Pour It On
A look at 17 of Westchester’s best watering holes, bar none
After believing one year ago that we had shattered the notion that Westchester had the nightlife scene of a monastery, we were saddened to learn that some of you (and you know who you are) didn’t buy it. Well, we are relentless, so we went back out into the sultry evening scene to come up with 17 more bars to help us prove our point: Westchester is cool (we can drink!) when it comes to nightlife. (And no more griping, you hear!)
photography by chris ware
Korova Milk Bar
213 E Post Rd, White Plains
Got Milk? There’s more than just milk at the Korova Milk Bar.
If sometime soon you find yourself sipping an orange cream margarita surrounded by naked, longhaired, snowy white women mannequins in, shall we say, interesting poses, don’t panic. You’re not actually in a Stanley Kubrick film; you’re just in a bar based on a bar in a Stanley Kubrick film.
After leaving its East Village home in October 2006, co-owners Dominic Trentadue, Todd Shenk, and Alex Fatouros moved Korova north to nightlife-friendly White Plains. The bar, which is themed after the hangout of the same name serving milk laced with drugs in A Clockwork Orange, creates kitsch concoctions (drug-free!) on East Post Road. These include milk-based drinks (“Molokos”) such as the Moloko Frozen Embryo (coffee-flavored Stoli, butterscotch Schnapps, cappuccino liqueur, ice cream and Snickers Bar) or the Moloko Jon Benet (vodka, peach Schnapps, strawberries and ice cream), as well as martinis and other drinks served in conical glasses interlocked with spherical cups of ice. But it’s the atmosphere that makes Korova unique. Twenty LCD screens show movie clips in the dimly lit café-sized room. “It’s awesome,” says White Plains resident Breanne Woodworth. “I mean they have mannequins hanging from the ceiling.”
Best for: Multi-colored slush. We like the concept of Margarita machines at this place, possibly only because we haven’t seen them elsewhere in the county, but we need to see a little more alcohol in there before we call it a “Margarita.”
Worst for: Neighborhood bar flies. Korova has a section reserved for bottle service only, making it unlike your typical neighborhood haunt.
Insider’s tip: Check out the food. The self-proclaimed “home-style American café” dishes up gourmet entrées such as pork medallions and pecan chicken.
The Gnarly Vine
501 Main St, New Rochelle
“Westchester doesn’t have anything like this,” declares Mount Vernon business owner
Aurora Anthony Gross. “You have to go to the city or Brooklyn. Hopefully this is a pioneer in this city.” She’s right. With the exception of the newly opened Pour Café & Wine Bar in Mount Kisco, our county is vino-free outside of typical restaurants and bars. But the Gnarly Vine, which opened last October, seeks to change that. Located in a space that can aptly be described as cool yet cozy and as new customer Joshua Gross says “fosters conversation,” the candle-lit jazz-filled Gnarly Vine serves 30 whites and almost 100 reds, including a Domaine De La Romanee-Conti, 1969 Echezeaux for $1,000.
Best for: Sicilian veal-and-beef meatballs, which are so popular, the bar often sells out of them before the end of the night.
Worst for: Crowds. Though the bar can hold up to a 40-person party, with only eight bar stools and 13 tables, too much traffic might whither this vine.
Insider’s tip: The bar holds wine tastings on an increasingly regular basis.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills
Can you call the bar at Blue Hill at Stone Barns trendy? Well, we just did—with good reason. The crowd, whether they come just for a drink or two (and, yes, according to General Manager Philippe Gouze, many come just for the spirits) is sophisticated (we assume this from the luxury cars parked by the valets and the designer clothes worn by the patrons). The ambience with its crackling fireplace and comfy sofas is lovely and inviting, and the drinks—oh the drinks! Well, they may not be cheap ($14 bar charge is not a frugal’s delight), but they are delicious. Not convinced? In summer, guests sip purple basil Mojitos or strawberry or peach sangria; in the fall, it’s apple pie martinis; in the winter, beet Bloody Marys; and spring is accompanied by rhubarb cosmopolitans. It’s not surprising that the bar serves lots of cocktails, “actually two-thirds of all
liquor sales,” says Gouze. And to nibble on while sipping away, try mini beet burgers that look as if they belong in a dollhouse but taste like they belong in a gourmand’s palace, or try a plate of artisanal cheese or homemade charcuterie.
