The 50 Best Drink Spots in Westchester
50 Great Places to drink in Westchester
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Photography by Andre Baranowski
Do you remember when bartenders squirted sour mix with soda guns? Or when they skipped the fresh citrus in margaritas for the Aqua Velva tang of Rose’s Lime juice? Thankfully, those days have passed; Westchester’s enjoying a reunion with handcrafted drinks. From biodynamic wines and local craft-brewed beer to cask-aged cocktails and New York State-distilled spirits, Westchester’s drinks are all about quality. And it doesn’t stop with alcohol, as much as we love it. There are plenty of sophisticated soda spots and coffee bars where you can still savor a well-made drink.
So go ahead and pour yourself a tall one. Here are Westchester’s 50 hottest spots for cool quaffs.
Bedford Post Inn
954 Old Post Rd, Bedford
“Beer-tails” is a less-than-glamorous name for drinks that combine ale with juices, spirits, and liqueurs. At Bedford Post, look for the Lager Snap, the restaurant’s take on the Bermudian classic Dark ’n Stormy. It combines lager, Saranac Ginger Beer, dark rum, and candied ginger, and gives them some punch from Art in the Age’s SNAP liqueur, flavored with molasses, vanilla, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and other spices. According to Bedford Post Beverage Director Meng Chiang, the Lager Snap offers, “everything I would want in a summer cocktail: bubbles, lowered alcohol, a little bit of sugar, and a refreshing kick from the ginger.” Perfect for sipping on Bedford Post’s terrace, overlooking blooming May fields.
386 Main St, Armonk
In 1998, when Stephen Paul Mancini was beverage director of Union Square Cafe, he was discovered by the New York Sun, holed up in the restaurant’s basement, tinkering with his family’s ancestral limoncello. Nowadays, Mancini’s all grown up (he owns Armonk’s chic Restaurant North with James Beard Award nominee Chef Eric Gabrynowicz), but he still sneaks time to get up to old tricks. Drop by North in any season to find serious, hand-crafted cocktails, like this month’s Grazie Maria (recipe on page 57), or the Wise Guy, which is grounded by Harney & Sons Fine Teas black tea from Millerton, New York. The key to the Wise Guy—besides Woodford Reserve bourbon—is Mancini’s own sugar syrup, which he’s flavored with nepitella, a minty, oregano-like herb native to Tuscany. Of course, at Slow Food-approved North, it doesn’t do to source from afar—which is why North’s nepitella comes from Bedford, where it’s grown by Mimi Edelman of I & Me Farm. (BTW: Restaurant North is a triple threat when it comes to bevvies. Look for Mancini’s obsessively curated roster of biodynamic wines and house-concocted, non-alcoholic sodas.)
Blue Hill at Stone Barns/StilltheOne Gins
630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills
As one might predict, Blue Hill at Stone Barns does stylish cocktails—but the secret is that you don’t need to commit to a tasting menu to enjoy one. Snuggle into the cozy, hearth-warmed bar built into this former Rockefeller barn and sample one of Blue Hill at Stone Barns’ bespoke gins made in partnership with Port Chester’s StilltheOne Distillery. StilltheOne, which makes Comb Vodka and Comb 9 Gin, has distilled four seasonal, proprietary gins made from honey (including Stone Barns Center honey) with botanicals either grown or foraged on Stone Barns’ Pocantico Hills property. To be clear, some of these gins’ components (like juniper berries and a few other things) are not local—but their main flavorings, herbs, berries, and flowers come from Westchester’s most elegant backyard. In spring, look for green coriander, elderflowers, elderberries, and ginger. In summer, find holy basil, lavender, lemon verbena, and coriander. In fall, you’ll be warmed by sassafras, cardamom leaves, and blue basil. And in winter, you’ll be comforted by ginger, sumac berries, and cinnamon. Mmmm.
Bellota at 42
1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains
Touted as “Westchester’s Living Room” by the mayor of White Plains, Bellota offers sophisticated traditional tapas along with the molecular gastronomy that made Chef Anthony Goncalves famous. Overlook the entire county—from shore to shore and north to south—while sipping an Artesia: Courvoisier VSOP, Averna, Amaro Montenegro, Cointreau, and an orange twist.
