Photography by Rob Penner
Looking for a way to wind down at the end of the day? A sophisticated spot to savor a ruby-red Merlot with your partner or chat with friends over a cotton candy Cosmo? No longer simply loud singles’ enclaves offering $2 beer specials and a bowl of nuts, today’s upscale bars are more about small plates and gourmet offerings; lounge atmospheres that beckon with inviting plush sofas (and, often, live music); effortless bartender banter (big hellos to Todd at Croton Creek Steakhouse and Pete at Morton’s); and deals that can stretch into meals. Here, our list of fine wining and dining, happy-hour style.
221 Main St, White Plains
Happy Hour daily, 5 to 7 pm
Walk through the elegant entryway of the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, and the well-appointed hallways to BLT (or enter via the street) to find your happy-hour respite: a long wood bar and comfy beige sofas offering the perfect escape after a long day (or week) at the office. While smooth ’70s music plays over the speakers, grab a seat at the bar (note: these are upholstered seats, not stools) where, from 5 to 7 pm daily, you can enjoy the “5 at 5” menu, on which everything (including the drinks) is $5. Munch on a Kobe beef hot dog with spicy mustard, sesame-crusted asparagus with Meyer lemon dipping sauce, or steak tartare with olive cornichon mayo on sourdough toast while sipping a blackberry Margarita. There’s also a long list of wines and beers by-the-glass. Being of a certain age, with a host of wrinkles, I can’t help but say it’s worth drinking to!
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills
Wednesday to Sunday, 5 to 10 pm
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is one of the most elegant settings in the county for quiet conversation and farm-to-table food. And while there is no happy hour, per se, a drink at the bar gives you the same exhilarating Blue Hill experience without the formality (no ties and jackets preferred at the bar). Sink into one of the deeply cushioned sofas and you might just find yourself turning into a regular. The thoughtful wine and beer list (from local breweries) and spot-on, knowledgeable service make you feel pampered and privileged, no matter how much (or little) you order. The food, needless to say, is the real star of the show, and so gorgeously displayed, you can’t help but marvel before taking a bite. Depending on the time of year (everything is seasonal), you might find a snack menu featuring local cheeses, beet and almond burgers, venison liver terrine, and drink specials that include a black currant Cosmo (citrus vodka, Triple Sec, black currant juice); an elderflower royal (cana, elderflower liqueur); a rhubarb Cosmo (citron vodka, fresh rhubarb, triple sec, fresh lime), or a sorrel margarita (sauza tequila, Triple Sec, fresh sorrel juice, lime juice, salt rim). It’s always a surprise and always delightful.
1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains
Happy Hour Tuesday to Saturday, 5 to 6:30 pm
We’re pretty sure almost everything tastes better 42 stories above ground, but, truth be told, the drinks and small plates at 42 would no doubt be just as good if they were served on street level. Welcome to Chef Anthony Goncalves’s take on lavish lounging with a dimly lit den of a bar bathed in red beams of neon, complimented by the twinkling lights of the city below. For those looking for window seats with their drinks, there’s an assortment of chairs, sofas, and tables separate from the bar. Sip on a passion fruit mojito (cachaça, mint); Coming Up Roses (Bacardi Razz, Brut Champagne, rose water); or a White Plains (Maker’s Mark, Cointreau, St. Germain) while trying to decipher which building is which from your lofty perch. Sample something from the small-plates menu like the smoked boquerones or the eggplant caponata with olive oil and crusty bread or go for the $1 oysters. During happy hour, all specialty cocktails are $7, with half-price beers and cellar selections wines. Goncalves says his goal is to “give people the chance to come up and experience how different it is up here without committing to dinner.” Feeling like a tourist in your own town is always fun, which is why we advise spending plenty of time here, especially come long summer days and late sunsets.
1 River St, Hastings
Happy Hour Thursday, 7 to 10 pm
Perched on the Hudson’s edge, Harvest tempts with its water views, a sophisticated cocktail menu, an impressive wine list, and a Tuscan farmhouse ambience. One can only guess that it’s the proximity to the river that inspired the managers behind the restaurant’s happy hour to dub Thursday nights “Adult Swim.” This is when the bar turns into a lounge complete with muted lights and live music, creating an instant am-I-already-intoxicated vibe. There are no TVs in sight, so all you hear are the sounds of old-time jazz, modern Cuban, or salsa (often performed by Grammy-winning musicians). The music rotates—check the website for what’s on tap. Order a Cuba Libre or sangria (all cocktails are $5 from 7 to 10 pm) and enjoy the bartender’s affable conversation and the pure adult ambience. Whether you settle into a table, sidle up to the chef’s bar that overlooks the kitchen, or slip onto the terrace for outdoor seating, you’re sure to be well fed, well cared for, and, dare we say, singing a tune.
