Blue Martini's eponymous cocktail might be the first on their list of "classic" martinis, but those ordering it shouldn't expect it to look traditional. For starters, it's not clear, but blue (of course). It also eschews the usual glassware, arriving over ice in an oversized snifter rather than a martini glass. The drink gets its hue from a dose of Blue Curaçao, and its taste from a blend of vodka, Cointreau, and orange juice, a mixture patrons can continue to stir with the glow stick that comes propped inside the glass. Blue Martini is able to take such liberties with their libations because they've created 40 unique specialty martinis, a list that draws from flavor inspirations as varied as cucumber, caramel, and sour apple. There's even four different "skinny" martinis, which weigh in at less than 250 calories each.
It's not all martinis, though; bartenders are adept at crafting limitless cocktails, popping bottles of champagne, and pairing guests with selections of red and white wines almost exclusively from California. To keep their drinks company, guests can order from a succinct, yet diverse menu of dishes including a beef tenderloin flatbread and seared tuna with an Asian seaweed and calamari salad. The upscale, sizable environs at each Blue Martini location make them ideal party venues; in fact, hosts can even treat their guests to bites from party platter menus designed to feed up to 400 people or one really hungry garbage disposal.
Grills and ovens heat up kitchens in all three of Sandbar Mexican Grill's locations to prepare a menu of burritos, fajitas, and other classic dishes. Tortilla chips deliver silky smooth parcels of queso dip ($7) or guacamole ($8) to taste buds and P.O. boxes masquerading as teeth. A Dos Equis–based batter coats the baja tacos' marinated mahi along with cabbage, tomatoes, and chipotle tartar sauce ($12). Steak burritos ($14) play the role of protein keystone at the center of food-pyramid-shaped dinners, and shrimp fajitas ($16) sate ears with the sound of sizzling onions and peppers. Sandbar’s tranquil, welcoming atmosphere heats up at night during weekly events at each location as guests sip fresh margaritas and cold beers.
McFadden's Restaurant & Saloon, which now has locations from coast to coast, first opened its doors just a few blocks from Times Square in New York City in 1977. The founder, Steve McFadden, drew upon his Irish heritage when creating the menu and even incorporated his family's own shepherd’s pie recipe. Diners will also find international pub grub such as burgers, sandwiches, and hand-cut top sirloin to accompany the bar’s full selection of beers and cocktails. The atmosphere gets lively after dark here, as groups cheer on their favorite sports teams, shimmy to DJ-spun music, and perform round-off back-handsprings.
The culinary half of this delicious dichotomy is curated by award-winning head chef Christopher Gross, while the palate behind the fermented lounge is sommelier Paola Embry. Hungry peepers can feast upon Christopher's thoroughly modern dining digs; outfitted with bright, candy-colored fixtures that accent clean geometrics and foundational earth tones. Commence proper consumption by memorizing the full dining menu, which is creatively infused with the flavors of French cuisine, tempting early appetites with first plates such as wild-mushroom soup with foie gras ($18) and escargot en croute ($14), or savory salads such as duck confit with mixed greens, Humboldt Fog cheese, and cognac-infused dried cherries ($16). Warm up every nook and cranny of your mouth in preparation for great after-dinner conversation with a plate of steamed mussels with Spanish chorizo and white wine ($16), or take a large bite of smoked truffle-infused filet mignon ($36) to avoid answering questions about your "secret club" and the only other member, your "Matthew McConaughey." For an edible that's both cozy and elegant, opt for a wood-oven pizza topped with wild mushrooms, shallots, and arugula ($12).