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Happy Hour on the Water

Enjoying a Port Washington waterfront happy hour is like a mini-vacation without the travel time or expense. Happy Hour in Port means taking in a water view with reduced drink prices and specially priced menus. Being a journalist can be grueling at times, but I endured this recent assignment, investigating the take on happy hour of three Port Washington waterfront establishments.

What I learned was that it is possible for two people to gaze out on the bay, have a round of drinks and three small plates of food, and spend only around $30 to $50. The price difference depends on whether you have mixed drinks or beer, and the items you select from the menu.

Marino’s on the Bay is a friendly place that General Manager Anthony Cinicola says is “close to being on the set of Cheers, because people that gather here really know your name.” Marino’s has an inviting happy hour special of $3 off all mixed drinks and wine. Beer is $3, whether from bottles or the good selection of taps.

The happy hour menu has 16 items, with prices ranging from $6 to $9. Selections that we liked included freshly shucked and quick fried oysters, beef sliders, in-house fresh-fried calamari, shrimps on a bun, and mussels. Marino’s is in Brewers Capri Marina, giving customers a good view of boats and bay from the inside bar.

At happy hour, bar patrons are invited enjoy their drinks outside — if the outdoor tables are not being used by diners. We found the service, taste and value well worth a stop. Happy hour is seven days a week.

Louie’s, which has been in Port Washington since 1905, went through a complete renovation in 2003 and has a sharp-looking nautical decor. Customers can unwind at the long bar inside or go outside where there are several bar seats at counters by the water.

Happy hour drink specials are $2 off for cocktails and $1 off for beer. During happy hour you can get a dozen clams on the half shell for $8 or a dozen oysters for $10. Along with these specials, you can choose from ten items on Louie’s bar menu, with prices ranging from $8.20 to $15.20. We found the fresh-shucked clams and oysters served on ice to be just what was needed for the hot summer evening we visited. We also sampled their sashimi-grade tuna taco and a cubed filet mignon that we enjoyed.

La Motta’s happy hour is different from the others because drinks and small plates are served in a large outdoor area that has an outdoor bar overlooking Manhasset Bay Marina. Sitting here reminds one of being at a bar somewhere in the Florida Keys or on the intercoastal waterway in Southern Florida. The outdoor bar even has a fine water mister to help you stay cool on a hot summer evening.

Happy hour at La Motta’s is 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the indoor bar, or 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the outdoor area during the week. They offer 25-cent wings and 50-cent clams on the half shell from Monday to Wednesday. Ladies have extra discounted drink specials on Thursday. Normal happy hour drink prices are $6 for well drinks and wine, and $1 off specialty dinks. Specially promoted is the happy hour “bucket of beer” priced at $16 to $20 for five bottles.

The ten items on the happy hour menu range in price from $7 to $11. We enjoyed the fresh-shucked clams, baked clams, mini pizza and burgers. I especially recommend Friday evenings at LaMotta’s because after happy hour ends, the place rocks, with some of the best local bands playing until 11:30 p.m. during the season.

If wish to “happy hour hop” and do not want to drive, you can call Port Washington’s water taxi at 455-0411. For $5, they will take you to any of the other waterfront restaurants. If you feel the need to still be on the water, they can arrange a sunset tour of the bay.