All I can tell you about Applebee’s is their booze is good and cheap!!! (Just out of curiosity which one are you going to since you are semi-local to me)
The one by me (Eatontown) has a great outdoor bar, fire pit and outside lounge area, which is also cigar friendly. I went with my son about a year ago and we just had some cocktails at the outside bar. We had a few rounds and when I asked for the check I was shocked at the drink prices (low) so I questioned the bartender about it, specifically asking if it was a late night happy hour or something?
He took my inquiry as a complaint and next thing I knew I had a manager asking me if I had some question on my check. So I repeated my question asking if it was a late night happy hour, he said “no”, so i was like these are just your normal prices? He looked at the check and confirmed and I said, “wow I’ve gotta come here more often” then he realized I wasn’t arguing the price, just genuinely impressed by them. I think their martini’s were $5? (not house booze)
So I suggest you eat before you go, say you have a tummy ache and just have a couple martini’s and enjoy your friends! Best of luck!