111 Places for Every Type of Imbiber to Throw a Few Back

The Drinking Issue

click to enlarge Homemakers Bar - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Homemakers Bar

As they say, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere — which means it’s time for a drink. Whether you’re looking for a nightlife destination to mix and mingle or a place to spend happy hour before heading home to binge-watch Netflix, there’s a bar for every vibe in Cincinnati. For this Drinking Issue we’ve divided different boozy destinations into categories to help you pick where to raise your glass next. In the mood for something new to post to your Instagram stories? There’s a bar for that. What about somewhere you can throw an axe? Sure! Want a masterful mocktail in opulent environs? We have those kinds of bars, too. And if your favorite watering hole didn’t make the list, don’t worry — plenty of great bars didn’t — which is as good a reason as any to curse CityBeat while using our free publication as a coaster during your next night out. Cheers!

New & Now 

Recent alcohol additions to the city’s drinking scene

click to enlarge Branch and Night Drop - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Branch and Night Drop

Branch: Folks from Northside’s Littlefield Restaurant Group rehabbed the historic 1920s-era Central Trust Bank building in East Walnut Hills, opening the aptly named restaurant Branch and its adjacent downstairs speakeasy Night Drop in December. Cocktails take their sobriquets from financial terms, like the Reverse Mortgage, Preferred Risk and Accelerated Depreciation, the latter of which contains bourbon, orange bitters and Dr. Pepper syrup, which is extracted from a box of fountain soda, sans carbonation. Other clever creations include habaЦero-infused Green Chartreuse, peanut-infused mezcal and spiced gin. Make sure to snap a selfie in the owl-wallpapered bathroom. 1535 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, eatatbranch.com.

Cobblestone OTR: Cobblestone is a no-frills establishment that feels like hanging out in a friend’s living room — if that living room had 15 different bourbons (Weller and Bulleit among them); two cocktails on draft, including a mightily potent Old Fashioned and Fernet-Branca; and a rotating draft beer list (Bud Light is constant). A built-in long leather seat at the back, nestled next to the restrooms, allows for shoe-shines on certain nights. 1132 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/cobblestoneotr.

Comfort Station: Located in a former 105-year-old rest area (basically a public bathroom), Comfort Station has transformed a dilapidated space into an airy nightlife destination full of hip cocktails and outdoor lounge areas. Guests can choose their own adventure when entering, opting to go through either the Women's or Men's door. Head through the bright blue ladies entrance to access the main-floor space, replete with original skylights, plush blue-velvet seating and bathrooms with two-way mirrors to watch the goings-on behind the bar (you can see out; they can't see in). From the main bar, you can access the back patio, which has multiple seating nooks, including an elevated perch with cushions. Opening later this year, the entrance through the Men's door will lead guests to an eight-seater basement cocktail lounge for “nighttime revelry and good-natured mischief." 793 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, searchable on Facebook.

click to enlarge Comfort Station - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Comfort Station

Fausto: This cafe inside the Contemporary Arts Center from brothers Tony and Austin Ferrari plays off of the artful surroundings to craft a menu of thoughtfully designed and seasonal cuisine. Dishes range from chia seed pudding and baked eggs to smoked white fish tartine and handmade linguini with clams. In addition to a craft coffee menu based off of a specialty Deeper Roots Coffee blend, the cocktail list features modern mixes like the Refreshing as Yoko (pamplemouse, Aperol, grapefruit bitters, sparkling wine and rosemary) and wines that run the gamut from red to white to sparkling with a special Ferrari Bros. rose. 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, faustoatthecac.com.

HighGrain Brewing Co.: Located in the former Silverton Memorial Municipal Building, HighGrain Brewing features “old-world styles with a modern twist,” like their Switch oatmeal stout with chocolate, coffee and nuts, and the Monarch IPA, with Citra and Idaho Gem hops. The food menu from their in-house chef includes options for vegetarians, meat-eaters and kids. With a focus on sustainability, the brewery is also 100-percent powered by wind, and their Norwegian Table Ale is carbon neutral. 6860 Plainfield Road, Silverton, highgrainbrewing.com.

Holiday Spirits: Helmed by Dan Wright and his wife Lana (Senate, Abigail Street and Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ), this space at the corner of Liberty and Race streets is meant to evoke the vibe of a dive bar and offers a menu of Middle Eastern street food. The bar features 15 beers on tap and about 10 different cocktails ranging from a tequila old fashioned and a Hurricane to a Cinnabon-inspired drink and their take on a Harvey Wallbanger. 1538 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/holidayspiritsbar.

click to enlarge Holiday Spirits - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Holiday Spirits

Homemakers Bar: Inspired by a retro vibe and the domestic cocktails of the 1950s through the 1970s, Homemakers Bar has a unique focus on design (with groovy pink, blue and yellow paint colors) and nontraditional spirits with a drink program featuring lesser-known liqueurs including Italian tinctures, herbal wines and low-proof cocktails, along with modern and classic drinks. The food menu offers delightfully nostalgic bites like finger sandwiches, homemade snack mix and dips, some served on lunch trays. 35 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, homemakersbar.com.

Locoba by Platform: The Cleveland-based Platform Beer Co.’s bar and coffee concept on Main Street serves brews, beans and bites. As the first Platform location not styled as a brewery, Locoba (which stands for "local coffee barrels”) serves Brown Bear pastries and cafe-style foods, Platform brews on tap and in cans and cocktails. It also features a full-service coffee and espresso bar with Ohio-roasted beans. 1201 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/locobaplatform.

Oddfellows Liquor Bar: Columbus-based watering hole Oddfellows Liquor Bar is an eccentrically-themed place to hang out and drink. Attached to its sister operation, Mikey’s Late Night Slice on Elm Street, it’s almost too convenient that the bar is located next door to everyone’s favorite drunken food craving — only a fool would pass on the opportunity to follow liquor with pizza. Oddfellows features 16 beers on tap and a seasonal cocktail menu. 2014 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, oddfellowsliquorbar.com.

Rich’s Proper Food & Drink: Rich’s Proper Food & Drink operates out of the more than 100-year-old building formerly occupied by Rich’s Gruen Watches, a high-end jewelry store. Owner/operator of the eatery, Bill Whitlow, spent considerable time and effort restoring the building, helping to expose its history. The bar’s menu includes wine, beer and cocktails (the Proper Mule is jumbo-sized and hypothetically shareable), with a special emphasis on bourbon. The kitchen provides Southern fare with Creole and Kentucky influences, including raw oysters. 701 Madison Ave., Covington, richsproper.com.

Samuel Adams Cincinnati Taproom: Located across from the Samuel Adams Cincinnati Brewery at the Urban Sites’ Film Center Project adjacent to Findlay Market, the taproom, which features indoor and outdoor space, spans nearly 9,000 feet, offering an array of unique beers brewed both on-site and at the Cincinnati brewery. These include fan favorites like the Cincinnati-inspired lager 513, Boston Lager and Summer Ale, and options made specifically for the taproom. 1727 Logan St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/samadamscincy.