Best for: Fun with spirits. Besides the kitsch cocktails, Blue Hill infuses its own vodka with ingredients such as oats and honey, geranium, golden beet, and fig and fennel.
Worst for: Tightwads. Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac will set you back $150 a glass.
Insider’s tip: According to Gouze, liquor distributors “show us things they don’t show other places.” So expect to see the hard-to-find Hudson Valley Bourbon and other niche nips at the Hill.
A step off the Emerald Isle
Rory Dolan’s Restaurant
890 Mclean Ave, Yonkers
Last year we said that if
Westchester’s bar scene had a mayor, it would be Jack Tracy of the Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale. This year, we’re appointing Rory Dolan County Clerk. Why? Try to interview him without being interrupted by his many friends multiple times. It’s not uncommon to see Dolan walking through his gigantic 10,000-square-foot Yonkers landmark, offering his customers, in his thick Irish accent, a drink. “I get to all the tables,” he says.
Dolan puts a lot of effort into customer service. He trains his staff to be friendly, and believes that the solution to any problem at the bar is to be nice. “If you’re nice to them when something goes wrong, they’ll come back.”
And his approach seems to be working. “I only go to bars Rory is associated with” says regular
Courtney Regan. Besides keeping things friendly, Dolan keeps things Irish at his eponymous bar. “We have traditional Irish music on Sundays,” he notes. And the bar serves plenty of traditional Irish dishes including Irish stew, turnips, and a shepherd’s pie that frequent diner Bobby Curdgel calls “awesome.”
And Dolan’s doles out big portions at affordable prices. “The Irish do not do small portions,” he says. And Dolan keeps his prices low so that “if hard times do hit, people will remember where to go.”
Best for: Four weddings and a funeral. The bar can accommodate up to 630 guests for its many private parties, which include lots of weddings and, due in part to its location next to a funeral parlor, the occasional funeral.
Worst for: A small Thanksgiving. Rory Dolan’s serves 1,200 meals each Thanksgiving over the course of six different seatings.
Insider’s tip: Looking for Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone? Like most Yonkers residents, you can often find him at Rory Dolan’s, where he “loves the food.”
355 Kear St, Yorktown Heights
Opposite the bar at Murphy’s are the “snugs,” the semi-private booths characteristic of pubs in Ireland.
Quick, for all you worldly trivia buffs out there, what is a seisiùn (pronounced seshoon)? Is it (a) a rare Irish mushroom; (b) a whisky-based drink; or (c) an Irish jam session? Time’s up. The answer is (c). “It’s like Irish open-mike night,” explains Sean Patrick Murphy who, along with his six brothers and sisters, pooled their money together to buy Murphy’s in 2005 and practice the “big Irish trait” of sticking together. Murphy’s is the only place we found that has a seisiùn—every second Sunday (prepare to hear some fiddling). But even when live music is not on tap, Murphy’s pulls you in. Near the bar are a series of “snugs,” semi-enclosed booths whose counterparts on the Emerald Isle were built to allow ladies and children to “look into the bar and have their own space,” Murphy explains. Above the snugs are shelves full of books. Why? “Irish are known to be well read.”
Best for: Guinness. Murphy purchased a special “Gmix” nitrous-oxide-based pouring system to pour pints of perfectly layered, authentically smooth stout.
Worst for: Murphy’s. Despite the name, the bar does not serve the
Insider’s tip: No joke: ask Murphy to take the shirt off his back. The bar owner has an awesomely-detailed gigantic Celtic cross tattooed there.
538 Willett Ave, Port Chester
Walk into Davy Byrnes and order a Bushmills 21 neat. Bartender Vincent Furry, with an accent as Irish as they come, will open the bottle, hand you the cork to sniff, pour a perfect splash of the woodsy brown inebriant, and without hesitation tell you, “That’s one-hundred dollars; one-fifty because it’s neat.” Relax! It’s a joke—one that he’s played on many of the bar’s regulars, most of whom he knows by name.
This dark bar (misplaced inside a mini-strip mall), with hung green Christmas lights and six flat-screen TVs (one almost always showing soccer), caters primarily to a lively salt-of-the-earth, working-class crowd. And the later it gets, the livelier the bunch becomes, mainly because, when the bars in neighboring Connecticut close, this is where they come. “It’s called the Connecticut wave,” says Greenwich, Connecticut, resident John
Morus. It doesn’t hurt that the kitchen (which serves, as owner John Mulvey says, “mostly American food with an Irish flavor,” including corned beef and cabbage) is open until 3 am.
