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A Pirate’s Guide To Fire Island

Nine restaurant-pubs in 24 hours


I barehanded that critter, mopping and sopping through the lemon-butter drenched vat—washing her down again with a small barrel of rum, a pirate’s nectar, indeed.

Next, to Housers Bar, a saloon that’s been keeping marooned pirates like meself liquored up since 1921. Loud, raucous and packed, it’s part of the Housers’ complex, which includes Housers Hotel and the Hideaway Restaurant. Housers’ specialty is the Zippy, a pink cocktail whose ingredients I shan’t tell here, scallywag shape-shifters.

CJ’s refreshing, high-octane Rocket Fuel


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“The Zippy’s ingredients are a well-guarded secret,” said Rocky, taking a long pull from his pint at a picnic table behind the joint while boats pulled up, unloading more Howlies (Hawaiian slang for non-natives). “Always tasted so familiar to me. Then I realized why: I’d invented it back when I worked at a tavern! Drank them all the time!”

He even told a Houser’s barkeep as much one evening, to suspicious stares.

We continued along Bay Walk—OB’s main waterfront artery—to the next conquest: CJ’s.

CJ’s is a true pirate’s bar. The music is earsplitting. The dance floor is grooving. And everybody’s inebriated. CJ’s specialty is Rocket Fuel. They arrived pre-made: thick, chilling milkshake-like pina coladas churned with a healthy dosage of 151. Swallowed like brain-freeze butter. Next, the good mayor’s canteen, the foreboding Albatross.

“They’ve got a really strange rule in this place,” slurred Rocky, who’d been sampling various brews since mid-afternoon. “See those ceiling lamps? You can’t swing them. That’s an actual rule. They’ll throw you out.”

Bottles of Fire Island Lighthouse Ale were our next choice, at Maguire’s Bayfront Restaurant—where we were joined by Rocky’s buddy Elmer, just returning from the hidden playground that is Cherry Grove.

We hit Rachel’s for some afternoon eats the following morning. Adjacent to legendary Rachel’s Bake Shop—the restaurant is a diner oasis and serves breakfast most of the day. Nothing better to combat a pirate’s night of pillaging, dear rumrunners [salute to me great-grandpappi].

I ordered a Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Omelette ($13.95) and a hot cup of coffee. Thick, loaded and multi-layered, she was a beauty: generous chunks of fish sandwiched between mini caverns of semi-liquid cream cheese, tucked snugly amid walls of three soft, warm eggs accompanied by a mound of potatoes and a biscuit. Worth their weight in gold, fellow food pirates.

Afterward, we packed our bags and hit the beach, embarking on a shoreline journey to Kismet, Fire Island’s westernmost town. We stopped for brews at The Shack in Atlantique—a lunch counter/bar first to serve native craft beer Lighthouse Ale. Trekking through Lonelyville, we stopped again to wet our lips at Le Dock in Fair Harbor—“a barefoot community,” say locals. Then onto Saltaire, for another round.

The gorgeous, filling Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Omelette at Rachel’s Restaurant in Ocean Beach.

Several deer followed us along the way into Kismet. They did not, however, follow us into the Kismet Inn, which has been serving hungry and thirsty wanderers such as meself, for more than 85 years. Spacious, Kismet Inn features a wraparound bar, plentiful seating and a pool table. We ordered several rounds, then hopped directly across the street to Surf’s Out, another popular dockside restaurant/bar.

Though Pasta Night, best to order something a wee bit lighter, I reckoned. So we devoured a half-dozen Oysters as appetizers. Rocky went with the Naked Fish Yellow Fin Tuna Steak ($28) for an entrée—grilled, brushed with EVOO, lemon and parsley, blackened. The Any Fresher You Would Be Wet Tuna ($30) was me choice: black-and-white sesame-crusted, pan-seared, brushed with hoisin sauce, atop fried kale. Heaven.

More rum, then a yellow-and-blue-hued specialty cocktail during a flaming tray of monster Cannolis. The filling was sweet and creamy, laced with chocolate syrup and staked with a giant sparkler. Before hopping a 10 p.m. ferry home, we ended the evening back at the Inn.

Fire Island, I raise my stein to you, dear sweetness. A pirate’s life, indeed.

Getting There: LIRR to Bay Shore, Patchogue or Sayville. Taxi to the docks, then hop Fire Island Ferry to Ocean Beach ($4 and $9, one-way, respectively, from Bay Shore).

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