Best Bars

The top 10 bars as voted by CityBeat readers in the 2019 Best of Cincinnati issue

click to enlarge 16-Bit Bar+Arcade - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
16-Bit Bar+Arcade

16-Bit Bar+Arcade: The nostalgia is strong and the drinks are plenty at 16-Bit. Guzzle ’80s-themed and candy-adorned drinks with names like the Carrie Fisher (coconut rum, blueberry vodka, blue curacao, fruit juice and rock candy) while playing more than 50 different classic arcade games and pinball. The bar also offers a variety of mocktails alongside their other fun and boozy beverages; find them on the menu under “No Booze? No Problem!” If you buy a drink (whatever the ABV), you play for free. Things go all-ages noon-5 p.m. Sunday during Shorty Day. 1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 16-bitbar.com/cincy.

Arnold’s Bar & Grill: Open since 1861, Arnold’s is the oldest continuously running tavern in town, complete with dark wood walls, vintage memorabilia and a big ol’ bathtub, rumored to have been used to make gin during Prohibition. A Cincinnati classic, it serves up a nice range of lunch and dinner options — pasta, sandwiches and burgers, plus vegan and gluten-free options — at bargain prices. Enjoy a local draft in the outdoor beer garden and almost daily live music. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine, they also have a large selection of bourbon. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

Below Zero Lounge: Below Zero Lounge is an LGBTQ+ destination that puts an emphasis on the plus. On any given night you’ll see people wearing tuxes and gowns sipping on cocktails beside people in T-shirts and flip-flops. Nestled snuggly between the nightlife action in OTR and plenty of trendy theater destinations, these two facts become specifically important during Thursday night karaoke, when it’s not uncommon for local talent or actors from traveling Broadway shows to hop onstage to belt their own takes on karaoke classics. Every Friday and Saturday night, the upstairs Cabaret turns out the city’s most intimate and entertaining drag shows. 1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, belowzerolounge.com.

The Birdcage: The Birdcage is an LGBTQ+ nightclub and lounge that opened in late October 2018 as a no-judgement zone with a state-of-the-art sound system and plenty of velvet couches. The spirited environment has rubbed off on the colorful cocktails, which are named after tropical birds — all featuring fresh juices, fun alcohol and candied garnishes from local candy shop Peter Minges & Sons. The menu also features large-format and booze-filled Fish Bowls. Check the calendar for events like Broadway singalongs, Salsa nights, drag shows, karaoke and even dog-friendly yappy hours. 927 Race St., Downtown, birdcagecincinnati.com.

Higher Gravity: These guys really want to help you love beer — so much so that they’ve installed iPads around the store to help you browse their inventory and find your perfect brew. Let their friendly “beeristas” pour you a flight: this neighborhood bar and bottle shop has more than 500-plus rotating beer selections and 100 wines. Higher Gravity is kid- and dog-friendly, as well as B.Y.O.F. (bring your own food, or order in something tasty from one of their Northside neighbors), plus they have a cool garage door that turns the bar indoor-outdoor. 4106 Hamilton Ave., Northside, highergravitycrafthaus.com.

MOTR Pub: Helmed by veteran Cincinnati music promoters, MOTR Pub is unique. It hosts some of the best live shows in the city, seven nights a week, highlighting local and touring Indie, Rock and Folk acts (sometimes even poetry nights) — all without a cover. And it ain’t just about the music; it’s also about the “pub.” The well-crafted brunch, lunch and dinner menu incorporates local ingredients to create a streamlined selection of hearty vegan, vegetarian and meaty options — burgers, salads and classic bar bites — available until late-night. Drinks are strong, not fussy, and so is the staff. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.

Northside Yacht Club: An homage to the neighborhood’s flood of 1937, this loosely nautically themed Rock club and gastropub specializes in smoked wings (chicken and/or cauliflower), live music and fresh cocktails of the tiki persuasion. The well-stocked bar — replete with gigantic Hula-girl punch bowls awaiting the bartender’s mixology magic and a lighter to set them on fire — features fresh juice mixtures, stacks of fragrant pineapple and bowls of herbal garnishes. But one of the best bar specials is the Peanut Butter Tequila house shot. If you don’t want the protein, go for something sailor-strength, like the Painkiller: Pusser’s British Navy rum, pineapple, orange, coconut and nutmeg. 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com.

click to enlarge Northside Yacht Club - Photo: Jesse Fox
Photo: Jesse Fox
Northside Yacht Club

Queen City Exchange: Queen City Exchange is Cincinnati’s first and only stock exchange-themed bar, featuring 40-something beers on tap with prices that rise and fall depending on demand. Costs fluctuate between $3.50 to $9 — check the board for up-to-date numbers. When the market crashes, it’s time to buy, buy, buy and chug, chug, chug. For more gaming, visit during Boozy Bingo or Trivia Tuesday. 32 W. Court St., Downtown, queencityexchange.com.

Queen City Radio: This former auto body shop turned multi-level OTR hang features rotating taps of local, regional and national beer, canned and bottled brews, a small cocktail program and adult-themed treats including boozy slushies. Garage doors create indoor/outdoor space and the patio boasts not only a ton of seating, but also the on-site Queen City Whip food truck. 222 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, qcrbar.com.

Sundry and Vice: Sundry and Vice creates curative cocktails in apothecary-inspired environs: amber glass medicine bottles, vintage pharmacy signs and wallpaper made of old prescriptions (even some for cocaine) set the mood as be-aproned bartenders meticulously craft libations full of texture, color and flavor. And though they may not be backed by “science,” the elixirs are the perfect remedy for a sour mood. Or just sling back an Old Fashioned on draft (quicker than those drinks shaken and strained by hand). 18 W. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, sundryandvice.com.

Rad Rooftops

Elevate your happy hour

click to enlarge 21c Museum Hotel Cocktail Terrace - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
21c Museum Hotel Cocktail Terrace

21c Museum Hotel: Take a secret service elevator up to the 11th floor of the 21c Museum Hotel to discover the Cocktail Terrace, a hip 75-seat oasis with cushy patio furniture and glass partitions for full views of downtown’s glowing nighttime cityscape. Along with clever cocktails, the terrace is known for its boozy slushies — try the Ed Sheeran with your choice of alcohol and ginger beer — and pop-tails, aka cocktails with a submerged flavored ice pop. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati. 

AC Upper Deck: On top of the AC Hotel at The Banks, the Upper Deck boasts excellent views of the riverfront and Great American Ball Park. Lounge under string lights while gorging on Grand Slam Nachos (salsa, guac, cheddar, nacho cheese, jalapeЦos, corn, black beans, onions, olives, sour cream and carnitas or chicken on tortilla chips). 135 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, acupperdeck.com.

The Blind Pig: This friendly downtown pub has a shaded rooftop patio — on top of Lola’s coffee shop — that serves a full menu of bar food and daily drink specials. A perfect stop for a Reds pregame party. Try whatever is on special that day. Tuesdays its $3 Fireball and Tullamore Dew shots... and karaoke. 24 W. Third St., Downtown, facebook.com/theblindpigcincinnati

Gaslight Bar & Grill: The Gaslight Bar & Grill is located in the old Clifton branch of the public library. It serves lunch and dinner six days a week, and includes an expansive bar with a dozen seats and Clifton’s first rooftop patio. 351 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, facebook.com/gaslightbarandgrillclifton.

