These Are Some of the Oldest Bars in Cincinnati for When You Want to Grab a Historic Drink
Settled is 1788, Cincinnati is definitely an old city, so it makes sense we have quite the collection of historic drinking establishments. From dive bars to high-end lounges, all of these Queen City bars have been serving the city for a long time.
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3245 Jefferson Ave., Clifton
Before opening as a bar in the 1930s, Fries Cafe was a Kroger grocery store. It offers a large selection of craft beers on tap. If you’re in the mood for games, Fries offers three floors of shuffleboard, dart boards and pool tables. Head out back and check out the massive patio set-up.
210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Downtown's Arnold's Bar & Grill is renowned for being the oldest continuously operating drinking destination in Cincinnati — one of the oldest in America, in fact, at 160 years. There's the infamous Arnold's bathtub, reportedly used to make bootleg gin during Prohibition. And another rumor that the building was once a whorehouse. There is even a rumor that this bar filled with spirits (as in alcohol) is full of spirits (as in dead people).
936 Hatch St., Mount Adams
Mount Adams’ favorite backyard bar since 1963. Walk down a set of stairs to find a secret, little hideaway. Outside, the relaxed garden patio is like a boho blend of Bourbon Street and Paris café life. With frequent live music, it’s one of the most romantic drinking destinations in the city.
25 W. Ogden Place, Downtown
This downtown classic labels itself as “Cincinnati’s Second Oldest Bar” right behind Arnold's Bar & Grill. You can get a beer or an iced-cold mixed drink here, but they also serve food. Grab a fish sandwich, a reuben or check out the Ultimate Italian Smasher made with capicola, pepperoni, salami, provolone and banana peppers.
403 Oregon St., Mount Adams
A hillside dive and home of one of the best spicy bloody marys and best views in town. The burgers are damn tasty, too. Once a former grocery store and taproom, the historic space has been around in some iteration since the 1870s.
27 S. Broadway, Lebanon
Jonas Seaman came to Ohio from New Jersey in 1803 and opened the Golden Lamb. In a time when many couldn’t read, the business was marked by a symbol, not a name: a golden lamb. Present-day, the historic hotel and restaurant, in the heart of the Lebanon DORA district, has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. The attached Black Horse Tavern is a more casual dining spot on the backside of the hotel that serves specialty cocktails and beers on draft, including the Black Horse Golden Lager.
625 Main St., Downtown
This historic and recently restored bar has a classic, homey feel. The affordable menu matches its relaxed vibe, and offerers everything from cocktails and 25-ounce Huedepohl schooners to draft beers. The business dates all the way back to 1817 when it was located along the riverfront on Water Street. It moved up to Fifth Street due to flooding. In 1962, the Bay Horse moved to its current location on Main Street and then closed in 2004. It was reopened in 2017.
958 Pavilion St., Mount Adams
Crowleys has made a name for itself by offering tons of beers on draft in an unpretentious atmosphere. The bar was established in 1937 by Bill Specs Crowley. They put on quite a party for Saint Patricks Day and the Labor Day fireworks.
718 W. Pike St., Covington
Open in 1939 as Heine’s Café, the small drop-ceilinged dining room is what some may call a “hole in the wall.” Their incredibly friendly staff serves up simple but delectable made-to-order burgers. Their speciality is a juicy meat patty topped with cheese, onions and pickles; a shortlist of sides includes chili, soup or Husman’s chips. Grab one of their self-described "coldest beer since 1939."
35 W. Fifth St., Downtown
Nestled inside Carew Towers historic Art Deco Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza sits the Bar at Palm Court. The cocktail bar offers up classic drinks, live Jazz and an expanded bar menu. The hotel opened in 1931 and has been listed as a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1991.
302 E. University Ave., Corryville
For a taste of Zinzinnatis German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. Their specialty is wienerschnitzel, a tender, pan-fried veal cutlet topped with lemon; its served with red cabbage. They have plenty of German beers on tap, along with some local microbrews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, its also one of Cincinnatis oldest restaurants, having been open since 1865.