Whether set up by friends or brought together by a chat room, dating service or some other alley in the social network, few blind dates, like the best made battle plans, survive first contact. Many people schedule such meetings in places and situations where they can get out fast – but for those who want to give that first meeting a fighting chance, bars offer the lighting, music, mood and relaxed atmosphere that let two people take it easy and slow, and the alcohol doesn’t hurt either. Here are five places in Connecticut that are ideal for those first and especially blind dates.
The Russell
103 Pratt St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 727-4014

Few places are as romantic as the Caribbean, and while Connecticut is hours away by jet from Jamaica, Hugh Russell has managed to bring Jamaica to Connecticut – and to bring in it lovely, romantic style.  His bar in Hartford, which bears his own name, is set up like “a cozy hotel bar” in the islands, as he puts it. There are several main rooms to choose from where two people can meet and have a drink in public, including an open patio or a more formal bar. If the date is going well, there are smaller, much more private little sitting areas up on the mezzanine providing comfortable, quiet spots where a blind date can flower.

Dish Bar and Grill
900 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 249-3474

Nick Salerno has seen many a blind date begin and end while tending bar at Hartford’s Dish, located in the old landmark Sage Allen Department Store on Main Street in Hartford. Politicians, business people, fans of the arts and shoppers all know the Dish, and whether coming in for an after-work pick-me-up or an after-theater cool-me-down, the Dish is a charming, elegant, romantic and quality place to impress a blind date. Nick also makes a killer cocktail of his own invention, the espresso martini or the “Espressotini” which has that unique combo of booze to put you down and espresso to pick you up – it may be the perfect drink to open one’s eyes on a blind date.

Riverwalk Restaurant
14 Holmes St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-5220

The seashore is built for romance, and Mystic’s Riverwalk Restaurant on Schooner Wharf is a great setting by the sea for a blind date. The food is excellent, but patrons can just order cocktails as they sit and gaze out on the wharf and count the pretty little boats as they go sailing by. Riverwalk is noted also for its specialty cocktails – notably the “Dark and Stormy” rum and ginger beer and the “Oatmeal Cookie” concocted with Jaegermeister, Bailey’s and two kinds of schnapps. Both are conversation starters, and while they don’t hit as hard and quick as a martini or a Manhattan, they can sneak up on you. Either way, the combination of unique cocktails and the seashore, especially at sunset, make for a nice way to start a blind date off right.Related: Top Bars For Groups In Connecticut

56 Mill Plain Road
Danbury, CT  06810
(203) 748-0875

A tapas bar combines the mood, atmosphere and booze of a regular cocktail bar with good food – and food that can be enjoyed by the small plate and is meant for sharing. Mezon in Danbury has a lovely atmosphere, with a full bar as well as a lovely selection of wine by the bottle or glass. Those who want to drink less and eat more during their first meeting, yet do not want to commit to a full meal, may find Mezon to be ideal. A bad blind date can be brought to an end quickly and inexpensively, while a good one can be extended on through dinner. For those dates teetering somewhere in between, nothing buys daters a little more time better than just one more plate of appetizers. Besides, choosing what tapas to share can be a nice way to find out what the other person likes.

Puerto Vallarta
15 W. Avon Road
Avon CT 06018
(860) 675-1999

Sometimes a quiet little romantic spot is just too quiet and too romantic for a first date. A lively place like Puerto Vallarta, where the Patron flows like the Rio Grande in spring and happy hour is 240 minutes long, might help break the ice in that first meeting. House margaritas are inexpensive ($6.25 normal, $3 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and there is great finger food even at the bar. Of course, for those who really want to or need to loosen up in that initial date, there is the Patron Silver Special – a massive five-cup margarita meant for sharing. By the time two people finish that one, their blind date might be a different kind of blind – but they will have had plenty of time to get to know one another.

Related: Top Bars With Local Brews In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.