Top of the Park at The Phelps: On the roof of this downtown hotel, you can catch 360-degree views of the city and the river from its vantage point at the base of Lytle Park. Amenities include tabletop fire features, TVs and live music, plus a tapas menu with snack options like sliders, charcuterie and chocolate churros. 506 E. Fourth St., Downtown, topoftheparkcincinnati.com/top-of-the-park.htm.

click to enlarge The View at Shires' Garden - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The View at Shires' Garden

The View at Shires’ Gardens: The View at Shires’ Garden is located on the 10th floor of the City Club Apartments. The 6,000-square-foot rooftop spot features an indoor dining room, an outdoor patio, two full bars, outdoor small and group dining and cocktail tables with impeccable views. The dОcor mixes modern furnishings with the style of the original Shires’ Gardens from the 19th century — a historic Queen City amusement resort of sorts in this same spot at Vine and Third streets. 309 Vine St., Downtown, theviewatshiresgarden.com.

Cocktail Clubs

Masterful mixology sets these bars apart

The Bar at Palm Court - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Bar at Palm Court

The Bar at Palm Court: Entering this lobby-level bar with French Art Deco dОcor in the historic Hilton Netherland Plaza is like stepping into an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Sidle up to the bar — if you’re lucky enough to find a stool — and peruse the drink menu, which offers classic cocktails like the Chef’s Old Fashioned and the NP, a best-of-both-worlds cocktail that pairs bourbon with something bubbly. Named after the Netherland Plaza, the cocktail features Four Roses yellow label bourbon, lemon, ginger, bitters and sparkling wine. It’s light, refreshing and still packs a boozy punch. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington: This boutique Covington hotel offers a fine selection of in-house eateries and drinkeries that’ll make you never want to leave. The cocktail menu has house options and seasonal drinks that make use of Kentucky bourbon, creative infusions and fresh fruit and herbs. If you’re feeling stuffy, escape to the patio for a breather and you’ll be swept away into a sun-dappled, brick-paved paradise. 638 Madison Ave., Covington, hotelcovington.com.

The Littlefield: This Northside bar and bistro specializes in whiskey — from small-batch bourbons and ryes to white dogs and Japanese Hibiki — and cozy eats, like an artful pot pie and Sixteen Bricks bread with blue-cheese bourbon butter. Clever cocktails highlight verdant and floral flavors, like in the Mad Anthony, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, basil simple syrup, balsamic vinaigrette and housemade ginger beer. 3934 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, littlefieldns.com.

Longfellow: With a focus on flavor, the cocktails here are dangerously drinkable. While selections change frequently, mainstay bevvies include the Spruce Goose (barrel-aged gin, honey, lime, bitters and tonic) and Shiso Painkiller (navy rum, shiso, orange, coconut and nutmeg). The beer menu is as extensive as it is impressive, with selections from Oregon, Germany and Japan, and you won’t be bored by the bar snacks, either — food options range from late-night pierogies and caviar to liverwurst and cottage cheese. A fun pay-it-forward menu allows you to buy drinks for friends, strangers and crushes. 1233 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, longfellowbar.com

Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar: This shotgun-style wood-lined watering hole houses a mind-boggling bourbon selection — more than 300 bottles on floor-to-ceiling shelves — served in snifters by a well-educated, passionate staff. Try a curated flight or an expertly crafted classic whiskey cocktail, like a Kentucky mule, boulevardier or horse’s neck. 629 Main St., Covington, oldkybourbonbar.com.

Overlook Lodge: A bar inspired by Stephen King’s The Shining, Overlook Lodge brings a bit of movie magic to life with its giant Overlook Hotel-inspired fireplace and eerie backlit bar. Try a themed cocktail like the Writer’s Block (bourbon and apple-berry sweet tea) or Bathtub Gin (Beefeater, Chartreuse, ginger, lime and bitters). Combine the themed atmosphere with live music on the weekends and housemade trail mix, and this Pleasant Ridge locale guarantees some much-needed play after a hard day’s work. 6083 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, thatshiningbar.com.

click to enlarge Please - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Please: This au courant culinary hideaway on Clay Street in Over-the-Rhine offers a constantly creative and frequently updated a la carte and four-course tasting menu for a low-key but high-art dinner. If you don’t want to commit to a meal and are just searching for snacks and a drink, the back bar offers both (and the full food menu until 10 p.m. every night). The 12-seater self-described garden bar has natural wines (sup, orange wine?), local and European beers and trendy cocktails and spirits that utilize fresh flavors. The latest wave embraced by the bar team at Please is the low-proof cocktail trend. 1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, pleasecincinnati.com.

The Video Archive: Named in honor of the video rental store where director Quentin Tarantino once worked, The Video Archive is a video store that doubles as a speakeasy, like a Blockbuster with a back-alley bar. Upon entering, you’d think you’ve arrived at an indie flick shop, until you discover the secret door — opened by selecting a specific VHS movie from the shelves — that leads you to the booze room full of rotating Tarantino-themed drinks with hip ingredients like mezcal, Aperol, green tea syrup, Yellow Chartreuse and sparkling sake. 965 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills, facebook.com/videoarchivecincinnati.


Outdoor drinking with Bavarian flair (or just picnic tables)

click to enlarge Mecca OTR - Photo: Brittany Thornton
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Mecca OTR

Darkness Brewing: Longtime friends Eric Bosler and Ron Sanders were homebrewing for years before opening their own taproom in Bellevue. It started with experimenting in their own kitchens, enjoying their strange brews and sharing them with friends. And it was poking and prodding from those friends that led to Darkness Brewing, which opened in July 2016. The microbrewery focuses on the dark and unusual. 224 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, facebook.com/darknessbrewing.

Dutch’s: Dutch’s pony keg turned bar, bottle shop and artisanal larder is an East Side hang with an expansive kitchen, pantry and patio, complete with a fire pit and backyard bocce court. Pair one of 200 different available wines or craft on-tap beers with farmstead cheeses, natural meats or snacks like truffle popcorn. Thursday is Burger Night, with a special one-night-only gourmet burger available from 6 p.m. until they sell out. 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, dutchs.squarespace.com.

click to enlarge Findlay Market - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Findlay Market

Findlay Market Biergarten: Summertime means extended hours at this Over-the-Rhine drinking destination. Grab a bite, sit on the iconic red Findlay Market chairs and sip on something cold while the sun goes down. On Tuesdays, it's Mug Club night: get $1 off all drafts (with an additional $1 off during happy hour from 4-6 p.m.). Open through October. 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, findlaymarket.org.

Hofbräuhaus: Opened in 2003, the Newport HofbrКuhaus was the first HofbrКuhaus brewery and beer hall to open in the United States. Beers are brewed on-site in the original Munich tradition (under the license and supervision of Staatliches HofbrКuhaus in MЯnchen), with a keg tapping of seasonal brews the final Wednesday of each month. Buy a liter of beer and keep the stein for $12. 200 E. Third St., Newport, hofbrauhausnewport.com.

