We love premium cocktails and upscale venues as much as anyone. But sometimes you just want a beer. No frills. No hoity-toity bartender hovering over you expounding on the particular nuances of this hop or that malt. Just. A. Beer. (And maybe a burger.) At The Craftsman Ale House in Harrison, they do beer and burgers, and they do it well. Bellied up to the bar, we gorged on nachos (having been already well acquainted with their juicy, well-topped burgers) and ticked off beers from the bar’s fairly extensive collection (think small craft brewers like Abita Brewing Company, Ithaca Beer Company, and Flying Dog Brewery). Selection aside, what really separates Craftsman from other area bars is the atmosphere. It’s a casual, feel-like-you-know-everyone type of place you look forward to going to, especially after a long day at work. Friendly waitresses buzzed between the bar area and separate dining room, attentive bartenders let us sample beers until we finally made up our minds, approachable patrons struck up conversations with us. Everyone just seemed to have a laidback vibe, which is certainly conducive to drinking a cold one.
In Port Chester, Coals also provides a no-frills hangout that just so happens to feature some of the best craft brews around, coupled with one of the best pizzas you’ll find in the County. We stopped in after a few other misfires in the area—expecting nothing more than a quick bite to eat. We were immediately impressed with the classic, lighted Colt 45 ad featuring Billy Dee Williams that hung above the bar. Kudos for that, Coals. The chalkboard behind the bar is filled with about 10 ever-changing options of craft beers from around the country. And yeah, micro-brews are great, but while you’re there, you must get a pizza. We opted for the Must Have, which was crisped to perfection, a great salty foil to the beer. Pizza. Beer. Billy Dee Williams. Enough said.
A few days later, while wandering around Ossining, we thought the only bars we’d find would be on the windows at Sing Sing (sorry). That is, until we happened upon Keenan House Kitchen & Tap Room, which, like Coals, doesn’t offer much of a bar space. We crammed in, and were surprised by the long list of high-quality craft beers available. The environment was friendly and laidback—strangers at the bar, who bonded over beer choices, eventually launched into a conversation about career choices—but still felt upscale, with a glossy bar, Edison-style lights, and what looked like reclaimed wood paneling. Keenan offers 12 beers on tap and more than 70 bottles, so you’ll have a hard time choosing something to drink. But you won’t mind taking that extra time to decide, since you’ll feel like you’re sitting among longtime friends.