Boomers and xennials, friends and lovers, dentists and dancers — each one, whether they admit it or not, relishes the warm-weather ritual of a cold beverage proffered in the sunshine and salty breeze of a summer day. Alfresco drinking (and eating) is a seasonal rite of passage on Long Island, where hundreds of miles of coastline mean a surfeit of outdoor bars. Do such places dwell in landlocked towns and villages, too? They do.
Here are some of our choices for outdoor bars on Long Island, from nearly 30-year-old veteran spots to a faux island paradise to a brand-new hangout on the Gold Coast.
Dockers Waterside Restaurant & Marina
Dockers Waterside Restaurant & Marina (94 Dune Rd. East Quogue): It seems like it was eons ago when friends started flashing snapshots of quasi-debaucherous Sunday afternoons at Dockers. Turns out, it may have been eons: This waterfront playground has been a summer rite-of-passage for 29 years, feeding both walk-ins and boat-ins with plenty of seafood (oysters, steamed lobsters, swordfish Milanese) and watering them, too, with strawberry-basil palomas and beer. You literally can’t escape a water view here, nor the repose that comes with it. Hours: Opens daily at noon, April to October. More info: 631-653-0653, dockerswaterside.com
Dublin Deck Tiki Bar and Grill
Dublin Deck Tiki Bar and Grill (325 River Ave. Patchogue): There are few sanctuaries from the breakneck pace of life here as wholly immersive as Dublin Deck, a massive, breezeswept, island-esque complex along the Patchogue River. What began years ago as a place called the Leaky Tiki is now a sprawling waterfront playground of palm trees, outdoor bars, beach volleyball and space to wander. Each element, from bobbing boats to live music to frozen daiquiris and pots of steamed clams, can inspire deep relaxation — except, maybe, when the crowd gets rowdy on weekend nights. Go earlier in the day for a mellower time of unexpectedly good seafood (including a raw bar) and waterfront beers under the Polynesian-style thatched roof.Hours: Opens daily at 11 a.m. More info: 631-207-0370, dublindeck.com
The Lazy Lobster
The Lazy Lobster (10 Front St., East Rockaway): Oh, Lazy Lobster, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Your food truck serves up four different lobster rolls, including a version poached in warm butter. Your grouper tacos are to die for, too, and no one will breathe down my neck as I linger at a picnic table in the beer garden with too much food, slowly draining a cup of frosé while gazing at the Mill River. The cherry on top: an outdoor bar housed in former shipping containers, side windows thrown open for a second round. Hours: Opens daily at noon. More info: 516-837-8484, lazylobsterny.com
The Refuge Food & Spirits
The Refuge Food & Spirits (515 Broadhollow Rd., Melville): Smack in the middle of Melville’s multiple corporate office parks, The Refuge draws a stream of well-turned-out office warriors decompressing post-workday. In the summer, they congregate in the spacious outdoor bar, with a mix of seating (standing counters, low tables, banquettes) for sipping oversized, crowd-pleasing cocktails such as martinis with muddled raspberries and Arnold Palmers spiked with peach vodka. The food menu bears a high quotient of vegan noshes (think seitan tacos), but also easily shareable plates such as pizzas, agave-rubbed wings and the iconic flaming cheese, a lava of four cheeses flambéed tableside and delivered with garlic knots and tortilla chips. Hours: Outdoor bar opens daily in the afternoon, based on weather conditions. More info:631-577-4444, refuge110.com
Fatfish on the Water
Fatfish on the Water (28 Cottage Ave., Bay Shore): Fifteen years after opening along the Great South Bay, Fatfish doesn’t rest on its laurels; chef-owner Brian Valdini changes up the menu and décor regularly, even if Fatfish’s sweeping bay views would make this a magnet regardless of looks and food. Watermelon mojitos, sangria and a well-curated wine list — plus plenty of beer — draw a constant and levelheaded crowd to the bar, where live music goes down nightly in July (and on weekends during the rest of the season). Plenty of small plates and tapas, such as crudo, beer-battered shrimp, flatbreads and a robust raw bar, seem ready-made to support afternoon hangout sessions. If the bar gets too frenetic, grab a table on a deck that seems to float over the Great South Bay and watch the ferries glide to and from Fire Island. Hours: Opens daily at 11:30 a.m. (noon on Sunday) late March to October. More info: 631-666-2899, fatfish.info
Cowfish(258 E. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays): Finding Cowfish is slightly tricky: You hook around a fish market to find the marina and hilltop that Cowfish calls home. Its architecturally striking outdoor bar seems to soar above a marina, and drinks such as a home wrecker (vodka, ginger liqueur, muddled cucumber, sour mix and ginger ale) combine with sweeping views of the water to draw you to a mellower version of yourself. A well-heeled crowd noshes on sushi rolls, salads, chowder and oysters Hampton (sage-fried oysters with garlic aioli, spinach and sriracha) while the more restless play games of cornhole on the manicured lawn. When a change of scene seems prudent, hop on Cowfish’s Rumbarge for the seven-minute ride to its nearby sister restaurant, Rumba. Hours: Opens daily at noon, 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. More info: 631-594-3868. cowfishrestaurant.com
Kasey’s Kitchen & Cocktails
Kasey’s Kitchen & Cocktails (23 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre): In an epoch of restaurants dubbed “kitchen and cocktails,” you’ll want to travel far from the kitchen (at least during the warm weather) for Kasey’s signature experience: a rooftop bar called Rooftop 32. Your glutes will get a workout climbing three flights of stairs to get there, but the rewards are plenty, from rooftop views over Rockville Centre to a robust selection of Scotch and cocktails such as Bubba Gump punch (Jim Beam, watermelon schnapps, lemonade, pineapple and grenadine). The patio is expansive and the food rota meets everyone half way: Dependable pub standards such as crisp calamari, baked clams and lollipop-style lamb chops join tacos, pizzettes and paleo-friendly dishes such as seared scallops over lentils and spinach in a Champagne sauce. As the hours wear on, the scene gets. . . spirited. Just be careful going back down those stairs. Hours: Rooftop bar opens daily at 4 p.m. More info: 516-766-5049, kaseysrvcny.com
Cooper Bluff (Oyster Bay Marine Center, 5 Bay Ave., Oyster Bay): For a town with a nautical name, Oyster Bay is seriously lacking in waterfront bars. This summer, the owners of nearby Coach Grill remedied that by opening a mellow spot along the bay — one you can either drive or boat to — at the back of the Oyster Bay Marine Center. Cooper Bluff is comprised of a small outdoor bar, plus whitewashed picnic tables and high-top tables under strings of lights (and soon, sail sunshades), all of it done up in a beachy, crisp style that is bound to make it a hangout for the boating set. Tiki drinks, frozen cocktails and well-chosen wines and beers provide liquid sustenance; come later this month, a Coach Grill food truck will dish out vittles such as lobster rolls, clams oreganata and oysters. Hours: Opens 4 p.m. Thursday and Fridays, noon on Saturdays and Sundays. More info: 516-296-8485, cooperbluff.com