Kreimer’s Bierhaus: Located in the backyard of Kreimer’s Bierhaus, this Bavarian biergarten on the Great Miami River has three decks, fire pits and a ton of Black Forest-inspired wood features, from picnic seating to a whimsical cuckoo-clock-looking German grill house, which serves snacks like sauerkraut balls, pretzel bread, bier cheese and plenty of meaty metts. 6052 State Route 128, Cleves, bierhauswest.net.

Landlocked Social House: Landlocked Social House covers the socially acceptable drinking needs of an entire day in one place — and with gusto — so customers can always be caffeinated and buzzed. This is achieved by offering a solid third wave coffee and espresso menu alongside an extensive selection of beers, ciders and wines which can be sipped al fresco in their breezy, plant-filled back patio. 648 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, landlockedsocialhouse.com.

Little Miami Brewing Company: Milford’s Little Miami Brewing Company sits on the banks of its namesake river, pouring 11 beers alongside a selection of brick-oven pizzas. The small-batch brewery offers 16 different brews on tap, from classics to experimentals and seasonals made with real fruit, like their Blackbird Fly American wheat made with blackberry puree. 208 Mill St., Milford, littlemiamibrewing.com.

Mecklenburg Gardens: It's Oktoberfest all year long at this historic German eatery. Wash down your triple goettawurst and spaetzle with a 1-liter glass boot of doppelbock or hefeweizen in the grape-vine-laden outdoor biergarten. Founded in 1865, it was named one of the best biergartens in America by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2017. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.com.

Mecca OTR: This hip OTR hideaway is a welcoming hangout for those interested in L.A. vibes, vinyl tunes and free popcorn. Find the main courtyard entrance tucked away down 15th Street, and cross the big-ass gravel patio, past colorful street-art murals, a panoply of rainbow lighting and a plethora of communal seating to enter a world of hanging plants (in summer the patio is decked out in greenery as well) and the most creatively decorated — dare we say selfie-ready — bar bathrooms in the city. Dogs are welcome, as long as it’s not too crowded. 1429 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/meccaotr.

Wunderbar: Rhineland ambiance with wooden picnic tables and German signage and a beer garden out back. Food options include giant pretzels, sauerkraut, sausage and doner kabobs, one of Germany’s favorite street-food dishes. The beer menu features staples such as Franziskaner and Warsteiner. 1132 Lee St., Covington, facebook.com/wunderbar.covington.3.

Wine & Dine

Destinations that excel at offering vino varietals plus shareable plates

click to enlarge Ripple Wine Bar - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Ripple Wine Bar

Crafts & Vines: Crafts & Vines was the first bar in Northern Kentucky to offer wine on tap, but it also offers several by the glass or bottle. The layout of the space has an informal vibe that’s intimate and warm, with a front bar, retail wine offerings and a few sidewalk tables. Owners try to focus on atypical wines by the glass and Kentucky beers. Food items include bar bites like black truffle burrata, olives and Truck Stop Charcuterie with housemade beef jerky, maple Sriracha bacon and pimento cheese. 642 Main St., Covington, craftsandvines.com.

Fairfield Market: This cafe and bar offers a streamlined selection of pastries, picnic salads, sandwiches and charcuterie complemented by morning coffee and evening libations — house cocktails and a rotating wine and beer selection. With original terrazzo and vintage dОcor mixed with contemporary furniture, the vibe is Palm Desert meets Midcentury Modern. Food service focuses on seasonal and locally sourced items with dinner and brunch programs forthcoming. 700 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, thefairfieldbellevue.com.

LouVino: Take your taste buds on a journey from the marigold-lined pathways of ChЙteau Guiraud in France to the Alps-framed Castelfeder winery in northern Italy — all while dining at LouVino in Over-the-Rhine. The concept restaurant on Main Street offers 60 wines by the glass as well as small plates inspired by Southern cuisine. You’ll see some familiar names on the wine list, as flights are named after Ohio and Kentucky celebrities like Carmen Electra and John Legend. And there are two food menus: classics and seasonal. 1142 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, louvino.com/otr.

click to enlarge Mom 'n 'em - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Mom 'n 'em

Mom ‘n ‘em: Helmed by brothers Tony and Austin Ferrari in a converted 19th-century home in Camp Washington, Mom ‘n ‘em coffee shop and wine bar sparkles with Italian vibrancy and straightforwardness. There’s a diverse offering of wines selected by certified sommelier Austin, and the idea, he says, is to be meaningful but playful. Food includes tinned fish, cheeses, cured meats, pastries from North South Baking in Covington and sandwiches. To whom it may concern: They have a full liquor license with cocktails like a classic negroni and Manhattan, and a smart selection of beer in their cooler. 3128 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, momnemcoffee.com.

Oakley Wines: Oakley Wines started as a boutique bottle shop just off the main drag in Oakley. And then it became more than a neighborhood hang when upward of 100 people started stopping in for Friday-night wine tastings. So, expanding with demand, they revamped the basement into The Cellar bar. The subterranean space features a full drink list, with wine and beer on tap, and upscale snacks. Recently taken over by the owners of The Rhined cheese shop, the bar has been featuring new dining pop-ups and events overseen by chef Lydia Jackman. 4011 Allston St., Oakley, facebook.com/oakleywines.

Revel OTR: This unpretentious boutique winery and event space specializes in promoting local, regional and family-owned wineries. Revel makes its own small-batch house wine and serves it in juice glasses. Grab a flight of three 6-ounce or 9-ounce pours, served in carafes so you can drink and discover on your own time. They also carry fun wine cocktails and plenty of meat and veggie charcuterie. Look for a rooftop patio coming later this year. 111 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, revelotr.com.

Ripple Wine Bar: Inspired by the title of a Grateful Dead song, Ripple Wine Bar is one of those sweet little spots that hits all the right notes: good wine, lots of it, paired with good food. The bar offers 40 varietals by the glass or half glass, bottle or half bottle and also does a $10 half-bottle happy hour for gun-shy consumers or folks dining solo. The menu’s overall vibe is laid-back, a true “California kitchen,” with wine-friendly food that’s seasonally inspired. Bread is from Covington’s Pepe Cucina, cheddar comes from Walnut Hills’ Urban Stead and look for Newport’s Grateful Grahams in dessert options. 4 W. Pike St., Covington, ripplewinebar.com.

Somm Wine Bar: This worthy wine destination is in the Incline District in Price Hill. Somm Wine Bar offers a large patio with tables and lounge chairs, live music on Fridays and weekday specials. You’ll find a lot of food choices — from the light fare you expect at a wine bar to several more substantial entrОes. 3105 Price Ave., East Price Hill, sommwinebarcincinnati.com.

Game Bars

Libation locations with an interactive edge

click to enlarge Pins Mechanical Co. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Pins Mechanical Co.

Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition: The boozy version of the local Arcade Legacy chain blends pinball, retro arcade games and classic console play with alcohol and Avril-Bleh hot dogs (plus vegan options, massive nachos and sides). Monday Night Fights are for serious players, and there’s a high-score board for some local fame. All games — except pinball — are free to play if you buy drinks or food. If you don’t want booze, they also offer inventive sodas. 3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, arcadelegacyohio.com/bar-edition.

Fowling Warehouse: This unique entertainment franchise capitalizes on the up-and-coming tailgating game, which combines bowling and football. Located in the Highland Park industrial complex of Pleasant Ridge, the warehouse stretches 46,000 square feet and offers 30 total lanes of fowling, two full-service bars, a stage and a large biergarten. Great for individuals, groups, parties and corporate outings, the general objective of fowling is to knock over the opponent's bowling pins with a football before they knock yours down. Guests can either reserve a lane or enjoy open play. 2940 Highland Ave. #230, Pleasant Ridge, fowlingwarehouse.com.

Hoppin Vines: Located in the former TGI Fridays in Kenwood, Hoppin’ Vines combines duckpin bowling, pizza and alcohol. The bar offers 40 rotating beer taps with a focus on craft brews — local, regional and national — plus more than 30 wine flights. The bar is also home to an outpost of Delicio Coal Fired Pizza. 8150 Montgomery Road, Madeira, hoppinvines.com.

Pins Mechanical Co.: Pins Mechanical Company features multiple levels of gaming with duckpin bowling, vintage pinball machines, ping pong, foosball and a rooftop patio with bocce ball and fire pits. The bowling lanes are first come, first served, so it is recommended that guests come early to get their name in the queue, grab a drink and enjoy one of their other games while they wait. Pins boasts three bars (two inside and one on the patio) with 36 craft beers on tap, plus signature and seasonally rotating cocktails. 1124 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, pinsbar.com/cincy.

Urban Axes: At Urban Axes, you throw an actual 1.5-pound hatchet at a wooden target. You can either schedule a 2.5-hour group event with safety instructions, throwing practice and a round-robin tournament, or you can wing it and hope it isn't busy and opt for walk-in session. During the hour-long walk-in, different "axeperts" will help you hone your skills. The Cincinnati location of Urban Axes differs from other axe places in the area because it has a bar. Yes, axes and booze! 2010 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, urbanaxes.com/cincinnati.

Dog-Friendly Destinations

For 10/10 very good bois and their humans

click to enlarge Hightail Mount Adams - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Hightail Mount Adams

Hightail Mount Adams: This hillside watering hole, inspired by mid-19th-century whaling clubs in New England, gives a warm welcome to everyone who walks in the door. With an enormous selection of bourbons and beer, this is the perfect place to wet your whistle. But maybe the best thing about Hightail is that they encourage all tails, especially during their Sunday Yappy Hour from 4-8 p.m., where you’ll receive special deals and your pup will receive some yummy treats. It’s a neighborly place where they not only know your name, but also your dog’s name, too. 941 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, hightailmtadams.com.

Liberty’s Bar & Bottle: Liberty’s offers the best of both the bar and the bottle with 20 rotating craft beers on tap and 15 wines available by the glass — including half-pours — along with 100 bottles of wine and 40 craft beers via retail. Dogs are welcome and you’ll frequently find one or two snoozing under their owners’ stools at the bar. 1427 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook.

The Porch at Washington Park : The Porch at Washington Park just got an upgrade: a brand-new permanent roof, bartop and additional seating. Add public party games to the selection of local beer from breweries like Taft’s Ale House, Rhinegeist, Fifty West and Christian Moerlein and you’ve got a space for happy-hour-goers, families and competitive gamers alike. The Washington Park dog park is within spitting distance of the porch. Owners can bring their drinks inside the doggie play paradise, and dog-less humans can watch pups from the porch — or get right in the mix and pet stranger’s dogs while sipping rosО. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.

Rosedale OTR: When Neons closed in 2016, people were devastated to lose “OTR’s backyard.”  Then, 4EG — the entertainment group behind Lackman, Mount Adams Pavilion, Igby’s and more — announced they’d be taking over the space. After some upscale renovations, they reopened as Rosedale in January 2018. It’s a little more classed up than comfy-old Neons but has retained the former’s focus on craft cocktails… and the giant, dog-friendly patio. Sip discount drinks from the monthly $3 menu then grab some grub and support your community at the MORTAR Mess Hall, where food entrepreneurs hone their skills in a professional setting. 208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, rosedaleotr.com.

Second Place : Catch the game and enjoy a selection of booze on tap, bottled, canned and a few (kind of) fancy cocktails. This bar boasts a pool table, courtyard, board games darts, a carry-in menu from The Littlefield and early morning soccer. What else? Free popcorn. And dogs. 3936 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, facebook.com/secondplacebar. 

Streetside Brewery: From their taproom/brewery along Eastern Avenue in Columbia Tusculum, Streetside Brewery blends craft and community. With beers like their milkshake blonde Cereal Milk and a red velvet donut stout collaboration with Holtman’s Donuts, this brewery has developed a niche for having your cake and drinking it, too. The taproom frequently hosts food trucks and programmed events. Well-behaved dogs are allowed inside and on the patio. 4003 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, streetsidebrewery.com.

Woodburn Brewery: This East Walnut Hills brewery offers a plethora of creative beers, from fruity ales brewed with Yoshino cherries grown at Krohn Conservatory to the Han Solo coffee-infused blonde ale. Armed with this lineup of clever brews, they frequently host fundraisers and other events to benefit local pet rescues and animal welfare organizations. Dogs are always welcome to chill inside the taproom or outside on the patio at Woodburn, where they will receive many pets. 2800 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, woodburnbrewery.com.

Top Taprooms

The top 10 taprooms as voted by CityBeat readers

click to enlarge Braxton Brewing Co. rooftop - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Braxton Brewing Co. rooftop

3 Points Urban Brewery: It’s typically not too difficult to relax once you sit down with a pint in any brewery, but 3 Points Urban Brewery really upped the game by offering daytime coworking hours, similar to how people treat coffee shops as their remote work site. As early as 9 a.m. during the week, you can shuffle in, get a pint of their Easy Ale cream ale, or an Urbana Cafe drip coffee if the only buzz you need is a caffeine one, and do your work in the chillest of settings. The taproom is spacious and very open (with free Wi-Fi), so you can stretch your legs before the happy hour hustle is in full swing from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. 331 E. 13th St., Pendleton, 3pointsbeer.com.

Brink Brewing Co.: Voted one of the top 10 best new breweries in the U.S. by USA Today and the 2018 Very Small Brewing Company of the Year by the Brewers Association, College Hill’s Brink Brewing is a neighborhood gathering space loaded with interactive features including a 20-seater community table, reclaimed-wood bar and a gigantic Scrabble board that’s very popular with patrons after a few pints from the brewery’s wide-reaching tap list. Head to the bathroom to see more than three decades’ worth of collected beer labels from Uncle Jack — it was his fridge, chock full of artisan beers, and his neighborly values that inspired the owners to open Brink in February 2017. 5095 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, brinkbrewing.com.

