(212) 673-2467, NYC
Not often do the words “chic” and “sports bar” appear in the same sentence, but Ainsworth Park, at the center of the Gramercy/Union Square area, pulls it off. While there are 65 flat screens the interior design is impeccable with expansive, artfully curved wood ceilings, comfy brown leather seating and dramatic chandeliers. Here a bucket of beer feels just as right as a classy cocktail, like The Park Avenue, a blend of Nolet gin, pimms, lemonade and ginger ale. It is a sports bar, though; expect crowds and an ear-jarringly loud experience.
(516) 882-9688, Massapequa
Ginza grabs your attention before you even walk into the door. The building, inspired by eateries in the most fashionable section of Tokyo, is a striking sea of mirrored glass with instantly recognizable Japanese architectural details. Inside are sparkly adornments and monolithic statues and standard seating, but sitting up straight is boring—chill in the lounge on red leather seating or cozy, oval pods dangling from the ceiling. The big combo here is the lauded sushi menu and drinks. The menu is rife with wines and spirits, but it’s the sake and creative cocktails that draw the crowds. Across the glowing granite bar, experience the range of possibilities with the Sake Flight, a selection of Junmai, ginjo, dai-ginjo, unfiltered and plum. Or get wild and order the Aquamarine, a blend of Stoli Vanilla, Malibu rum, pineapple juice, sour mix and a splash of blue curaçao. Note that Ginza is a slice of modern Japan, if you’re looking for a traditional Japanese dining experience, walk on.
Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails
(516) 868-5338, Merrick
Go for the food (it’s definitely burger time here), stay for the beer and entertainment. Left Coast is run by a California transplant/New York native couple and that Cali vibe permeates. The dinner menu is an adventure in its own right, but for a night out, gravitate to the craft beer menu, which has something for every taste. For the uninitiated, each flavor profile is extensively described. Different beers are thrown into the rotation regularly, so repeat visits won’t turn into a predictable retread, but bear in mind that craft beer generally has more alcohol than the mainstream stuff, so plan accordingly.
The Surf Lodge
(631) 668-1562, Montauk
It’s summer in Montauk on Fort Pond. That’s all you need to know. The outdoor vibe rightly steals the show here and their backyard draws the typical lively Hamptons party crowd, for better or worse. The firepit nestled in sand and the projection screens showing surf videos may draw attention, but Mother Nature will definitely steal the show: Nothing beats watching the sun set over glassy water. Add a beverage and the moment is perfect. There’s live music for every taste during prime season, from singer/songwriters to reggae acts, and a DJ if dancing is more your speed. Claustrophobics need not apply when it’s really bumping—the crowds get pretty tight.