990 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT 06510
The name may not set your expectations high, but this New Haven bar, which took the place of the former Richter’s, does provide a unique experience – it’s like you’re attending a cocktail party at a 19th century mansion. There’s a long wooden bar with a chandelier and a lounge that looks like a parlor with a mounted deer head over a fireplace. Ordinary’s food specialties include cheese plates with crackers and jam, grilled cheese (with or without smoked meat) and individual meat pies baked by Southington’s Sixpence Pie Company. Enjoy them alongside a creative cocktail, a craft beer or one of its red or white wines.
Nola Oyster Bar
68 Washington St.
Norwalk, CT 06854
A little bit of New Orleans traveled up north early this year when Nola Oyster Bar opened in South Norwalk. Nola’s seafood gumbo and jambalaya have been a hit with patrons, but the dish that gets the biggest raves is the poached lobster and cornbread waffle. If seafood isn’t for you, don’t worry – it offers a delicious burger as well. The drink menu has a number of bottled and draft beers from around the country and over three dozen wines by the bottle. Make sure to stop by for Sunday brunch featuring Nola’s new takes on familiar breakfast food and its Bloody Mary bar.
245 Bedford St.
Stamford, CT 06901
The tapas bar Boca moved into Stamford this summer and immediately made an impression with its sleek, modern, black and white interior. People are also drawn to its array of small, Mediterranean-inspired plates to indulge in with their drinks. Popular choices include grilled skirt steak, chicken empanadas and eggplant and zucchini chips. Stay for miniature desserts served in shot glasses. Live DJs play house music Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 9 p.m.
Red Lantern Restaurant & Lounge
240 MGM Grand Drive
Mashantucket, CT 06338
A longtime popular spot in Boston, the Asian lounge Red Lantern moved in to Foxwoods in September. It’s not too difficult to see what inspired the name – dozens of lanterns on the ceiling radiate red light onto the dining area. Red Lantern serves up a number of unique martinis, but if you’re coming with a group of friends, try springing for one of its two oversized cocktails meant for sharing. There’s the Red Lantern Volcano made with Bacardi and Mei-Li’s Miracle with Absolut. If you’re hungry, try one of a dozen signature sushi dishes or perhaps a dessert like the tempura banana split with sweet wontons and peanut puree. Gluten-free options are available as well.
Muse Paint Bar
Blue Back Square
65 Memorial Road
West Hartford, CT 06107
There are plenty of bars around for people who like to dance and some karaoke establishments for those who like singing, but what about those who like to paint? They finally got their wish when Muse Paint Bar, which has long had a location in Manchester, New Hampshire, joined West Hartford’s Blue Back Square in November. Sign up for a session for you and a date or a bunch of friends ($35 each), then let that evening’s instructor help you paint a scenic landscape while you sip a Blue Moon, Harpoon UFO or Smuttynose IPA. Muse also offers several wines by the glass or bottle and tasty food items like miniature pizzas. It all adds up to a bar experience like you’ve never had.
Related: Top Secret Bars In Connecticut
Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com