Braxton Brewing Co.: Arguably one of the best reasons for Cincinnati beer drinkers to cross the Roebling Bridge into Covington, Braxton has made quite an impression on the local brewing scene. Currently undergoing a $5 million expansion, Braxton celebrated its fourth anniversary this July by opening a 5,000-square-foot rooftop patio. Rooted in the ethos and innovation forged in a Midwestern garage — founder Evan Rouse started homebrewing when he was just 16, before he could even taste his creations — Braxton’s constant evolution has yielded a Braxton Labs location in the Party Source, for super experimental brews; distribution in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee; and a forthcoming Barrel House in the former Fort Mitchell Remke Market. 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, braxtonbrewing.com.

Fifty West Brewing Company: This brewery has an excellent kitchen to complement their line of beers and makes for a satisfying table experience. If you’d like to stay on your feet while you enjoy a few pints, Fifty West has turned a stretch of Wooster Pike into a veritable outdoor recreation corridor. Across the street from the flagship brewpub sits Fifty West Canoe & Kayak, Fifty West Cycling and Fifty West Production Works (home to six sand volleyball courts). All are geared toward building community through shared experiences, which include drinking craft beer and getting outside: It’s all about an active lifestyle, says brewery co-owner Bobby Slattery. 7668 Wooster Pike, Columbia Township, fiftywestbrew.com.

Fretboard Brewing Co.: Bradley Plank, Jim Klosterman and Joe Sierra, the trio behind Blue Ash-based Fretboard Brewing Company, seek the perfect marriage of their two passions — music and beer — by providing creation spaces for local musicians to rattle off riffs while grabbing brews at the taproom. What could have simply been a traditional German-bier-inspired brewery was electrified into an incredibly active live music venue with a pro grade sound system. Fretboard’s main stage hosts live performances nearly every night, putting an emphasis on the sort of rootsy Blues tunes and Americana that are nearly synonymous with microbrewed beverages. Maybe the consistent barrage of sonic waves positively affects fermentation? 5800 Creek Road, Blue Ash, fretboardbrewing.com.

click to enlarge MadTree - Photo: Phillip Heidenreich
Photo: Phillip Heidenreich

MadTree Brewing: MadTree’s million-dollar makeover did not disappoint. The hugely expanded operation on Madison Road is bigger on all fronts, including its 10,000-square-foot beer garden. With 32 MadTree-exclusive taps, ambient lighting and an industrial brick faНade leftover from the building’s factory days, there’s more than enough space to accommodate all the beer-drinking, cornhole-playing, dog-loving humans that hang at MadTree on the regular. Bonus: The expansion also included bigger bathrooms. 3301 Madison Road, Oakley, madtreebrewing.com

Rhinegeist: Some out-of-towners might not even know there is a Cincinnati outside of Rhinegeist. This brewery has taken over the local beer scene in recent years thanks in part to their phenomenal branding and, overall, thanks to consistently solid beers. The taproom is like an adult playground with so much room for activities. Their 25,000-square-foot warehouse tucked away on the north end of Elm is home to boozy alchemy and big house parties. Head upstairs to the weather-dependent giant patio. This very chill wooden rooftop deck features ample seating and an upstairs bar with 15 draft beers and ciders, plus a selection of wine and draft cocktails. If you get hungry, try a burger from downstairs Sartre, delivered to you via pneumatic tube (just like The Jetsons). We live in a golden age of convenience. 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.

Taft’s Ale House: Taft’s Brewing Co. renovated a historic church for its Ale House in OTR, which led to an impressive home base for the company. Named for William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and former Cincinnatian, black-and-white Taft photos and memorabilia are scattered throughout the three levels of the 13,000-square-foot space. There are beer hall-style communal picnic tables on the first floor, a speakeasy-type lounge named Nellie’s (after Taft’s wife) in the basement and a more intimate dining area on the mezzanine. The food menu at the Ale House leans heavily on tri-tip beef, with a slew of creative brews to wash it down. Classics include the Maverick chocolate porter, infused with local Maverick chocolate, and Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean ale. 1429 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, taftsalehouse.com

Urban Artifact : This brewery, taproom and music venue, located in a historic church, crafts beers with locally caught wild yeast and bacteria, resulting in a lineup of sour, tart brews. The brewery hosts events and live music basically nightly, including film screenings, D&D meet-ups, open mic nights, stand-up sets and both local and traveling bands in genres ranging from Hip Hop to Experimental music. Its in-house indie radio station, Radio Artifact, features local music, local podcasts and local shows airing on WVXY’s HD2. 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com.

West Side Brewing: Since opening in spring 2017, this spot has brought a lot of life to its little corner of Westwood. Not only is West Side Brewing a great neighborhood watering hole, it’s also a community hub that’s seen a chili cook-off, dog-friendly nights, pop-up workout classes, live music, fundraisers and countless big-game watch parties. 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood, westsidebrewing.com.

Remarkable Mocktails

When you want something special without the booze

click to enlarge Tokyo Kitty mocktails - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Tokyo Kitty mocktails

Aster: This social sippery is a casual cocktail space above the downtown location of the Sleepy Bee CafО. The drink menu brings the farm to the cocktail world with a range of drinks that spans all ABVs (alcohol by volume). The menu starts with tasty modern tipples like the Pickle Martini, a vodka martini with house ginger-pickle juice and dark spice bitters and several gin and tonics with housemade tonic. There’s also a smattering of non-alcoholic options that go beyond virgin mixed drinks to accommodate everyone. These “Adaptogens” blend fruit, herbs, teas, housemade kombucha and sodas to create interesting flavor profiles, like in the Full Bloom: Holy Basil tea, strawberry lemongrass and soda. Boozy Socials — aka carafes of drinks for sharing with friends old and new — are perfect when imbibed on the rooftop patio. 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown, asteronfourth.com.

Karrikin Spirits Co.: In December, former Metropole chef Jared Bennett and former Maribelle’s eat + drink chef/owner Mike Florea teamed up with MadTree Brewing co-founder Jeff Hunt to open Karrikin Spirits Co., a distillery and restaurant located in an industrial park in Fairfax, near the Frisch’s Mainliner. On-premises, they distill several spirits, including vodka, gin and apricot brandy. But they also bring an eclectic, hand-crafted energy to their mocktail menu. Karrikin provides four different alcohol-free options including the Blood Orange Shrub, with blood orange and rosemary, and the more experimental Karrikin N/A Mule, consisting of ginger, lemongrass and Szechuan peppercorn. Besides their mocktails, you can also sample one of their housemade craft sodas with flavors like key lime and cola. 3717 Jonlen Drive, Fairfax, karrikinspirits.com.

Tokyo Kitty: This karaoke bar makes for a fun Friday night, or any night really, and if you don’t need to fuel your solo act with some liquid courage, Tokyo Kitty has you covered with some alcohol-free options. Under the “mocktails” sections of the drink menu are two choices that are the same price — if not cheaper — than the cocktails. The Keroppi is easily approachable with pistachio simple syrup, lime and ginger beer. Or level up to the No-Face, with activated charcoal, lavender simple syrup and lemonade. There are still plenty of alcoholic drinks — their beer, house specialties and sake bomb selections — for friends who may need that extra push for their Rockstar moment. 575 Race St., Downtown, thattokyobar.com.

