Exposed brick and warm lumber-lined walls, rough hewn and polished planks of wood alike on the bar and floors, and an expansive beer hall-like space give Sonny’s that made in Brooklyn (or Austin) feel especially when bands like Soggy Po’ Boys play on Tuesday nights and Mark Ryan behind the bar puts a silent film on the flat screen. Plenty of quirky art and tchotchkes surround, too, but in moderation. This might be the last time I say a Seacoast bar or restaurant could be in Brooklyn or Austin, by the way. Sonny’s is a particular kind of gastropub we’re finding in all of our local towns - The Black Birch, The Joinery, Thistle Pig, Revolution Taproom - great food, cool vibe, stellar drinks, so yes, a gastropub.-
The ﬁrst thing we do at Sonny’s is ask Mark Ryan, the tavern’s talented bartender and co-owner, to bring us a cocktail. We leave it in his hands. Perhaps it’ll be the Lemon Meringue, a frothy, light dessert concoction made with gin, egg white, vanilla liqueur, and lemon. We don’t even like gin, but we love this. Or maybe the award-winning Mingus, with Buffalo Trace, Dolin Rouge, cherry liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and lavender bitters. Somehow it all works, and we may order another. Or, if it’s a chilly night, he could bring us a Bearded Lady. “It tastes like smoke and leather,” he says. “It’s a little Mad Men-esque, but a lot smoother.”
The gastropub menu here offers a Southern twist supplanted with a dazzling craft cocktail list featuring a smoked Manhattan. Kick back and relax with classic black-and-white movies playing on TV. Find Carolina-style fried chicken (pictured at left) or try the seafood gumbo ($15). The Sonny’s Burger is a popular request and has spawned a concept of its own with Eastern Burger Company in Stratham. For Sunday brunch there’s a salmon cake Benedict and the inventive fried green tomato version with smoked ham ($10). Or how about housemade biscuits stacked with chorizo gravy ($10)? Round it out with a side of cheesy grits for $3.