From Beach to Bar, Hamptons Nightlife Offers Full Range
There is no shortage of after-hours activity to choose from, no matter where you live
For some, a perfect day in the Hamptons involves spending the sunny hours at the beach and then hitting a hip bar or scene-y party after the sun goes down. Others prefer quiet restaurants with farm-to-table fare. Fortunately there’s room for both out east.
The New Nightlife
Montauk, nicknamed the “End of the World” because of its location at the eastern tip of Long Island, has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years as a spot with a lively beach-to-bar scene. It has great music, bars and restaurants, plenty of which are right on the water, listing agents say.
“There are so many terrific restaurants that offer different feelings,” said Charlie Esposito of the Corcoran Group. “The Surf Lodge has great music and great bar and it's on the lake. Also Gurney’s [Montauk Resort & Spa] is on the ocean and the outdoor bar has music…and at the Crow’s Nest you have cocktails on the lake.”
Montauk was once a fairly quiet fishing village with a burgeoning surfing scene, according to agents. Now there’s a party every night in the summer.
“I fish a lot in Montauk,” Bespoke Real Estate’s Sam Kelly said. “Sometimes when I come off the fishing boat at four in the morning on a weekend, it’s like Mardi Gras out there.”
Mr. Kelly has an uncle who is a commercial fisherman in Montauk, he said, and he’s been visiting the far east Hamptons locale all his life. “It’s a far cry from what it used to be,” Mr. Kelly said. “But when you live in a beautiful place, it’s only a matter of time before people see what it’s like and want to come enjoy it themselves.”
A few years ago, many Hamptonites thought the nightlife in Montauk “was out of control,” said Martha Gundersen from Brown Harris Stevens. “It died down some after new rental regulations were put in place.”
While the village’s downtown area attracts a younger crowd—“It’s like Westhampton Beach used to be in the 1970s,” Ms. Gundersen said—Montauk’s pristine beachfront properties attract older beachgoers with deeper pockets.
Although July and August in the Hamptons are still the busiest time of year, the social scene in the Hamptons is much less see-and-be-seen than it once was.
“I don’t want to say it’s dying down exactly, but the new wealth has traded in that lifestyle,” Ms. Gundersen said. Instead of living in more populated areas south of Route 27, ultrarich homebuyers are looking for larger estates on the other side.
“They are looking for space, like 20-acre estates,” Ms. Gundersen said. “They don’t want to be seen; they want privacy.”
Mr. Kelly agrees that “the scene has morphed a little bit.”
“The Hamptons were really in the spotlight in terms of the nightlife scene,” he said, citing the “golden age” as the late 1990s and early 2000s. “There were major nightclubs that were huge draws for celebrities and the rich and famous.”
Now things are more subdued, he said. “Low key is almost cooler now. People are no longer looking to be somewhere with a line of limos down the street.”
Southampton, which once had several clubs, has a quieter bar-and-restaurant scene these days, as do Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, Mr. Kelly said. Sag Harbor’s is bustling on a summer evening, though. And there’s still a lot to choose from in those areas.
“We are spoiled in the Hamptons,” Ms. Esposito said. “Each town has fantastic restaurants and bars at all price points.”
In Southampton, she mentioned Sant Ambroeus, an Italian place with outdoor seating (that is also popular with the well-heeled crowd in Manhattan), and Red Bar Brasserie, an upscale restaurant with new American-French fare. In Bridgehampton, there’s Jean-Georges at the Topping Rose House hotel, run by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Yama-Q for sushi and other healthy eats, and Pierre's, with local seafood, French classics and a bakery.
The Palm East Hampton, a clubby steakhouse, “always has a scene,” Ms. Esposito added. And in Sag Harbor, “the Beacon has the best sunsets.” Lulu Kitchen and Bar “is new, and has a real bar scene.”
Amagansett has the Stephen Talkhouse. “It’s an institution,” Ms. Esposito said. “You can find Jimmy Buffet or Paul McCartney surprising fans. The music there is as good as you would find anywhere, attracting people of all ages.”
Sagaponack is in the middle of everything, offering easy access to all of the Hamptons hamlets, agents said. Sagaponack Bar & Grill has a seafood-heavy menu, as one might expect in the Hamptons, while TownLineBBQ, also in Sagaponack, brings the meat to the table.
There’s no doubt Hamptonites could head to a soiree almost every weekend of the summer. These days, many of those shindigs are parties with a purpose.
“Some of the best parties are the events that you can have fun and raise money at the same,” Ms. Esposito said.
Plenty are hosted by celebrities and other wealthy Hamptons homeowners and offer a chance, albeit limited, to check out their swank estates over signature cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres. That could be a dinner at Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld’s East Hampton spot for Ms. Seinfeld’s GOOD+ foundation, which helps parents in need.
Or there’s Apollo in the Hamptons when billionaire Ronald Perelman opens his East Hampton home in support of the Harlem theater in which he is on the board. Last year, Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys performed to a crowd that included Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, Kendall Jenner, Chris Rock and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, according to an article in the New York Times.
Not everyone has access to these events, but chances are, people able to give generously can make it on the guest list. And there are plenty of other opportunities, whether it be for cancer research, the Southampton Hospital, organizations that help fight homelessness or ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund.
“There are political fundraisers as well,” Ms. Gundersen said. “There’s always something.”
Sales on the high-end of the market were sluggish across the country in 2017, and the Hamptons was no exception, according to agents. But Ms. Gundersen said she expects things to pick up this year.
“People have been slow to pull the trigger on some of the more expensive estates,” she said. “But I think those will start moving again.”
One reason? The new tax laws have finally been solidified, which erases the uncertainty from buyers’ minds. And, for the upper echelons, the lower rates will likely give them extra spending power.
Mr. Kelly has already seen some pick-up in the market, especially in homes ranging from $10 million to $20 million. He’s meeting with clients now who are looking to ready for the 2018 summer season.
“People want to find deals, and that takes some time,” he said, adding that the closing also takes up to a month or a few months. “People are starting to search now so they will be ready to be in for summer.”