Cover Story | Drinking

Al Fresco Sipping

Your guide to South County's most spirited outdoor bars

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

If you’re like us, when summer hits the Ocean State, you prefer to spend as much time as humanly possible outside, and close to our greatest natural resource, the ocean. There’s no better way to drink in the scenery al fresco than at South County’s most picturesque outdoor bars, with cocktail in hand, naturally. Read on to find the best spots to grab a drink while working on that summertime glow.


Finn’s Harborside 
The name may have changed over the years, but the view from the outdoor bar at Finn’s Harborside is always the same. Perched in Greenwich Cove, Finn’s is a great starting place (by land or by boat) to start your al fresco cocktail tour of South County. The restaurant has entertainment nightly in the summer, starting in the afternoons on weekends, so order up your favorite summer beer – they’ve got an extensive selection on draft and in bottles – sit back, and soak in the part of the year we’ve waited ten long months for. 38 Water Street, East Greenwich. 884-6363, www.finnsharborside.com

Tavern by the Sea
You might have been to Tavern by the Sea and not noticed its lower patio and waterfront bar. All the better for savvy patrons looking to get a seat. The beloved landmark in Wickford has a large upper deck filled with lunch and dinner patrons, while the lower offers additional seating and has its own bar, which is so close to Wickford Harbor that you could reach out and touch the water if you wanted to. Choose a specialty mojito like raspberry, blueberry, watermelon or 1800 Coconut and sip as the kayakers drift by. If you’re feeling really summery, treat yourself to a frozen concoction like a Blue Hawaii or a Mango Tango.
16 W Main Street, North Kingstown. 294-5771, www.tavernbytheseari.com

Coast Guard House 
It doesn’t get any more classically South County than the rooftop deck at the Coast Guard House. Upstairs has a different, more casual menu then the downstairs fine dining restaurant, and you won’t feel shy grabbing a table in a wet bathing suit. Their cocktail menu is divided into Local Spirits (featuring New England’s own Sons of Liberty distillery in South Kingstown, Keel Vodka from the East Bay, Triple 8 from Nantucket and more) and Spirits from Around the Globe, with concoctions like the Coconut Water Cocktail, with Tito’s vodka, coconut water, pineapple, lime and mint. Order a frozen drink (like the Coast Guard House Mudslide, made with Dave’s Coffee Syrup from Charlestown) to cool off from the beach, and maybe a lobster roll, and get ready to hit the waves again. 
40 Ocean Road, Narragansett. 789-0700, www.thecoastguardhouse.com 

Ocean House 
If you want a glimpse of how the other half lives, but don’t have the other half’s budget, then head to the Verandah at the Ocean House. The opulent resort in Watch Hill has a wraparound porch that has seating for small groups, serves cocktails and snacks, and doesn’t require reservations or Nantucket Reds.

The Ocean House Southside has Mt. Gay Dark Rum, fresh lemon, simple syrup and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon with a float of Meyers Dark Rum; the Low Tide Painkiller is made with Mt. Gay Silver Rum, pineapple juice, Crème de Coco, grapefruit juice and Crème de Strawberry. Watch the yachts sail by as you sip, and try to act cool, like you’re totally not trying to spy on Taylor Swift’s house next-door. 1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill. 584-7000, www.oceanhouseri.com 

Jamestown Fish 
While you might think of Jamestown Fish as a fine dining restaurant – you wouldn’t be wrong, by the way – there’s a whole other, more casual side. Upstairs in the restaurant is a laid-back bar with an attached deck that has an unparalleled view of the Newport Bridge. It is, in our expert opinion, the very best vantage point for a sunset cocktail… at least on Conanicut Island. Downstairs, the patio bar has lounge areas with private fire pits, a wood oven turning out pizzas and smaller bites, and seasonal cocktails that change at the creative bartenders’ whim. A recent concoction had Ketel One, apricot, blood orange and Prosecco over crushed ice, garnished with an edible flower. If you get hungry after all that sipping, chef Matthew McCartney’s food has garnered him Food + Wine magazine’s best chef in New England for two years running. You could do worse than to try something.
14 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown. 423-3474, www.jamestownfishri.com 

