his Galway accent. Farrell is quick to say that novices with a bit of liquid courage—and their screechy versions of Bon Jovi or Journey—are welcome, too. “That’s part of the fun,” he says.
Photo by Andre Baranowski
241 E Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 864-0606; pourmtkisco.com
Pour offers the Holy Grail of hooch—this intimate bar slings Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve bourbon in distillations of 15, 20, and 23 years old. Also look for A.H. Hirsch Reserve’s super-rare, 16-year-old, pot-distilled, sour-mash bourbon, along with Hirsch’s 25- and 28-year-old reserve. You won’t find this all-star whiskey lineup anywhere other than at the bar in heaven.
Beer Lover’s Four-Pack
Hopheads rejoice! These four additions to the Westchester beer scene will have any self-respecting beer fan raising a pint (or three).
Jeff O’Neill at The Peekskill Brewery
55 Hudson Ave, Peekskill
Let’s just call it a game-changer: Ithaca Beer Company’s much-touted brewmaster comes to Peekskill. This is a bit like Peyton Manning going to the Broncos.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
444 Saw Mill River Rd Elmsford
The proliferation of restaurant growler service must have rankled Scott Vaccaro of Captain Lawrence: at his new bigger location, he’s offering 24 taps with a menu of light bites. Look for visiting food trucks and all the free beer samples you can drink with the purchase of a $2 glass.
The Craftsman Ale House
235 Harrison Ave, Harrison
This sweet bit of new beer-geek bait offers home-brewer events, six changing taps, flights, and “kill the keg” parties; they must need a crowbar to get some folks out.
Growlers Beer Bistro
25 Main St, Tuckahoe
This Tuckahoe bistro means serious business with 17 taps offering world-spanning brews. We also love that we can keep our palate piqued with devils on horseback—bacon-wrapped prunes stuffed with blue cheese (and we’ll drink to that)!