93 Cincinnati bars and boozy destinations for every vibe

The Drinking Issue

Jun 12, 2018 at 1:50 pm
click to enlarge Sundry and Vice - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Sundry and Vice

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere — that means it’s time for a drink. Whether you’re looking for a nightlife destination to mix and mingle or some place to spend happy hour before heading home to Netflix, there’s a bar for every vibe in Cincinnati. 

The Drinking Issue has divided up a smattering of these boozy destinations into different categories to help you pick where to raise your glass next. In the mood for a nice cabernet? There’s a wine bar for that. What about a place with a piña colada and beach volleyball? Sure! Just want to go where everybody knows your name? 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. 


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


For 10/10 very good boys and their humans

Braxton Brewing Co.

Braxton Brewing Company prides itself on loving beer and innovation, but their real soft spot is for dogs. Employees dole out treats and lots of belly scratches for any pup that visits the taproom. Cross the river for the Revamp IPA, stay for the canine haven. It’s what all the cool dogs do. And if you’re looking for beer with more attitude, stop by Braxton Labs. While the original Braxton has the feeling of a Midwestern garage — a place that holds memories, nuts, bolts and beer — Braxton’s second “lab” location has opened the doors to innovation. Located in the Party Source, the lab features 40 taps dedicated to the brand’s most unique offerings, as well as brews from across the U.S. and around the world, plus an outdoor dog-friendly AstroTurf beirgarten. Braxton, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington; Braxton Labs, 95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue, braxtonbrewing.com.

Hightail Mount Adams

This hillside watering hole, inspired by mid-19th-century whaling clubs in New England, brings a warm welcome to everyone who walks in the door. With an enormous selection of bourbons and beer, this is a perfect place to whet your whistle. But maybe the best thing about Hightail is that they encourage all tails, especially during their Sunday Yappy Hour from 7-9 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, they know 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. It’s Rosé Wednesday each week, with a flight of three rosés for $13 (add pimento cheese and Ritz crackers for $6). They also offer a mean $6 Liberty’s Mule cocktail (a Best Of Cincinnati staff pick), with housemade ginger beer. Dogs are welcome and you’ll frequently find one or two sleeping under their owners’ stools at the bar. 1427 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook.

Southwest Porch at Washington Park 

When Southwest Airlines took over and rebranded the porch at Washington Park last year, this almost 3,000-square-foot space got a real upgrade. With a Southwest-inspired blue-and-white color scheme, the company added carnival-style string lights, patio chairs, a giant chess set, ping-pong tables and cornhole. Add those 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 rosé (like a cat café minus the cats, plus alcohol). 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.

Woodburn Brewery 

Founded by a lifelong Cincinnatian and an L.A. transplant, Woodburn promises the best of the West Side and the West Coast. Among its core beers are a Cedar IPA and a chocolate cherry stout. For summer sipping, try the hilariously named Garry Shandy, a German-style weisse beer with lemonade, or the Pineapple Smash beer cocktail with pineapple saison, Tito’s vodka, pineapple juice and citrus. Dogs are welcome to chill inside the taproom — they have a couple of regular booze hounds, including Myrtle the Brewery Dog — where they will receive many pets. 2800 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, woodburnbrewery.com.

click to enlarge Mecca OTR - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Mecca OTR


For all types of cool kids — and adults


A very chill addition to the OTR bar scene, Longfellow offers cozy, mushed-together seating, a large U-shaped bar and a super-positive attitude as transmitted by D.C./N.Y.C. transplant and owner Mike Stankovich. 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. A nice spot for singles, good looking people abound here, especially if you’re into Williamsburg, N.Y.-type hotties and off-duty bartenders. 1233 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, longfellowbar.com. 


Named for Ohio River flooding, the Hi-Mark — from the groups that brought you cult favorites Eli’s BBQ and Pho Lang Thang — is a laid-back neighborhood hang with a rotating tap list of local, regional and “essential” (read: Budweiser, Guinness, etc.) beers, and interesting hi-balls, like the Horse’s Neck, made with bourbon, bitters and ginger ale. The food menu blends barbecue and Vietnamese, with options like Bo Kho chili topped with cheddar, scallions and Sriracha, or a pulled pork banh mi with Eli’s smoked pork, do chua, cucumber, barbecue sauce and cilantro. Vintage flair, an upstairs rumpus room and East End address make this a destination bar and roadhouse for people who know what’s good for them — aka a new Fretboard brew and an order of chili fries — or just have a super long wait down the street at Eli’s. 3229 Riverside Drive, East End, thehimark.com.