Yonder: Inspired by owners Chris and Tess Burns' love of Kentucky State Parks, this bar concept by the folks behind Covington's Commonwealth Bistro features a chic treehouse-esque rooftop bar with a small rotating menu and craft cocktails. The bar menu features a variety of both alcoholic and spirit-free cocktails, like the High Lonesome, a cold brew coffee-based drink with sarsaparilla-hickory syrup, almond milk and mint. Co-owner Tess is a non-drinker and wanted a mocktail list “that was just as long as the cocktail list.” The breezy, plant-filled bar holds approximately 30 guests and features cozy, communal bench seating, hanging rattan chairs and five seats along the bar. 621 Main St., Second Floor, Covington, commonwealthbistro.com/yonder.

The Rum Bar

The place to relearn to love the spirit of the moment — even if it made you barf once

click to enlarge The Other Room - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Other Room

Other Room: While bourbon is king — especially around these parts — and has undoubtedly reigned over the past decade, rum is the next rumored rising spirit. Rum distillers are making a resurgence and bartenders are finding innovative ways to revive the spirit. Over-the-Rhine’s Longfellow has even opened an attached Other Room, a separate back bar that has 107 fluctuating rums — argued to be the largest rum collection in Ohio. With the vibe of a 1950s basement bar “where Desi Arnaz would perform but was managed by David Lynch,” the rum curators and bartenders are more than happy to help you find a favorite new spirit from their global collection. For something sweet and savory, try the Dr. Jones, a mix of Appleton Estate rum, pineapple juice, almond syrup and soy sauce. 109 E. 13th St. and Brackett Alley, Over-the-Rhine, longfellowbar.com/other-room.

The Vodka Bar

Step into a plush Eastern European-style watering hole (with caviar)

click to enlarge Wodka Bar - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Wodka Bar

Wodka Bar: Sarah Dworak of Babushka Pierogies opened Wodka Bar on Main Street, attached to her popular pierogi lunch and late-night walk-up window. Dedicated to the patron spirit of Eastern Europe, the bar carries an ambitious selection of vodkas, stocking upward of 60 types including many Russian, Polish and Ukrainian brands that are lesser known in the United States, plus house-infused options with Russian Caravan black tea, caraway seeds, pine needles, rosemary, berries and citrus zest. European wines and a single draft beer — O.K. Beer, a Premium Lager from Brzesko, Poland’s Okocim Brewery — round out the drinks. You can chase your shots with bites of caviar, pickled fish and vegetables, smoked meats, cheese and butter on dense, dark rye bread. 1200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, wodkabarotr.com.

The Bourbon Bar

This lil’ speakeasy is only open on Friday and Saturday nights

Prohibition Bourbon Bar: Named one of the best bourbon bars in the country by The Bourbon Review, Prohibition Bourbon Bar started as Newberry Bros. coffee and pastry shop before morphing into a speakeasy with one of the largest collections of bourbon and whisky in the world — the bar has more than 2,000 bottles, including Scotch, Irish, Tennessee and Japanese brands, plus more than 50 wines by the glass. Like any good Prohibition bar, access is limited: Owners Peter and Kim Newberry only open their watering hole Friday and Saturday nights. The bar is also on The B-Line, a collection of bourbon-minded Northern Kentucky establishments that has its own passport. 530 Washington Ave., Newport, newberrybroscoffee.com.

Dancing Destinations

Get down; drink up

click to enlarge Japps - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Arts OTA: Located in the space that formerly held Rake’s End, a DIY dive bar for the local independent arts and music scene, Arts’ on the Ave is located in the West End’s creative Brighton-Mohawk District. The interior features rotating exhibits; provides paper, pens, paint and paintbrushes so artistic patrons can get creative; and recurring events like Drafts and Crafts let you create while drinking discounted beverages. During the weekends, different DJs help kick off late-night dance parties. 2141 Central Ave., Brighton, artsota.com.

Mixwells Northside: Warning: Townies and tourists alike have been known to bust a move and seriously enjoy themselves at this establishment. Mixwells is a neon-lit discotheque with rotating DJs and a let-loose, college-basement-party vibe where people be getting wasted, taking selfies in a makeshift photo booth and sweating it out to ’80s tunes. Check the schedule for upcoming themed dance nights, which range from Studio 54 to Darkotica Goth. 3935 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, facebook.com/mixwellsbar. 

Japp’s Since 1879: Japp’s transforms from a craft cocktail lounge to an island getaway on the first Wednesday of each month for Tiki Night. Jeremy Harrison, bartender, musician and one of Tiki Night’s founders, spins ’80s New Wave/Punk Rock dance jams throughout the night and serves up surf-ready drink staples. An homage to authentic Caribbean/Polynesian libations, expect complex and potent rum-based cocktails with a balance of sweet, sour, spice and a fruity or floral garnish. Every Saturday, it’s a retro dance party. 1134 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/japps1879.

Live Music

Some sounds while you sip

click to enlarge Blind Lemon - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Blind Lemon

The Blind Lemon: Mount Adams’ favorite backyard bar since 1963. Walk down a set of stairs to find a secret, little hideaway. Inside, the cozy walls are lined with eclectic paraphernalia. Outside, the relaxed garden patio is like a boho blend of Bourbon Street and Paris cafО life. With a promise to hear Blues, Rock or Jazz every night, it’s one of the most romantic drinking destinations in the city. 936 Hatch St., Mount Adams, theblindlemon.com

Caffe Vivace: This coffee house and Jazz lounge in Walnut Hills blends artisan coffee, alcohol and the area’s finest Jazz musicians. Coffee is sourced from Carabello Coffee and live Jazz takes place six nights a week with full cocktail service and craft beer and wine. (There’s a $10 drink minimum for any show.) 975 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, caffevivace.com.

The Comet: This vintage-styled neon-lit Northside Garage Rock bar has Mexican food (served until 1 a.m.), booze, live music and coffee, so you never have to leave. Or you could just come back for their weekly house salsa creations and housemade ginger ale. Upon entering, you’ll probably think you’re in a ‘50s-era diner based on the jukebox and checkered tile floors, but this is a space for good, loud music (everything from Rock and Reggae to Hip Hop and Indie); cheap, strong drinks; and an inspirational amount of craft beer in bottles and cans housed in an old-fashioned cooler. And for Bluegrass fans, the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars bring down the house every Sunday. 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cometbar.com.

The Greenwich: Walnut Hills’ answer to Greenwich Village features a combination of Jazz, Spoken Word and Hip Hop. This long-standing nightlife destination has been presenting live music and art for more than four decades. Happy hour runs 6-8 p.m. weekdays with deals on already affordable drinks (a martini here will set you back less than $6) and is a perfect segue into the weekend during “Fridays at the Greenwich,” featuring a regular lineup of weekly acts. 2442 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, the-greenwich.com.

