With water views, the world’s best bar snacks (trade those jalapeño poppers for a steamed side of freshly dug clams or fish tacos made with the local catch), and any setting to suit your style, thank goodness it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere on Cape Cod. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite spots for cocktails by the sea.

For Sailors and Landlubbers
On Cape Cod, you don’t have to leave the sand for boat drinks; grab a seat on the dock or a table with a harbor view, and you’re as good as seabound, where you’ll quickly discover that “bar” means “raw.” Pair a mudslide with live music at Beach Bar at The Ocean House in Dennis Port, a chic yet casual gathering spot with gorgeous water views and an upscale small plates menu that includes a raw bar, sushi, gourmet pizzas, lobster and salads. In Hyannis, head to the Black Cat Tavern for views of the harbor, or the “shack out back” for the best cocktail of all: lobster tail. Woods Hole’s “world famous” Shuckers earned its celebrity for fresh-caught lobster and a dream location on the dock at Eel Pond. Just over the bridge in Onset, don’t miss the laid-back vibe of Quahog Republic’s Waterfront Eatery while it’s open for the season; indulge in a “monsta” lobsta roll and decadent mudslide over views of Onset Beach.

For Beach Bods and Surfers
If your standard beachwear is a cover-up and you never set foot in the water, lose yourself for a while on the Outer Cape, where the untouched natural beauty and laid-back vibe will put you at home among surfers, sun gods, and free spirits. When cocktail hour rolls around, you’ll find tourists and locals in two places: In Provincetown, the Boatslip is legendary for its 4 o’clock Tea Dance, an outdoor party that turns decidedly disco on Thursday nights. For the flip-flops and shorts set, it’s the Beachcomber in Wellfleet, home to the “Goombay Smash” cocktail and front-row views of Cahoon Hollow Beach.

For Sophisticates
For those who know that there’s no greater luxury than an ocean view, the grand dame resorts of the Cape call for a serious toast. In Chatham, the Beach House at Chatham Bars Inn offers knockout views worthy of the splurge on a signature cocktail and locally-caught fish tacos or lobster nachos. Nearby, the outer bar and grille at Wequassett Resort pairs a to-die-for setting on Pleasant Bay with fare to match; you could practically lean off the deck and pluck those oysters from the water yourself. Same goes at Ocean Edge Terrace in Brewster (the oysters come from its Bay Pines Beach), where heaven is some small plates to share, a signature “sipper,” and a spot by the fire bowl on the outdoor patio. On the heated rooftop deck of the Pelham House Resort in Dennis Port, your fresh sea snacks and craft cocktail are accompanied by sweeping views of Nantucket Sound.

Photo credit:
Ocean House Restaurant