Best Of 2019

Cincinnati musicians and mixologists MayaLou Banatwala and Kristen Kreft combined their talents and passions for their 2018 collaborative book project, Rocktails: An Amped Up Spin on Mixology. Kreft and Banatwala, who possess two of the best voices in the local music scene (showcased in their bands The Perfect Children and Heavy Hinges, respectively), were inspired to create the book after hosting regular Rocktail “pop up parties” at local bars, featuring drink menus with handcrafted cocktails inspired by a variety of musical acts, like their tribute to Siouxsie Sioux of Goth-y AltRock pioneers Siouxsie and the Banshees, which combines “the grit of pear juice with the sexy notes of round dark rum, bitter Campari, grape soda and a black licorice garnish.” The duo’s local-music roots show in other recipes. The “Dirty Blues” cocktail was inspired by area trio All Seeing Eyes and it’s incredibly imaginative, described as “Absinthe soaked, flamed candy cigarettes affixed into gummy orange slices as garnishes, atop a smokey Laphroaig rinsed whiskey and beer cocktail spiked with Watershed’s Nocino Black Walnut Liqueur.” At the book’s launch party last year, Kreft and Banatwala honored the local bands performing at the event with special new concoctions: “Peace of Mine” — dedicated to Indie Rock group Carriers (and named for one of their songs) — was a ginger-beer cocktail; and “Bottom of the Barrel,” a tribute to Lung (who were celebrating their own new release, the All the King’s Horses album, on the same night) included bourbon barrel gin and lemonade. Find out more about the book or hire the duo for your own party at

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