Best for: The Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. When the Greenwich parade concludes, much of the crowd ends up here to enjoy live Irish bands.
Worst for: Pretentious types.
Insider’s tip: Need to catch up on the latest news from County Cork? For $4, Davy Byrnes sells newspapers imported from Ireland. Call ahead to reserve a copy.
Where the game is always on the tube
1006 Broadway, Thornwood
Fan friendly—that’s the atmosphere at big, spacious, and clean Finnegan’s Grill located in the Thornwood Town Center shopping center. Why? Maybe it’s the $1.50 drafts given away all Saturday during college football season to anyone who comes in wearing a college jersey. Or maybe it’s the football jersey raffled off during Monday Night Football (each draft order comes with a ticket) or the Mets or Yankees jerseys raffled off during Friday night baseball games. Or maybe it’s the dollar draft Thursday nights or live music on
Saturday nights that’s played cover free. Or maybe, just maybe, as regular Andrew Belle of Mamaroneck says, “it’s all the TVs.” Manager Michael Desimone points out, “unlike other bars,” there are enough tubes to display every game of the NFL Sunday ticket. This includes four 42-inch TVs and a 106-inch projection screen near the window. And at Finnegan’s, the TVs are not just for watching other people achieve competitive glory but also for showing off your own moves in the monthly Wednesday Wii competitions in which the winner of the game du jour brings home one of the still-hard-to-find Nintendo gaming systems. For those of you guys too “mature” for video games, fear not. According to Belle, “Pace is close enough so there is a good choice of girls.”
Best for: “The coldest beer in the county,” Desimone says. The bar installed state-of-the-art Cobra taps. The taps are so cold that touching them leaves icy hand marks on the shiny metal.
Worst for: Visiting football team players. After local Westlake football games, expect most of the team and cheerleading squad to show up at the bar.
Insider’s tip: Check out “beerfest” once every four months, in which for $100 per four-person team, groups compete in quarters, flip cup, beer pong, chugging, and a tricycle relay race. And get this—all beer is included in the entry price.
Sports Page Pub
White Plains Mall
200 Hamilton Ave, White Plains
Chappaqua resident Tom O’Connell graduated from
Boston College in 2003. And, when his beloved Eagles are on TV, he heads to the Sports Page to watch them. “I specifically come here to watch B.C. games,” he says.
He’s not alone. According to waitress Frances DeChiara, the bar is “packed” every time a big game is on the tube. And during the NCAA basketball tournament, the place is full all day, even during weekdays, throughout the tourney, with fans from every school flocking to watch one of the more than 30 television sets. Why? Just ask Stephen Burns. “I found a home here,” he says. “It’s nice, comfy, no lowlifes, lots of TVs, and I’ve made friends here. And the owner recognized me at the St. Patrick’s Day parade after only meeting me once.”
Best for: Kids. The bar carried
its bowling and driving games, VCR and DVD player from its old Mamaroneck Avenue location and set up a kids room in its new spot.
Worst for: Parking. The Sports Page is in a pay-to-park lot. Fortunately, the bar validates tickets giving customers two hours’ free parking
Insider’s tip: Sports Page offers the popular Buzztime trivia and game machines. Patrons often line up at the bar and play virtual poker against each other through the mobile gaming consoles.
Westchester Sports Bar and Grill
320 Yonkers Ave, Yonkers
Here is a 6,000-square-foot space with 13 televisions, a pool table, a dining area, video games, and all the accoutrements that make a sports bar a sports bar. But the sporting aspect of the place is only part of what makes Westchester Sports Bar and Grill such a happening place. Housed in a building formally occupied by a roller rink, the WSB&G is also known as a music venue and a lounge. The music side of the bar, known as “the haunt” (due to the dozens of patrons who—no joke—claim to have seen ghosts at the bar; owner Guy Fessenden claims to have, too) features a stage and dance floor. The bar is a Peak Radio and Budweiser concert venue and is looking into signing national acts.
Best for: Ultimate Karaoke. The bar’s big stage will soon serve as a backdrop for karaoke performed in front of a live band
Worst for: The faint of heart. On Thursday nights the bar is converted into a horror film theater for its weekly fright night.