1 Radisson Plz, New Rochelle
(914) 576-4141; radisson.com
Just because there might be a bikini in your future doesn’t mean that you can’t catch a buzz on Saturday night. Check out NoMa Social, the highlight of the Radisson’s $2 million makeover. There, you’ll find a quartet of drinks that each come in at around 150 calories—like the Cuba Lb: Bacardi rum, Diet Coke, and muddled limes, or the Gilt, No!, which offers a liquor of choice, honey, Splenda, and Red Bull Sugarfree. PS: Not to suggest the obvious, but speedy Red Bull might also keep you on NoMa’s dance floor, jiggling those calories away.
Sparkle for a Cause at Crabtree’s Kittle House
Consider it sort of a micro-gala-fundraiser. Every Tuesday night in summer and early fall, the Kittle House opens Amy’s Garden (dedicated by owner John Crabtree to his late wife, Amy) to different charitable causes. A portion of each night’s receipts have gone to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, the Mount Kisco Child Care Center, and the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center. All good causes, but these intimate, alfresco soirées offer a chance to sip Champagne and socialize in one of Westchester’s toniest spots. (PS: If bubbly is not for you, check out PDT–obsessed head mixologist Emilio Urteaga, whose house-made bitters are derived from the Kittle House’s onsite herb garden.)
Crabtree’s Kittle House
11 Kittle Rd, Chappaqua
The Whiskey Bar
241 E Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 864-0606; pourmtkisco.com
Though Pour is ostensibly a wine bar, its whiskey list reads like Fantasy Baseball. Even disregarding the list’s nine rare, small-batch Scotches, you’ll still see 35 of America’s most desirable whiskeys. Look for A.H. Hirsch Reserve’s cult, 16-year-old “pot distilled” bourbon (as rare as hen’s teeth), plus the whole complement of coveted Pappy Van Winkles —13-, 15-, and 20-plus-year-olds—up to and including the rarest of them all. Pour’s 23-year-old, limited-release Pappy Van Winkle is one of only 1,200 bottles on the market. But if your sipping veers more toward local producers, have no fear: New York is here. Look for a wide range of distillations from Tuthilltown Spirits, as well as from Finger Lakes (makers of McKenzie whiskey) and Delaware Phoenix Distilleries. And, if that’s not overkill, then there’s one more thing to keep in mind: The cozy porch on Pour’s gingerbread Gothic makes it a cigar-friendly bar.
2098 Boston Post Rd, Larchmont
(914) 834-9463; vintage1891.com
This urbane, adult alternative to dark, beery taverns offers a serious wine list and a well-heeled wine-geek vibe. Don’t be surprised when someone in the crowd orders a $60 glass of Barolo, tapped from this bar’s front-and-center Cruvinet system.
Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar
18 W Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT
(203) 983-6400; barcelonawinebar.com/greenwich.htm
This Connecticut-based, seven-outlet Spanish restaurant is a popular tapas and dinner spot and recently opened a new outpost in far-flung Atlanta. Barcelona’s secret weapon comes out only at night. Its packed bar scene showcases the work of Iberia-loving wine wiz, Wine & Spirits Director Gretchen Thomas. Best of all, her crack team is skilled in making recommendations—you’ll feel your wine knowledge expanded.
The Gnarly Vine
501 E Main St, New Rochelle
(914) 355-2541; thegnarlyvine.com
This affable, dressed-down wine bar is cheery, with a well-informed bar staff ready to make suggestions from a rotating list of lesser-known wines. Look for inexpensive picks, craft beers in bottles, trivia nights, and live music—it’s a New Rochelle standard, great for any night of the week.
63 Main St, Irvington
Think of enotecas as the discotheques of wine: they’re spinning your favorite platters all night long. This buzzy little restaurant does double duty as a wine bar—even its waiters proudly wear shirts advising, “Save Water…Drink Wine.” All of Mima’s wines are available by the bottle or in “mezzo” (3 oz) or “quartino” (6 oz) pours, with some picks available in half-bottles—it’s a great bar for drinking around.
25 S Regent St, Port Chester
A vast wine list and buzzy bar scene make Arrosto an ideal spot for drinks. Look for Italian craft beers, cocktails like the Capri Cola (Averna, Luxardo Maraschino Originale, lime juice, Prosecco), and miles of Italo-centric bottle picks ranging from a cheap and cheerful $28 to a bankrupting $495.
12 N Division St, Peekskill
Part wine bar, part restaurant, part music venue, 12 Grapes offers the opportunity to sip from 12 whites and 12 reds—all reasonably priced and available by the bottle. Look for tribute bands, open-mic nights, and musicians with strong local followings, like resident balladeer Steve Chizmadia.