Paddy’s Beach Club
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Paddy’s, on the Misquamicut strip, is the closest you’re going to get to a tropical resort in Rhode Island. The restaurant has three outdoor bars long enough that you’re guaranteed to get a seat at any time of the day. Paddy’s also has an attached Tiki Beach, where servers will bring you cocktails like the 1800 Coconut Crusher, Island Rum Punch or Ultimate Mudslide while you lounge in the sand in beach chairs. When it’s time for a dip, just put your parrot shaped glass down, jump into the ocean, and head back to the chair for a refill. It’s the best possible way to have a summer staycation in the Ocean State.
159 Atlantic Avenue, Westerly. 596-2610, www.paddysbeach.com 

The Andrea 
The historic Andrea Hotel in Misquamicut may not have survived Hurricane Sandy, but its patio did. It’s hard to find a better view in the entire Ocean State then in one of their Adirondack chairs, cocktail in hand. Step off the sand and directly into the restaurant, where every table is al fresco. If you’ve brought friends, order up a pitcher of one of their specialty cocktails. If you haven’t, well, that’s not going to last long in this convivial atmosphere.
89 Atlantic Ave, Westerly. 348-8788, www.andreabeachbar.com 

Oceanside at the Pier 
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more than one outdoor bar in Narragansett with an amazing water view. Oceanside at the Pier has an expansive patio attached to the laid back restaurant, with a bar long enough that you can get a seat with an ocean view, and live acoustic music all weekend. Sip on a Coronarita, have lunch or dinner, and make some new friends as you watch surfers drove past with their boards along the sea wall.
1 Beach Street, Narragansett. 792-3999, www.oceansideatthepier.com 

Ocean Mist 
There is no better, classically Rhode Island summer moment than sitting on the deck at the Ocean Mist, sipping a Narragansett Del’s Shandy (made with the real lemonade… it’s summer in a can). Add a plate of fish tacos, and time your visit to when there’s a band playing – which in the summer is basically any afternoon or evening. This laid-back, casual bar was named one of Esquire magazine’s Best Bars in America a few years ago. But, it’s been fighting a war against the ocean itself (erosion has been a constant problem for the O’Mist and neighboring Tara’s) and against the town of South Kingstown, which approved a sea wall that would effectively sink both businesses. To find out more, visit www.protectmatunuck. com.
895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck. 782-3740, www.oceanmist.net 

The Rooftop at Phil’s
Wait, what? Wakefield has a rooftop bar? We know. We were surprised, too. But one visit is all you need to make the Rooftop at Phil’s a regular fixture to your cocktailing routine. (Everyone has one of those, right?) Downstairs, Phil’s has two identities: the first floor diner serves breakfast and lunch every day, while the upstairs is Phil’s Main Street Grille, serving more upscale cuisine for dinner. But in the summer, the star of the show is the Rooftop Deck. While you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner up there, we recommend grabbing a seat at the center bar, ordering up a local brew like a Grey Sail Flying Jenny (made in Westerly) and soaking in the sun.
323 Main Street, Wakefield. 783-4073, www.philsmainstreetgrille.com 

George’s and Champlin’s
You can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Two restaurants, across a parking lot from each other, both perched at the very tip of the Port of Galilee. They’ve both been serving the state’s freshest seafood since the 1940s. The differences between George’s of Galilee and Champlin’s are subtle, but they’re definitely there. George’s has a more extensive menu, especially for people who don’t love seafood (and inexplicably haven’t been kicked out of Rhode Island yet). Upstairs, they have two huge bars – one has an attached patio with a view of Salty Brine beach, and the other has so many open windows that it feels like being outside while you sip a ‘Gansett – what else? – and listen to live music. Champlin’s, on the other hand, is stricter about its traditional New England seafood offerings, with the added bonus of being able to pick out your lobster downstairs in the fish market and have it prepared upstairs in the restaurant. Their new Channel Bar is the perfect vantage point to watch the Block Island Ferry sail past, and serves up a mean Bloody Mary.
George’s: 250 Sand Hill Cove Road, Narragansett. 783-2306, www.georgesofgalilee.com 
Champlin’s: 256 Great Island Road, Narragansett. 783-3152, www.champlins.com