Insider’s tip: Below the bar is a 15,000-square-foot space where Fessenden hopes to get licensed soon to hold Ultimate Fighting Championship-style matches.
A little healthy competition
869 Mclean Ave, Yonkers
Darts on Tuesday, pool and darts on Wednesday, more darts on certain Fridays. Phew…that’s a lot of bull’s-eyes. Indeed, two-year-old Danny Macs takes part in the Bronx-Westchester dart league and has four teams that compete amongst 56 others. It also has three teams in the smaller Westchester County Dart Association. This means that one set of the Danny Macs teams is competing at home each Tuesday. On every other Wednesday, it’s ladies’ darts night or pool night. And Friday, the bar hosts a dart tournament. Newbies can buy their own dart supplies at the bar.
Best for: Winners. The men’s dart team won the league two years ago, and the women’s team won the championship game last year
Worst for: Sensitive ears. Besides showcasing karaoke on Thursdays, and live music or DJs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, the bar hires bagpipers to play on St. Patrick’s Day.
Insider’s tip: Dart and pool team members get free chow while they take aim, including beef stew, shepard’s pie, roast beef, potatoes, and chicken curry.
1 Mill St, Port Chester
Next time you’re heading back from a posh dinner out in Greenwich, pull your car over to the side of the road as you cross the Byrum River on Mill Street and get ready for the hottest shuffleboarding this side of Connecticut. Karen
Harris and her husband Sam have been running this quintessential neighborhood hangout for nearly 20 years. In that time, they have made Sam’s a virtual Port Chester institution. “We grew up here,” says frequent customer Sam Susko, “and we now get to enjoy what our parents did.” Indeed, the bar has been around in various forms since the 1940s, but it was in 1988 when Sam took over and installed a shuffleboard table. “He used to hang out in the Bruce Park Grill,” his wife notes, “and he loved playing shuffleboard. So he thought, when you go to a bar you want to not just drink, you want to have a game, and one where you get better at it the more you play.” Says regular William Bob, “This is the only good shuffleboard table” in Port Chester.
Best for: Food. Sam is a Johnson & Wales-trained chef, and outside of a few soup bases, makes everything fresh. Don’t be surprised to see him walk out of the kitchen with a newly-created hamburger on a spatula offering samples.
Worst for: Peanut allergies. Free nuts permeate the bar, providing ample energy for shuffleboarders.
Insider’s tip: At Sam’s, Bob tells us, “the inmates run the asylum.” Well, not really, but don’t be surprised to see some regulars manning the bar from time to time.
128 Bedford Rd, Katonah
Beer Pong. For those of you who know what it is and want to compete at the Westchester Mecca of Beer Pong, there’s no better place to be than the Katonah Grill. Every Tuesday from the end of May until September, 20 to 30 teams of two throw in $10 for the chance of being crowned the Beer Pong kings of the county. (Okay, for those who don’t know, Beer Pong involves hitting ping-pong balls into cups of beer, which your opponent then must drink. The first team to run out of cups loses.) Prizes reach the hundreds of dollars, but the best part is that the first round of beer is on the bar. “It’s big, and our tables are the perfect size for the games,” declares Yorktown resident and bouncer Jason Longobardi. And for all those law-enforcement types reading this, don’t worry—the bar requires each competing team to supply a designated driver.
Best for: Video gamers. The bar regularly sponsors Xbox and Wii gaming contests on its flat-screen television.
Worst for: Late-night music. The bar no longer offers music, after a fight with the town about its cabaret license.
Insider’s tip: Hunger for the bar’s Tuscan shrimp over linguini with sun-dried tomatoes but don’t have time for a sit-down meal? Call ahead and pick up at the “grill to go” counter.
Muscoot Inn Restaurant
105 Rte 35, Katonah
Waitress Bonnie Corcoran says it’s “not a biker bar. The bikers we get are wealthy.” And it’s not a dive bar like those in the pits of Hell’s Kitchen. But it is a Westchester dive bar (sorry guys, but the Camino in the parking lot doesn’t really dispel the dive concept), albeit a really cool and classy one. In existence since 1920, the current incarnation of the Inn is run by Sak Petchsai, the Thailand-born friend of Reka, owner of Reka’s restaurant in White Plains. Petchsai is beloved by his customer