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Long Island - A very special place we get to call home.

A Bit o' City for the Country Mouse

Having grown up in Queens, frequenting nightlife in nearby Manhattan, I sometimes still long for the urban vibe of a buzzing hotspot. Well last weekend I was hurled back in time and space, to downtown New York City in the 90s, right in Greenport of all places.

Greenport this time of year is half shuttered, with weary restaurateurs trying to snatch a glimpse of well-deserved rest. That leaves the rest of the courageous establishments open to the onslaught of bored winter tourists and lonesome locals searching for anything remotely exciting.

With restaurant reservations on the late side, our small group of four went in search of a pre-dinner cocktail. The streets were void of people and most storefronts were eerily dark - a stark contrast to bustling summer nights in one of the liveliest nautical towns on the island.

After a few blocks the chill worked its way through our layers, and we grew thirstier by the minute. We walked into Brix & Rye, a very cool spot located downstairs from a Main Street storefront. But as we descended to the cavern below we could see it was packed, loud, and not a seat in the house. And not an inch to stand either. Up we went, back on the hunt, and we were getting thangry.

Finally, we entered the courtyard that leads to American Beech, and we catch a glimpse of a small unassuming spot near the end. Black Llama Cocktail Bar. We could see it was lit, and there was activity. In we went.

From the first toe in the door I knew we weren’t in Kansas. The energy rushed over me instantly - the place was buzzing with conversation and seductive music, and the dimly lit space roared sparkly retro. It was loud, the kind of loud where talking to your friends becomes annoying and you choose to just stare at each other instead. But I was really enjoying the scene and trying to take it all in.

The crowd was the most eclectic I’d seen on the North Fork ever - a group of millennials (both male and female) in shiny get-ups, sophisticated women sipping fancy concoctions, earthy folk clutching craft-beer mugs, and middle-aged couples (like ourselves) chilling after a long work week.

The bar area was standing-room only, and barely that. Thankfully we noticed another room through a narrow connection, and we cautiously investigated (you never know what we’re going to stumble on in a place like this). We discovered a sultry lounge with plush seating and exotic décor, and we grabbed a cozy nook to settle into.

I would love to go back when it’s a tad warmer to enjoy the exterior patio, where firepits and furniture awaited. Next time you’re out on the North Fork and if you’re looking for something just a little offbeat, Black Llama is worth a visit.

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