Is it a cocktail lounge or an auto repair shop? A watering hole or a bona fide live music spot? With ambiguous names and — in some cases — intentionally hard-to-find exteriors, the latest crop of nightspots seems to be banking on intrigue and word-of-mouth to bring in patrons.
Consider yourself in-the-know.
WHEN | WHERE After 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays at 30 New St., Huntington
INFO 631-271-2467, psandqsautobody.com
THE SCENE Trendy lounge, hidden in plain sight
Never mind the signage that makes the building appear to be an auto service station — there's a Prohibition-era speakeasy behind those glass windows. That's courtesy of a televised makeover orchestrated by Spike's "Bar Rescue." Retro furniture and antique memorabilia add to the authenticity, with the mood further set by DJs and — on certain nights — acoustic musicians. Yes, you can order wine or beer and curl into a leather sofa, but a better bet is a signature cocktail ($12.25) such as the Bee's Knees (gin, honey and lemon juice) or the 21st Amendment (rum, pineapple juice, grenadine and orange liqueur).
CHIC LATE-NIGHT DRINKS
WHEN | WHERE After 10 p.m. daily at 279 Main St., Huntington
INFO 631-824-6222, imcrestaurant.com
THE SCENE Chic appeal, feel free not to dance
A chef-driven restaurant at its core, IMC is striving to draw a mature nightlife crowd, its management says. It looks the part, what with a glam hot pink-purple glow and pulsing house music akin to what you'd find at a contemporary art exhibition or fashion show. Cool touch: wine bottles tucked behind glass encasements in the floor. "This place looks great for a date . . . very classy," says Huntington resident Jennifer Ravell, a forty-something stylist there for one of the venue's first nights of business.
3. Brix and Rye
WHEN | WHERE After 5 p.m. daily at 308A Main St., Greenport
THE SCENE Casual wine bar-pub with a vintage feel
Look for the small logo on the storefront door next to 1943 Pizza Bar. There lies Brix and Rye (shortened to "B.A.R.," get it?), another mostly out-of-sight nightspot. The street-level lobby has old wood floors, a vintage (working) shuffleboard table, burning candles and a few ancient lithographs. Head down a flight of stairs to the main room, a slender space serving libations ranging from craft beers and local wine to inventive cocktails. Hungry? Patrons can order in food from the neighboring pizza shop until 10 p.m.
NEW LIVE MUSIC SPOT
4. The Arden
WHEN | WHERE After 9 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays at 201 Main St., Port Jefferson
INFO 631-828-1111, theardenportjeff.com
THE SCENE Bar-restaurant with a great view — and a surprising live music roster
Situated atop a full staircase, The Arden is a restaurant that segues into a bar scene after the dinner crowd rolls out. Among the appeals: A stellar view of the lively village scene. The bigger draw may well be the entertainment, overseen by Paul Mahos, lead singer of the Long Island band New Life Crisis (yes, the band will play there on occasion). Big Shot frontman Mike DelGuidice is scheduled for sets most Wednesday nights until the end of the year.
SPINOFF BEER GARDEN
WHEN | WHERE noon-4 a.m. daily at 273 Main St., Farmingdale
INFO 516-586-6560, darkhorsefdale.com
THE SCENE Craft brews — and a beer garden
Much like the original in Rockville Centre, the Dark Horse Tavern's new eastern outpost has a simple formula: serve interesting beer (several craft options are kept on tap) and tasty wings with a choice of 20 sauces (sriracha garlic, anyone?) in an attitude-free environment. There's a fully fenced, open-air courtyard out back and a full bar inside, both equipped with large TV screens that make it easy for patrons to keep tabs on big sports events.