When the temperature goes down, the firepits heat up — particularly in outdoor courtyards at restaurants and hotels all over Long Island.
“I think it feels great, having drinks by the fire,” says Mattituck resident Dan Busch, 40, as he and a couple of friends move from the bar inside the American Beech hotel in Greenport—late on a Saturday in early November—out to the log-burning fire place on the hotel's patio.
On this night, it's about 40 degrees, made much cozier closer to the flickering orange flames on the dimly lit patio.
“Sometimes I think it’s a Long Island thing,” says Busch, where it seems like the weather is milder and people like to be outdoors all the time. “My friends and I love to get next to a fire whenever we can.”
American Beech is one of several spots to consider when looking to get out next to a fire pit:
Il Giardino (739 Main Rd., Aquebogue): This is the kind of place that makes the North Fork so special -- a restaurant located in a house-like structure with wooden floors and dim lights. It's cozy, romantic and has a menu of southern Italian food. Out back, there's a secluded courtyard with a brick patio and a circular pit where people often go to wait for their dinner table to be ready. This fire-pit isn't really intended to eat a meal around, but take a glass of wine out back on a clear night and you'll see stars on top of stars. More info: 631-779-3900, ilgiardinoaquebogue.com
Maxwell's (501 Main St., Islip): The busy casual pub and restaurant has a walled-off patio with a firepit the welcomes people to take a seat to ward off the late autumn chill. If you're going to munch around the fire, Maxell's "social plate" menu has loaded tots, nachos, pretzel flights and other bites besides a full roser of beer, wine and drinks. More info: 631-210-0011, lessings.com
Gurney's Montauk (290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk): It's hard to top the scenery near the deck of this classic hotel, restaurant and spa, as it's only a short walk from the Atlantic Ocean, which crashes and splashes in the background. The fire pit here is among the venue's most-recognized attractions and it burns all year. Positioned under dim Edison bulbs, summer and winter crowds alike surround the flames while chatting, dining and drinking. Off-season guests won't get the live bands and DJs of summer, but there's still good reason to venture out. This is the Hamptons, so sipping rosé or Champagne is always suitable--see if there's anything special being mixed over at the Regent Cocktail Club section of the hotel (which also happens to have a fine indoor fireplace as well). More info: 631-668-2345, gurneysinn.com
Off Key Tikki
Off Key Tikki (31 Baker Pl., Patchogue): The log-burning fire pit at this place along the Patchogue River sees action all year round. In the colder months, the live entertainment shifts indoors but many guests still find their way out to the raging flames for drinks and conversation while sitting in beach chairs. The pit here is a large stone ring and the flames get some nice height. If the pit's not lit when you get there, ask if it can be ignited for your group. This spot does tiki bar-proud fruity cocktails, but in the cold air, perhaps a coconut jalapeno margarita is the kind of beachy yet spicy beverage to try. More info: 631-475-1723, offkeytikki.com
Hotel Indigo (1830 West Main St., Riverhead): Patrons at the hotel's Bistro 72 restaurant are welcome to take their drinks out back to relax on pillowed patio furniture that's half-circled around a wood-burning fire pit as well as propane-powered triangular fire towers. The dishes here are really more appropriate for a dinner table--meat, fish and poultry--but smaller options such as fried pickles and wings or desserts (think brownies a la mode) would certainly work around the fire, especially if you're sharing. For a seasonal drink, sample the apple margarita recently added to the cocktail menu. More info: 631-369-2200, indigoeastend.com
Prime (117 New York Ave., Huntington): Talk about a perfect storm: Sushi, steak and seafood, plus sophisticated cocktails, wines and craft beer--and then there's the view of Huntington Harbor. Prime's fire pit is on the most elevated portion of the deck, making for a crowd-pleasing experience with friends on any given night. For a truly fireside experience, try a cognac or a whiskey, or perhaps a scotch or rye -- these kinds of drinks are best sipped, while lingering. More info: 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com
Broadway Market (643 Broadway, Rocky Point): This modern gastropub serves a menu of comfort foods, plus brunch. Out back, there's a stone-filled fire-pit to which guests can pull up a chair and feel the heat. If they're not sold out when you get there, grab one of the house-made apple pies--a few people with a few forks could easily demolish one of these popular offerings while soaking up some warmth. More info: 631-849-1729, bmropo.com