ADULTS ONLY: During Harvest-on-Hudson’s “Adult Swim” happy hours, live music helps create a lounge atmosphere, and you can enjoy snacks and $5 cocktail specials.
16 Depot Sq, Tuckahoe
Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 4 to 7 pm
Westchester is full of pubs, but, this one, termed a gastropub, is a step above. The polished, dark wood. The marble bar. The soaring ceilings. The tomato-red walls. The secluded booths. Plus, the free-flowing list of beers including wheat-style, fruit-style, bitter ales, brown ales, lagers, and Belgian-style, not to mention the long list of those on tap. And we haven’t even talked yet about the premium cocktails including a Buffalo Dandy (Buffalo Trace Bourbo, Duvet Red, Triple Sec, and Bitters) or the Tap House house-made gin and tonic, as well as the 16 wines-by-the-glass. There are plenty of different rooms here in which to imbibe and dine: the front tap room, a mezzanine level, and a cozy room with roaring fireplace, but we’re most happy sitting at the long bar, listening to conversations and the absorbing the buzz. Thanks to the addition of Chef Kevin Bertrand from Crabtree’s Kittle House a few months ago, we find the food just as thrilling as the ambience: standout appetizers include the sliders (half-priced during happy hour), the mussels, and the warm goat-cheese-and-artichoke dip.
20 Central Ave, Hartsdale
Ladies’ Night Wednesday; Happy Hour Thursday and Friday, 5 to 7 pm
The first thing you notice upon entering Caffé Azzurri is the high-vaulted wood ceiling, huge chandelier, muted patterned sofas, and large black coffee table, all of which invite you to linger pre- or post-dinner. The allure of the year-old space (the former Piave, and, prior to that, Cafe Mezé) can, in part, be attributed to the dim blue-gray lighting and the living-room ambience. Yes, there’s a nice bar up front where Richie the bartender can mix up anything and everything, but, for those seeking quiet conversation in a room that feels like a warm mountain lodge (but where you don’t have to serve or wash dishes), it’s simply heaven. Not to mention a good deal: drinks and appetizers in the bar and lounge are half-price on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 5 to 7 pm. The restaurant features more than 20 wines by-the-glass along with a host of small plates including a long list of antipasti, an extensive raw bar, and overflowing salads that feel like meals.
Croton Creek Steakhouse
4 W Cross St, Croton Falls
Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 pm; including “late-night lunch” from 10 pm to 1 am Friday and Saturday
You gotta love a place that (a) has a bar completely separate from the dining room and (b) offers a warm feeling of coziness from the get-go. Step through the door and you instantly feel at home—albeit a home with a full bar of 22 wines by-the-glass (among rotating beers on tap) and a menu of hearty steaks. The sense of comfort is created organically through personal touches including a warm entryway greeting by owner and proprietor Jim Stake and his partner, Liam Harvey. The restaurant manages to be many things all at once—a jovial neighborhood spot, a fabulous special-occasion eatery, and a happy-hour (they call it “social hour”) destination where live piano music is played (starting at 8:30 pm) Thursday through Saturday, inviting you to plant yourself in the snug lounge area. Don’t be surprised if Stake, the personable owner, sidles up to you sofa-side to share suggestions on the menu (try the farmhouse cheese fondue or the skirt steak with one of a host of sauces) or serves up stories about the entertainment biz (he’s a former soap star). Bartenders there will whip you up a three-berry Cosmo, and you’ll soon be sharing tales of your own.
175 Main St, White Plains
Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 4 to 7 pm
A roster of interesting tapas, a convivial and festive interior, and, best of all—the ever-popular cava poured directly from pitcher to mouth in a Portuguese pitcher known as a porrón—make happy hour here a blast, the closest thing to big-city ambience. The attraction is also about the eats, which range from the simplicity of cured Spanish meats to big-bang items like baby pork sliders, pan-seared fluke, and shrimp empanadas. It’s all good, especially paired with a variety of Spanish flatbreads, and a sweet South American wine. Quite simply, Peniche has panache, with a joyful air that lasts throughout the week. On Monday, Thursday, and Friday, enjoy $3 draft beers and $5 wings from 4 to 7 pm; on Tuesday, it’s two-for-one sangrias; Wednesday is cheese-and-wine night, meaning a flight of five wines (two-ounce pours) are $15; for $10 more you get five cheese pairings. Opt for the dining room on Thursday (ladies’ night), when female parties of four or more can get a free pitcher of sangria.
