Best Of 2019

With a month-long celebration for most of the 2010s, Cincinnati has honored the legacy of King Records, the locally-based record company whose impact on everything from the music industry to the sound of popular music today cannot be overstated. Last year, the city-wide celebration of King’s outsized influence on American culture was even bigger due to it being the 75th anniversary of the label’s first recording session. King Records Month has been honored each September for the past six years, timed to when founder Syd Nathan put his plan to launch a record label into action, enlisting Country music entertainers Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis in 1943 to record the first music for the venture. For the 75th-anniversary edition of the celebration last year, the events (from musical presentations and film screenings to lectures and panel discussions) couldn’t be contained to September’s 30 days, launching Aug. 25 with “Celebrate the King: The Gala” at Memorial Hall, which featured video tributes, live performances and the doling out of Lifetime Achievement Awards to King greats Bootsy Collins, Henry Glover, Philip Paul and Otis Williams, with the artists and/or their family members on hand to participate in the commemorative festivities. Besides the 75-year tie-in, King Records Month 2018 was also different due the substantial progress being made in both preserving the original King site in Evanston and taking the spirit of King further in the 21st century. In April, the city of Cincinnati took control of the old King building from the property’s owners, who had been threatening demolition. Plans for the site aren’t concrete yet, but various local nonprofit organizations envision things like a museum, studio, educational outpost and community space for the Evanston area. A 2002 album paying tribute to King Records’ artists and recordings was titled Hidden Treasures; nearly 20 years later, King’s crucial history is no longer a buried secret. King’s importance in bridging musical styles like R&B, Country and Rock & Roll is now far more widely acknowledged and its hometown is making sure that it will remain a living, breathing entity for years to come.

Music & Nightlife


2. The Blind Lemon

3. The Overlook Lodge

2. Sundry and Vice

3. MOTR Pub

2. Dutch’s

3. Oakley Pub and Grill

2. Fox & Hound

3. Back Porch Saloon

2. Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar

3. Bobby Mackey’s

2. The Crow’s Nest

3. Knotty Pine Rock Club & Tiki Bar

2. MOTR Pub

3. The Southgate House Revival

2. The Southgate House Revival

3. Madison Theater

2. Sundry and Vice

3. Queen City Exchange

2. Molly Wellmann (Japp’s)

3. Sara Hutslar (MadTree Brewing)

2. Giacomo Ciminello (Night Drop)

3. Nick Squeri (Queen City Exchange)

2. Higher Gravity

3. Queen City Exchange

If there’s one thing Cincinnatians love more than a local brewery, it’s a local brewery with an outdoor drinking area — especially if that drinking area happens to be elevated (cough Rhinegeist cough). So when Braxton Brewing Co. announced a $5 million expansion plan in January, which includes a 5,000-square-foot rooftop deck, it just gave us one more reason to love the Cov and Braxton. The plan permits the brewery to ramp up annual production to 30,000 barrels to allow them to better serve beer drinkers locally and throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Renderings show astroturf, lawn games (aka cornhole), outdoor seating, string lights and fire pits plus a view of the city. The upstairs bar will pour Braxton brews and serve cocktails and the brewery’s new Vive hard seltzer. The rooftop is currently under construction and is expected to open in summer 2019. Braxton Brewing Co., 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, braxtonbrewing.com.

2. Arnold’s Bar & Grill

3. Hang Over Easy

4. The Eagle OTR

5. Northside Yacht Club

6. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

7. Higher Gravity

8. Taste of Belgium

9. Redwine & Co.

10. S.W. Clyborne Co.

Best Bloody Mary We’ll Miss
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

At the end of February 2019, The Anchor-OTR announced it was closing its doors after seven years of slinging super-fresh seafood to Cincinnatians at the corner of 14th and Race streets. It’s always sad to lose a favorite neighborhood haunt, and the loss of the Anchor will be felt quite deeply by fish fans … and bloody mary stans. The restaurant conjured up what might be the city’s most decadent drink via its Longshorman’s Bloody Mary. Named in homage of 1934’s “Bloody Thursday,” when longshoremen went on strike along the Pacific Coast, this drink balanced spice, acidity, sweetness and several sea creatures. The housemade base consisted of tomato juice, horseradish, pickle and olive juice, four different hot sauces, sugar, cayenne, garlic and a touch of umami with Old Bay seasoning. But it went big with the garnish, showcasing the Anchor’s fresh seafood with the option to add a lobster claw, shrimp or an oyster for an upcharge. It was big, bold and beautiful. And its loss is enough to shed a salty tear over.

2. Sundry and Vice

3. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar

2. Newberry Bros. Coffee & Prohibition Bourbon Bar

3. Wiseguy Lounge

2. Jungle Jim’s International Market

3. DEP’s Fine Wine and Spirits