It's sunny outside and warm enough that -- gasp -- we can actually wear open-toed shoes without becoming apoplectic. Each year I like to list the local watering holes best suited to the celebration of summer, sunshine and cool drinks, and this year is no different. Last time I summed up a few of the more familiar locations, this year I will expound on some you may not have visited and others that may be worth a second glance.
After several Facebook and Twitter suggestions, I collected a listing of good choices for your next "it's Wednesday" excuse for a sunny stop. Cocktail colleague Amy Mack (mixologist and manager at the Bear Tooth Grill) reminded me of a sunlit, social spot that's sort of off the radar, but has amazing fried mozzarella. Piper's Restaurant and Lounge (3450 Aviation Ave.) is a great choice for midtown nightlife fans. It's conveniently near the airport, has a lovely outdoor deck, great prices on beer and well drinks and a more than adequate grub menu. The food may not be comparable to downtown haute cuisine, but at Piper's you'll find faster service, fewer tourists and more room to relax and work on your Alaska tan.
The Fancy Moose Lounge at the Millennium Hotel (4800 Spenard Road) is one of my favorite after work, sun-laden spots to sip a Hefeweizen or glass of white wine. The deck can be busy on nice days, but it's worth the scrabble to snag a table and chairs because the view is amazing and the atmosphere is perfect for local Carrhart-loving folks who enjoy a fancy place every once in awhile. Plus if you're single in the city, it can be a convenient spot to find other sunny singletons after work or on the weekends before heading downtown.
I may be biased because it's ridiculously close to where I live, but the Bradley House (11321 Old Seward Highway) is quickly becoming my new favorite summertime hangout. The outdoor area is fantastic -- always busy, always sunny (that is, when the sun's out) and always the kind of scene where I feel like I have to stop or I'll miss out on some super cool nightlife opportunity. The food at the Bradley House isn't my favorite, but it's enough for some appetizers and a light snack with a cocktail or two. The service also leaves something to be desired, but if it's sunny and I have a cool drink near me and sunglasses on, I'm not really in a big hurry.
If none of the above spots strike your fancy, other places to consider include the outdoor area of the Pepper Mill (4101 Credit Union Dr.), or the outdoor seating area at the Peanut Farm (5227 Old Seward Highway). And, though technically not outdoors, any place with big, bright windows will do if you can sit near enough to get some second-hand UV rays through the glass while you tip your glass. Happy summer Anchorage. Cheers.