New and Noteworthy
Crush Wine Bar
1985 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
(914) 834-6600; crushwinebars.com
Purple-walled and cozy, this clubby little wine bar opened March 7 with a roomy, by-the-glass list grouped by flavor intensity. Look for bottled beer, specialty cocktails, and wines-by-the-bottle, too—and this lady-friendly nightspot also offers a short but tasty tapas menu.
According to Stephen Paul Mancini, Restaurant North’s co-owner (and noted cocktail geek), the Grazie Maria is named to honor Maria Scala, who, in 1845, invented the secret recipe for Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit of grape alcohol flavored with more than 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, and saffron. Scala’s name became Branca through marriage, and the product’s name was born. Branca Menta is the “mint alternative” to trendy Fernet Branca. Old Tom Gin is another history-based libation. Peaking in popularity in the early 1800s, the sometimes slightly-amber Old Tom differs from modernity’s standard “London dry” gin in that its style stresses different botanical flavorings. Plus, it’s lightly barrel-aged and sweetened.
Mancini recommends his cocktail to negroni drinkers. “It’s sharp and flavorful, and made in a classic cocktail style; it’s a firm drink, but amazing!”
2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth (any blanc vermouth can be used, but Dolin is preferred)
1 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (if you can’t find an Old Tom gin, use Plymouth Gin and then add ½ oz simple syrup to the
½ oz Branca Menta
Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and stir intensely. (You know when to stop stirring when the outside of a metal martini shaker has frost on it.) Once you are confident that all ingredients are well mixed, strain into a martini glass. Garnish the drink with a grapefruit twist: twist it over the drink and drag it along the rim of the glass before dropping it into the finished cocktail. This step is often overlooked; the essential citrus oils in the grapefruit rind add a depth of flavor to the cocktail when done right.
4 Sure-Fire Ways to Feel Good
64 Main St, Tuckahoe
This brand-new Tuckahoe hot spot from Chef Rafael Palomino and his longtime GM at Sonora, Alexander Vanegas, dares to unite the undeniable pleasures of classic Spanish tapas with the charms of Latino cocktails. Sure, you could get a margarita, but why bother when you can get a Chupacabra? Named for a mythic South/Central American blood-drinker, it offers tequila, lime, cucumber, mint, and Tapatio Hot Sauce.
Wood: Cask-Aged Manhattan
Village Social Kitchen & Bar
251 E Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 241-6260; villagesocialkb.com
Wood is the way, according to Village Social mixologist and General Manager Sean Maloney. He’s got two cask-aged cocktails mellowing behind the buzzy Mount Kisco restaurant’s bar as we speak. There’s a Manhattan made with Michter’s Rye, Carpano Antica, and Cherry Heering that Maloney finishes before serving with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters. According to Maloney, six months of aging makes this brawny drink velvety smooth, while the oak imparts a subtle, almost-toasty character. For those who are less inclined toward brown, there’s Maloney’s Soul Power: Hendrick’s Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, poire William, and Crème Yvette, a 19th-century liqueur made from violet petals, strawberries, blackberries, and other flavorings. Once decanted, the Soul Power gets some crispness from Fever-Tree’s tonic water, and a bit more fruit from Fee Brothers Plum Bitters. According to Maloney, the result is “floral and slightly medicinal” (in a good way).
Leather: Smoky Cholula
1 Willett Ave, Port Chester
(914) 937-8226; bartaco.com
Wine & Spirits Director Gretchen Thomas is Barcelona Restaurant Group’s beautiful and talented wunderkind. She’s responsible for the killer Spanish wine list that’s won Barcelona countless oenophilic admirers. Last year, Thomas turned her hand to mixology, and it’s no surprise that the results were magical. Our favorite sipper from the Group’s bartaco is the leathery Smoky Cholula: Sombra mezcal, guava nectar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. We’re big fans, but if bartaco’s buzzy noise and crowd don’t move you, you can usually take your Smoky Cholula outside on the deck and drink it, warmed by fire pits overlooking the sleepy Byram.
Harvest on Hudson
1 River St, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-2800; harvest2000.com
For a drinks spot, Harvest is as lush as it gets. The restaurant’s dense herb and vegetable plantings make for outdoor lounging nooks, while a long wraparound patio yields plenty of riverside room for drinkers. In fine weather, look for throngs inside and out, and a long, Mediterranean-based wine list, plus perfectly on-season cocktails like the Patrónita: Patrón Reposado, VeeV Açaí Spirit, fresh lime juice, jalapeño, and cilantro.