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.