So, you have a free night and wonder what you’re going to do. You are in luck. If it’s nightlife and entertainment you’re trying to fill your free hours with, there’s no shortage of suggestions from ShoreLine Times readers.
Whether you are alone, on a date or hanging out with a group of friends, we have compiled a list of suggestions from our readers’ poll. From stage productions to state-of-the-art movie theaters, live music and tasty cocktails, there is something for everyone.
Over the last 10 years, The Kate in Old Saybrook has offered live music, comedy, theater and film and a performing arts camp for kids. So, whether it is a weeknight or a weekend you are trying to fill, there are many to choose from at this cultural arts center.
"The Kate is here for everyone,” says The Kate’s Executive Director Brett Elliott.
“With an exciting blend of music, comedy, theater, film, and many other unique offerings, for 10 years we've continued to bring our patrons the very best in entertainment and education,” he adds.
The Kate shares the spotlight with Ivoryton Playhouse for best playhouse for live theater.
Just down the road in downtown Essex, The Griswold Inn boasts of offering “live music nightly, 363 1/2 days a year.” The Gris, as it is known by locals, shares this accolade with Westbrook’s Waters Edge and Branford’s Le Petit Café.
Joan Paul, co-owner/innkeeper at the Gris, is a member of the Paul Family who has owned and operated the Inn since 1995. The inn itself has been in continuous operation since 1776.
“Whether hoisting a few and belting out the words to a tune during Monday Night Sea Chanteys or the refrain from "Sweet Caroline" during Saturday night's sing-along, there is a sense of a special and shared experience,” says Paul.
“But we believe it's really more than the rotating menu of musicians: it's the way our Tap Room makes you feel,” she adds. “The interior has had virtually no renovations in over two centuries. It's time-worn look, with its original plaster-domed ceiling and shiplap walls displaying maritime prints hung cheek to jowl, is authentic and exudes a relaxed and convivial atmosphere and a comfortable link to the past.”
If live music is what you are craving check out the Westbrook’s Water Edge Resort & Spa, Ivoryton Tavern & Cafe or Branford’s Lenny’s Indian Head Inn.
Water’s Edge Seaview Bistro has a lineup that includes entertainment almost every weekend. Some of the stars scheduled include Connie Howard on Piano, Nick Fradiani, Sr., the Rahsaan Langley Project, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac and a tribute to Neil Diamond.
A bit to the East, in Madison, you will find what our readers consider the happiest happy hour and best cocktails at Moxie in downtown Madison.
Almost any day of the week the bar at Moxie is standing room only. The restaurant is located in a renovated historic house on Wall Street in Madison. It’s industrial meets garage, kind of boho chic with raw wood and exposed metal.
Most of the action is in the back, at a long concrete bar with a well thought out craft beer and cocktail list. In warm weather, a garage door opens onto a teak deck.
While the cocktails change with the seasons, the popular Chupacabra, made with Fidencio Joven Mezcal, jalapeno-infused simple syrup, “clockwork orange,” agave light, Moxie fresh sour, cilantro, crushed red pepper, is a mainstay.
All the cocktails have catchy names, for example Sweater Weather, with “bonesnapper” rye, spiced pear simple, “luxardo” cherry liqueur and orange bitters; Better Than Yoga, with espolon blanco, juiced cucumber, lime juice, basil and agave and Apricot Me Lookin’ with greenhook gin, lemon juice, apricot liqueur, honey simple and mint. These drinks all have one thing in common, they are all made with the freshest ingredients available.
Moxie has a unique twist to their happy hour. In addition to the typical, Tuesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., there is an additional happy hour bar menu on Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Moxie share the votes for happiest happy hour with Westbrook Lobster in Clinton and Liv’s Oyster in Old Saybrook.
For best cocktails, outside of Madison, our readers suggest sipping some libations at Chapter One in Guilford or Chip’s Pub in Clinton.
If you lads and lassies have a hankering for a touch of the Emerald Isle head on over to Tommy Sullivan’s Cafe say our readers, or maybe KC’s Restaurant & Pub in Guilford or Penny Lane in Old Saybrook.
If you think Irish pubs are supposed to look like Irish pubs, you’ll feel right at home at Tommy Sullivan’s. As Sullivan and his daughter Maeve point out, “We spent some time in Ireland and when we came back, we renovated the place to look more authentic.”
With Irish lace curtains gracing the windows, diners can enjoy perennial Irish favorites including Shepard’s Pie, with ground beef, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables and corned beef on rye.
If you’d rather belly up to the bar you will no doubt notice “Tommy Sullivan’s Café, established 1978” emblazoned into the wood. The Kelly-green lettering and shamrocks will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into a pub in the lush green countryside of Ireland.
Speaking of bars, our readers have their favorite local watering holes that include Anthony’s of Guilford, The Deck and Bill’s Seafood Restaurant both in Westbrook.
Over at Bill’s Seafood you can wear shorts and flip flops or dress to the nines. On the deck overlooking the Patchogue River near the Singing Bridge, you can feed the ducks and the gulls. Inside you can shimmy to a Dixieland band, Swing band or lively cover band.
In their own words, Bill’s Seafood website states, “Bill's Seafood is familiar territory to boaters who dock their boats in some the finest marinas on the East Coast in Westbrook Connecticut. Outside picnic tables on the edge of the Patchogue River, and a center bar/dining room with a nautical kind atmosphere is the best ongoing party on the East Coast.”
Aren’t interested in cocktails? How about taking in a movie?
For many years, Madison Art Cinema has garnered Shoreline Times readers’ votes for best movie theater. Madison Art Cinema shares these votes with Regal Cinema in Branford and Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook.
If you’re inclined toward thought-provoking, first-run independent features that you’d be hard-pressed to find outside New York and Boston, no venue on the Shoreline approaches Madison Art Cinemas, as our readers have made clear.
Most recently the theater showed “Downton Abbey” to packed houses daily as well as “Judy” the film about the glamorous yet tragic life Judy Garland, starring Renee Zellweger.
The movie house opened in 1912. Before that, it functioned as a meeting hall and a gymnasium. Beneath the sloped wooden floor (painted in Brazilian green) is a basketball court.
Enthusiastically, owner Arnold Gorlick eager awaits theater goers, as they enter and exit the theater, to hear their opinions about the two movies screened at his cinema.
To make the experience more enjoyable, Gorlick outfitted the 106-year-old theater with a level of projection and sound that rivals the best-equipped mainstream venues and makes every seat the best in the house.
So, whether it’s a weeknight or a weekend, if you have some free time to fill, check out some of these spots that our readers voted best of along the Shoreline. There is something for everybody.