Blu on the Water
This chic restaurant is the place to see and be seen in East Greenwich in the summer. Blu on the Water is a Miami-inspired restaurant that has the largest waterfront patio in the state, with fire pits and live entertainment on weekends. Take your pick of six varieties of sangria – like the Strawberry-Basil Champagne Sangria or the Pink Watermelon Sangria – or frozen drinks like a Mango Rum Slush or Spiked Frozen Lemonade. “Maritime Mixers” like Pirate’s Cove, made with three kinds of rum, and margaritas like the Mango Pineapple Paradise will further complicate your decision. Or, if you’re really looking to make a splash, just spring for the $500 bottle of Dom Perignon Rosé. Whether you get there by water or land is up to you – Blu has transient dockage for stylish sailors.
20 Water Street, East Greenwich. 885-3700, www.bluonthewater.com 

Twin Willows
Twin Willows is the locals’ sanctuary in a sea of summer tourists in Narragansett. While they all congregate around the sea wall, those in the know choose this laid-back, slightly more off the radar restaurant in Bonnet Shores. The new outdoor bar has a view of the Newport Bridge that’s far enough away for you to appreciate the scenery, and just close enough to be grateful you aren’t stuck in that bridge traffic. Monday-Friday pub menu specials give you delicious deals on snacks to enjoy with your cold brew.
865 Boston Neck Road, Narragansett. 789-8153, www.twinwillowsnarragansett.com 

Matunuck Oyster Bar
The line of cars waiting at valet might be intimidating, but don’t let a little wait stop you from bellying up to Matunuck Oyster Bar’s gorgeous outdoor bar. Views of the salt pond set the perfect backdrop for a glass of bubbly and a dozen oysters raised by chef/owner Perry Raso and taken from the water that day. Since you’re eating hyper-local, drink that way too, by ordering a Matunuck Martini with Grey Goose vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Prosecco, or the Potter’s Pond Bloody Mary, with Ultimat vodka, house mix and a Matunuck oyster floater.
629 Succotash Road, Matunuck. 783-4202, www.rhodyoysters.com 

Hammerhead Grill 
You’re probably already familiar with the Bon Vue Inn, the popular bar on Ocean Road in Narragansett that’s so close to Iggy’s and Aunt Carrie’s that you basically have to stop by or it’s against the natural laws of summer. Friday nights especially, the Bon Vue is full of sun worshippers dancing to great local bands. What you might not realize is that you can have all of the view and none of the bumping into people upstairs at the Hammerhead Grill’s patio. Serving up summery concoctions like the Pink Flamingo (Absolut Vanilla vodka, Malibu coconut rum, cranberry and pineapple juice) and the Tiki Colada (rum, Kahlua, Irish Cream and Malibu) along with traditional tropical favorites like Mai Tais and Rum Runners, Hammerhead is definitely worth a stop.
1230 Ocean Road, Narragansett. 789-6159, www.hammerheadgrillri.com 

Tara’s Tipperary Tavern
The other must-stop on the Matunuck strip is Tara’s, an authentically Irish pub directly on the beach. (Tara herself is from Ireland, and grew up living over her family’s pub.) If you’re starting early, don’t miss the traditional Irish breakfast – which of course wouldn’t be complete without a Guinness. Tara’s has frequent live music, but the best part about it is that the restaurant has rental cottages attached to it. If you enjoy yourself a little too much partying by the shore, you can stay the night. Whether you start all over again in the morning is completely up to you.
907 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck. 284-1901, www.tarasfamilypub.com 

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