Bars

WINE BAR

Harvest Wine Bar

Photograph: Julie Bidwell

For the owners of Harvest, life is wine. This gorgeous restaurant (one in Greenwich, a second recently opened in Westport) is juicy with wine—some 300 options. If it started as a grape, it’s probably here, after passing the taste test of the experienced owners. While the restaurant is known for its wine bar, it does also serve delicious dishes.

372 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-869-4080
36 Railroad Pl., Westport, 203-221-0810
harvestwinebar.com


HAPPY HOUR

Washington Prime


Photograph: Tom McGovern

Wind down the day by raising the roof. Washington Prime, in historic and hip SoNo, is fun—and it all kicks off with happy hour every single day from 4 until 6 p.m. You can choose appetizers from the raw bar and swish it down with wine, beer or signature cocktails. You’re smiling already, aren’t you? Just imagine following it up with dinner, perhaps ahi tuna or chicken scarpiello, or, if you make a love connection at happy hour, a porterhouse for two?  (See also “Restaurant Bar.”)

141 Washington St., Norwalk, 203-857-1314; washingtonprimect.com


PUB

Tigín Irish Pub

If you want to make friends, cheer riotously for your team in the big match, and appreciate the unique hospitality of an authentic Irish pub, get yourself to Tigín in the heart of Stamford. We’re fairly sure it’s a magic portal to Dublin. One step inside, you’ll be ordering a Guinness and chips. Let the classic dishes, elevated to today’s standards, such as wild-caught North Atlantic cod or Shepherd’s Pie with a side of kale and barley salad. What’s the craic? Maybe trivia on Tuesdays, the game on Saturday, brunch on Sunday. This is destined to be your favorite gathering place.

175 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-353-8444; tiginirishpub.com/stamford


RESTAURANT BAR

Washington Prime

It seems that when Gold Coasters are parched for drinks and fun, they think of Washington Prime. The restaurant bar takes the gold for best happy hour, and returns for a second round to take the restaurant bar category. We credit the upscale environment, awesome friend-making opportunities and extensive wine, beer and cocktail list. Hot evening? Maybe a refreshing Cucumber Lemonita (Iceberg Cucumber Vodka, fresh lemonade, San Pellagrino Lemonata float). Bad day? Smooth out fist-making tension with a powerful Bourbon Smash (Old Forester Bourbon, lemon, mint and simple syrup). (See also “Happy Hour.”)

141 Washington St., Norwalk, 203-857-1314; washingtonprimect.com


SINGLES SCENE (UNDER 35)

Brother Jimmy’s

You know that old saying about meeting “the one” when you stop trying? Brother Jimmy’s was designed to help you do that. Stop wringing your hands about finding a partner and dig into the hot bar scene and napkin-drenching BBQ. This isn’t posh food, nor does it pretend to be—rather, it strips things down to unfussy hot wings, buffalo chicken sliders, nachos drenched in BBQ beans, cheese, sour cream and more. You’ll be having so much fun, you’ll look your best without even trying. Even if there isn’t a love match, you’ll fall for the charms of Southern-style ribs.

112 Bedford St., Stamford, 203-504-8123; brotherjimmys.com


SINGLES SCENE (OVER 35)

Spotted Horse Tavern


Photograph: Tom McGovern

We bet you’ll love Spotted Horse Tavern and find like-minded diners who agree  on qualities that make a good local tavern. That alone could set the stage for a spark between you and a certain someone across the central bar. Forget chasing; let the lucky in love find one another at an establishment that is lively, attractive, upscale yet not pretentious—as well as appreciates a well-made South Beach Royale (Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, fresh lime, pure cane syrup, Prosecco and basil) as much as its pan-seared diver scallops. Would you like to join us?

26-28 Church Ln., Westport, 203-557-9393; spottedhorsect.com


OUTDOOR BAR

Sign of the Whale

At Stamford’s only rooftop bar, you’ll have a vantage point from which to see the city. This 10,000-square-foot restaurant/bar/rooftop beer garden is breathtaking for the views, but order the “Tidal Wave” drink (Old Man’s Orange Potion, for one, is Smirnoff Orange Vodka, Triple Sec, OJ and Sprite) along with a serving of Ahi Tuna Tacos, and you’ll only have eyes for what’s on your table.

6 Harbor Point Rd., Stamford, 203-883-8282; signofthewhalect.com


SPORTS BAR

The Blind Rhino

A blind rhino is something we would normally avoid or call in a professional to handle. But The Blind Rhino, with caps, is a totally different animal—it’s a sports beast. If you love immersing yourself in the big game, head here and challenge yourself to watch all of the twenty-eight TVs. You will never miss a big play again. (See also “Big Game Day.”)

15 North Main St., Norwalk, 203-956-7243; theblindrhino.com


BIG GAME DAY

The Blind Rhino

The big game day should be all about fun, a chance to kick back and root for your team. The Blind Rhino sets the scene for just that perfect moment. In a laid-back atmosphere, order up wings, Rhino Sliders, maybe Mahi tacos to start; then if things are looking good on the TV (that is, your team is winning), stay for a Rodeo Burger (pepper Jack cheese, onion rings, buffalo BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun) with a thirst-quenching selection from the “Draft List,” including more than twenty beers on tap. Really, no one loses here.

15 North Main St., Norwalk, 203-956-7243; theblindrhino.com


GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT

Barcelona

When the girls head out to have fun, they’re looking for a big ol’ break from the everyday, so they head to Barcelona. Inside this restaurant and wine bar, they are given all of the creature comforts they need to blow off steam. Try new wines from Spain, share plate after plate of creative tapas, and talk too much and laugh too long. (See also “Tapas Menu.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-348-4800
4180 Black Rock Tpke., Fairfield, 203-255-0800
barcelonawinebar.com


BEER SELECTION

The Ginger Man

When you’re feeling decisive, head to The Ginger Man. You’ll have the daunting task of selecting from their menu of pale ales, lagers and stouts. Go heavy, go light, go classic or add some unexpected raspberry accents—it’s all at The Ginger Man. It’s earned a reputation as the go-to place for beer lovers who also like burgers and fries in an upscale though unstuffy vibe.

64 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, 203-861-6400; gingermanct.com


MICROBREW

Half Full Brewery

Something optimists and pessimists can agree on: Half Full Brewery can make any day better. It’s a good idea to learn, or at least appreciate, beer-speak. You’ll have a fine choice as well as a tasting room to pursue your research in the name of flavor. Check in to see what events are coming up around the bend—perhaps a food truck? This place was founded on a dream, took root during treks in South America, and reached new heights on travels throughout Europe. The full lesson: Life should be lived with passion. What makes you happy? We think you’ll discover it halfway through your pint. Cheers!

43 Homestead Ave, Stamford, 203-658-3631 halffullbrewery.com


MARARITAS

bartaco

We admit to loving bartaco, too, and not least of all for the margaritas. Born of the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay and southern California, bartaco feels right at home along our shores. Whether you go for a Bartaco Margarita or a mango version, you can expect it to be strong, fresh, sweet and salty, just like the wonderful attitude of the restaurant/bar. (Also see “Restaurant Bar.”)

222 Summer St., Stamford, 203-323-8226
20 Wilton Rd., Westport, 203-222-8226
bartaco.com


MARTINIS

Match

A good martini, some might argue, is the one right in front of you. Point taken. But when you sip on one at Match, your eyes will be opened to a world of flavor and snap. Of course, Match is well-known for its wines, “bubbles,” beers and cocktails; it’s just sometimes you enjoy challenging a mixologist to create, arguably, the perfect drink.

98 Washington St., South Norwalk, 203-852-1088; matchsono.com