Having a love of dive bars and recently falling in love with John and Peter’s in New Hope, Justin and I set out on our trip to Sleepy Hollow to locate some good bars. The Tapp was recommended as a place for good beers while the Set Back Inn was noted to be the dive bar in adjoining Tarrytown. This trip was a fall-themed one that we hoped would have some mild scares (we did some filming for my web-series in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery). Little did we know, the scariest moments we would have would be in these two bars. Okay, maybe not scary per-se, but definitely ones that made us happy to walk out the door. We did both of the below (and a third one coming separately) in a single day. This is as closest to bar-hopping as I have ever gotten, and might ever get.
The Tapp (17 North Broadway)
We passed by here en-route to Lefteris Gyro and thought it looked like a cool place. We agreed to come back a few hours after lunch and some exploration of Sleepy Hollow. Little did we expect this place to be a hipster bar. But it was not the young, rocking hipsters. More like the hipsters once they turned 60…but still dressed like they are 25. It was late afternoon. The small bar was filled but quiet. We grabbed a high-top table. The bartender looked like she wanted to be anywhere else. She yelled over for us to “shout our orders” when ready. The place was deathly quiet. She also asked if we wanted food. I said probably not but we would take a menu just in case. Not crazy about the beer list which was nothing but craft and IPA’s, and less than thrilled with cocktail prices, I ordered a $4 pint of Narragansett. Justin did the same (no Budweiser). It was alright. I’ve become less and less of a beer drinker.
A few sips in and Justin wanted to share a “Head of the Horseman”, which was a martini-like concoction with RumChata, vodka, pumpkin syrup, and a crushed graham cracker rim. This was pretty good—she definitely did not skimp on the vodka, but it came over looking rather sad. It was a lifeless cocktail that could have been made more vibrant by just a simple dusting of cinnamon. As we sipped it, we were asked four separate times, “Are you guys ready for food?” We said a definitive “no” each time, so I guess it became a game for the bored bartender to keep pestering us. We could not wait to leave. This cozy establishment well-decorated for Halloween ruined by this person representing their brand. We needed a dive after this, or so we thought. 2 out of 5 stars.
The Set Back Inn (33 Main Street)
Was this place set back or a setback? It didn’t take us long to figure it out. I’ve waited years to actually visit a bar where the regulars turn around and look at you as you walk in. This was the place. There were about six or seven people on this Monday evening. None of them were talking. The TV’s were on, but there was no audio. The dim lighting combined with the silence made me feel as if we had just interrupted a wake. We took a seat at the end of the bar. Gin and tonic (served in a plastic cup) for me, a $6 bottle of Budweiser for Justin. For a supposed dive, the prices were high and there were IPA’s everywhere (just not what I associate with a dive).
Here was another bartender who looked less than enthused to be working. If you told me my G & T had no gin in it at all, I would have believed you. Nothing but tonic water. An infant could have drank it without issue. As I glanced around, this appeared more of a dump than a dive. No food was available. The back wall appeared to be newly constructed out of plywood which looked like it could cave in at any moment. The actual room was pretty large—I’m sure it gets filled with locals on weekends. But on this night, it was wasted space. There was also a pool table. We really wanted to play but considering it was so quiet, did not want to interrupt the grim and sorrowful atmosphere with the smacking of pool balls. We sat there, feeling unwelcome and just downright annoyed. We were out the door as soon as we downed our last sip. A total waste of time and money. 1 out of 5 stars.