HÄRTH Lounge: Downtown’s HКrth Lounge offers a classy and romantic but laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, plus a rotation of local Jazz piano greats. 125 W. Fourth St., Downtown, bromwellsharthlounge.com.

Northside Tavern: This neighborhood tavern features a front bar, back room and huge patio. There’s free live music almost every night of the week. 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com.

Schwartz’s Point: Pianist Ed Moss is a Cincinnati Jazz legend for his musical achievements, but he was also beloved for his low-key Jazz venue. When Moss passed away in 2016, his daughter, Zarleen Watts, decided to honor her father by keeping his passion project going. The club — fittingly located at a “pointed” building arrowed into the five-way intersection at Vine Street and McMicken Avenue — reopened in 2017, retaining the eccentric character and regular Jazz performances (by a who’s who of the Cincinnati scene) that were a part of Moss’ vision, but modernizing it a bit and adding a new drink menu. 1901 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, thepoint.club.

Stanley’s Pub: A favorite spot for live, eclectic tunes along the river. Local and out-of-town bands with cheap drinks make Stanley’s an area favorite. A big place for Jamgrass. 323 Stanley Ave., Columbia Tusculum, facebook.com/stanleys.pub.

Neighborhood Hangs

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

click to enlarge Bay Horse Cafe - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Bay Horse Cafe

Arlin’s: The is Clifton’s Gaslight District neighborhood pub for the thinking man or woman. Have a beer on the big back patio and beer garden or enjoy live music and bar food. The no-frills atmosphere includes a pool room, plus 20 taps, sports on TV and a jukebox. 307 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, facebook.com/arlinsbar.

The B List: According to their Facebook page, they’re a “quintessential neighborhood ‘hole in the wall.'" The bar includes a 100+ bourbon selection, over 100 cans and bottles of craft beer and cider, a $3 craft beer special every day and 10 craft and domestic beers and cider on draft. 343 Division St., Bellevue, facebook.com/theblistbvue.

Bay Horse Café: The historic Bay Horse CafО, with roots dating back to 1817, reopened after co-owners and partners Fred Berger and Lori Meeker spent two and half years restoring the building (and its vintage neon sign featuring a trotting horse). The $4, 25-ounce Hudepohl schooners, $6 cocktails and draft beer mark it as an affordable, laid-back hangout. Browse historic news clippings that act as dОcor, play a classic card game or lounge on the 13-foot couch in the back — all while sipping on reasonably priced booze or snacking on Derby-themed panini. 625 Main St., Downtown, facebook.com/bayhorsecafe. 

Brew House: A Walnut Hills institution since 1978, the Brew House offers funky dОcor, friendly people, good burgers and cheap drinks. It’s a gathering place that is essential to the fabric of Walnut Hills and has been offering a very tasty Brew House Chili Cook-Off — a favorite of kitchen-savvy regulars —  for more than two decades. 1047 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, brewhouse.com.

City View Tavern: A hillside dive and home of one of the best spicy bloody marys and best views in town. The burgers are damn tasty, too. Meet the Big Ted Deluxe: eight ounces of griddle-cooked, handmade beef patty with American cheese, mustard, lettuce, pickles, mayo, onion, ketchup, tomatoes, served in a plastic basket with a bag of chips. 403 Oregon St., Mount Adams, cityviewtavern.com.

The Crazy Fox Saloon: From their insane bloody marys, stacked high assorted meats and cheese, to their fresh mint juleps, The Crazy Fox Saloon brings a fun twist to every drink. This cozy bar provides not only a close-knit atmosphere, but also killer cocktails and a great selection of local craft brews. 901 Washington Ave., Newport, searchable on Facebook.

Crowley’s: Crowley’s Highland House has made a name for themselves offering Smithwick’s, Guinness and Killian’s on draft in an unpretentious atmosphere. As Cincinnati’s oldest Irish bar, the bar was established in 1937 by Bill “Specs” Crowley. They put on quite a party for Saint Patrick’s Day and the Labor Day fireworks. 958 Pavilion St., Mount Adams. 513-721-7709.

Crow’s Nest: The Crow's Nest opened in 1895 by husband and wife duo Mike and Mary Crow. Now, the pub is owned by the O'Dell family, who are the descendants of Mary. When you drive by, you’ll see a plethora of Irish fanfare. But their claim to fame is their fish sandwich. 4544 W. Eighth St., West Price Hill, facebook.com/crowsnestcincy.

Fries Café: Before opening as a bar in the 1930s, Fries CafО 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. 3247 Jefferson Ave., Clifton, facebook.com/friescafe.

Gypsy’s: With a welcoming, dog-friendly atmosphere, Gypsy’s is perhaps most well known for their fully stocked bar and large craft beer selection on draft or in bottles and cans — you can find a drink special for under $4 any day of the week. Watch your favorite game on one of several TVs or enjoy their back patio equipped with fire pits and giant Jenga. 641 Main St., Covington, facebook.com/gypsyscovington.

Knockback Nat’s: Part neighborhood hangout, part sports bar, part destination for hungry individuals looking for delicious smoked wings (featured on the Travel Channel), Knockback Nat’s has a little something for everyone. And there are always sports on TV. 10 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-1000. 

Madonna’s Bar and Grill: This is one of the closest things to a townie bar in downtown. The cozy dive boasts a pool table, jukebox, some of the friendliest bartenders in the city and a great BLT. 11 E. Seventh St., Downtown, madonnasbarandgrill.com.

click to enlarge Miller's Fill-In - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Miller's Fill-In

Miller’s Fill-Inn: Enjoy live cover bands or a Blues jam over affordable suds and a basket of popcorn, then head to the side room, past the pool tables, and bowl to your heart’s content at the electro-mechanical coin-op bowling game (just a quarter per game). Six players at a time can play on the bar’s vintage Champagne machine, which was made by the Chicago Coin company, a noted pinball machine manufacturer, back in 1969. 52 Donnermeyer Drive, Bellevue, facebook.com/millersfillinn.

Milton’s Prospect Hill Tavern: Prospect Hill’s neighborhood joint is chatty, diverse and full of character. A great place to have beer, relax and mix it up with the regulars. 301 Milton St., Liberty Hill, facebook.com/miltonstheprospecthilltavern.

Millions Café/ Mount Lookout Tavern: It’s Friday night: Everyone’s looking for love — or lust — in Mount Lookout. Try sister and brother bars Million’s Cafe and Mount Lookout Tavern — or MLTs, as the locals call it. They are basically mirror-image sports bars that specialize in easy bar food, craft beer and Jell-O shots of the glow-in-the-dark variety. 3210 Linwood Ave., millions-cafe.com; 3209 Linwood Ave., mtlookouttavern.com.

O’Bryon’s Bar & Grill: This neighborhood bar and grill has two floors and an outdoor patio. Enjoy peanuts — in the shell — while watching one of many TVs and exploring the regularly rotating draft beer selection. Famous for their Shark Tank cocktail: vodka, sprite, sour mix and a rubber shark filled with grenadine you pour in yourself. 1998 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, obryonsirishpub.com.

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