Marc Charles Steakhouse
94 Business Park Dr, Armonk
Ladies’ Night the second Thursday of each month, 8 to 10 pm
In spite of its off-the-beaten-track location (tucked into an Armonk office park in the La Quinta Hotel), the MC Lounge at the Marc Charles Steakhouse is inviting and accommodating. Perch on a stool at the handsome bar for a draft tasting flight (you’ll find a range of interesting and revolving drafts like Goose Island Honker’s Ale, Ithaca Nut Brown, and Sly Fox Pale Ale) or recline endlessly on an overstuffed sofa in the lounge area for a creative cocktail (also ever-changing, but ask for the pomegranate, Absolut citron, pomegranate juice, and Triple Sec or the caramel-apple Stoli vanilla, butterscotch schnapps, Apple Pucker, and cranberry juice). There’s also the option of sitting at a table and enjoying a glass from the wine list along with appetizers like asparagus fries or fried calamari. The second Thursday of every month is ladies’ night when, from 8 to 10 pm, you can buy one drink and get the other one free. There are even prizes!
19 Main St, Hastings-on-Hudson
Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 5 to 7 pm
There’s something very calming and zen-like at newcomer Rainwater Grill with its cascading waterfall behind the bar. Whether you’re drinking at one of the slouchy sofa set-ups towards the front, or at the many seats that frame the bar, you’ll have a hard time deciding between the long list of pastel-colored Martinis. Should you try the Fruity Pebbles (Bacardi Dragon Berry, OJ, strawberry purée, crème, and Grenadine); Rocket to Mars (Stoli Orange, vanilla schnapps, and a splash of Tang); or Bazooka Joe (Blue Curacao, Bailey’s, and crème de banana)? Or should you simply go with what’s on tap paired with the array of sliders (beef, ranch chicken, buffalo chicken, meatball Parmesan, and Caprese)? The best advice is to keep an open tab: $4 imports and $5 mixed drinks Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 pm.
Route 100 Wine Bar & Grill
2211 Central Ave, Yonkers
Happy Hour daily, 4 to 7 pm
Don’t let the strip-mall location near a Chinese take-out fool you: Route 100, named for the street it’s on, is a pleasant surprise. It could be the list of signature drinks and affordable prices, including more than 120 labels of South American wines, or it could be the free
nibbles offered every night from 4 to 7 pm. A decent-sized assortment of olive tapanada, chicken strips, jalapeño pepper, and fried zucchini sticks make a nice accompaniment to your $3 beer or $5 domestic wines and mixed drinks. Sit at the bar or at one of the small tables where you can talk (and hear) each other. Owned by Norbeto Avila, whose brother owns Tango Grill in White Plains, the 2-year-old spot has the same classy vibe, with an attentive collection of entrées. You may come for the happy hour, but you should stay for the food. Try the Thai shrimp, the jambalaya, or the chicken al balsamic, expertly prepared with quality ingredients and served with artistic flair. Or opt to get it to go and you can enjoy 20 percent off. Just another reason to come back.
Morton’s, the Steakhouse
9 Maple Ave, White Plains
Happy Hour daily, 5 to 6:30 pm and 9 pm to closing
It’s not happy hour, but “Power Hour” at Morton’s, where, from 5 to 6:30 pm daily, bar bites are $6 and include blue-cheese French fries, iceberg wedge bites, mini cheeseburgers, and miniature crab cakes, along with $4 beers, $5 wines, and $7 “Mortinis” and Mojitos. (Try the potent Power Hour Palm Beacher, made with pineapple-infused vodka.) The wines by-the-glass come in generous pours ideal for sitting, sipping, and swirling. Despite the fact that Morton’s is a chain, its bar area has a rarified Old World atmosphere akin to that of a New York supper club. (The fact that bartenders all wear uniforms—tan vests, white shirts, black pants—adds a nice touch à la Mad Men.) On any given night, you can find a couple dressed to the nines waiting for a table in the dining room, or a group of friends in jeans catching up at one of the high tables that flank either side of the bar. The best part? Power Hour at this retro haven starts up again from 9 pm until closing.
Larchmont-based writer Jeanne Muchnick admits she’s been hooked on happy hours ever since her days as a struggling editorial assistant in New York City when “happy hour” also meant “dinner.”