The Lackman

Located in a turn-of-the-century building built by brewer Herman Lackman, it serves 14 beers on tap and more than 30 bottles and cans (microbrews, imports and domestics) in an environment decked out in leather banquettes, exposed brick and vintage-styled tile work. Try the barrel-aged Negroni, with Plymouth gin, Carpano Antica and Campari. Or something from the signature cocktail list, currently themed after favorite Cincinnati locales. The 13th and Vine boasts blanco tequila, simple syrup, grapefruit, lime, soda and fresh-cracked pepper; sweet with a kick, just like the Lackman’s location — a perfect place to congregate before or after dinner at one of OTR’s many eateries. 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com.

Low Spark

Another one of 4EG’s creations, Low Spark offers a ’70s-style, square-shaped, theater-in-the-round bar, featuring an aquarium in the center and a slew of button-tufted orange leather bowling-alley-ish chairs. They have everything from $3 Bud to local beers on draft and a fine cocktail list, including a strong and refreshing Juniper Rays with gin, Campari, grapefruit and rosemary. The final Friday of the month is Vinyl Friday with resident DJ Matt Joy spinning favorite record selections. 15 W. 14th St., Over-the-Rhine, lowsparkbar.com.

Mecca OTR

Now you can hang out in a makeshift forest of ferns and philodendrons, drink craft beer in flashy cans and snap an insta pic by a number of neon signs — if you can find the place. With a courtyard main entrance tucked away down 15th Street (the streetside façade is actually a vintage Americana shop accessible from inside the bar), this destination feels very “in the know.” But the big-ass gravel patio, colorful street-art murals, panoply of rainbow lighting and plethora of communal seating make this a welcoming spot for those interested in no-frills drinking, L.A. vibes, vinyl tunes and corndogs. Every cinder block is covered in the works of local artists, including in the individually decorated bathroom stalls. The aesthetic is strong with this one, guys, and so are their make-it-mine San Pell Chunker cocktails, with a mini airplane bottle of booze inverted into a can of flavored sparkling water. 1429 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/meccaotr.

Mixwells Northside

Warning: Townies and tourists alike have been known to bust a move and seriously enjoy themselves at this establishment. Nestled along Hamilton Avenue’s eclectic assortment of dive bars and record stores sits Mixwells — Northside’s best and only dance club. It’s 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. 4169 Hamilton Ave., Northside, facebook.com/mixwellsBar. 

Myrtle’s Punch House

Non-beer drinkers, rejoice! Myrtle’s focuses on handcrafted punch sold by the bowl, glass or state-of-the-art draft system. The punch features fresh juice, syrup and in-house infusions. Shareable plates include vegan, vegetarian and carnivorous options. Holding down the corner in East Walnut Hills, right across from Woodburn Brewery, Myrtle’s makes for an easy group bar-hopping destination. There’s also half-price bottles of wine all day Sunday, trivia on Wednesday nights and Highly Improvable Comedy the second and fourth Thursday of the month in the downstairs Rathskeller, among other events. 2733 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, wellmannsbrands.com/myrtles.

Overlook Lodge 

A rustic 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 the Writer’s Block cocktail (bourbon and apple-berry sweet tea) or Redrum Returns (dark rum, strawberry clove purée, citrus, soda and cranberry bitters) to fit write in. Combine the themed atmosphere with live music on the weekends (including Acoustic Sundays) 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.

The Pony OTR

By the looks of it, you’d think The Pony has been around for decades with its honeycomb tile floors, low-hanging green bar lamps and a glowing neon sign luring you in for an Old Fashioned. Turns out the excellently comfortable dive-bar décor is the machination of hipsters, and we’re not at all mad about it. You can count on the Pony for weekly specials that’ll keep you galloping through the front door — Sunday cheap eats, Monday trivia nights, Taco Tuesday — not to mention a plentiful dose of classic bar food (chicken wings, chicken fingers and gravy fries), a nice selection of drafts and simple cocktails. It’s Main Street’s neighborhood bar where you’ll run into a nice cross section of OTR visitors and residents here for a drink, to escape from the nightlife chaos of Vine or to watch assorted sports on TV. 1346 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook. 

Sundry and Vice

Sometimes all you need to cure a case of the doldrums is a stiff drink. Sundry and Vice doesn’t deny their ulterior motives when creating curative cocktails. Their apothecary-inspired drinks lend more textures, colors and flavors than a classic list of libations; meticulously crafted by be-aproned bartenders, they take a little longer to make than usual, but that’s only because they’re so good. And though they may not be backed by “science,” they’re known to cure a sour mood. Take the Truth or Dare — it’s a well-balanced gin drink with subtle notes of sesame, sweet plum, grapefruit bitters… and a fortune cookie garnish. Or sling back a BRO.T.R — an upscale Boilermaker with a Rhinegeist Truth and a shot of draft Old Fashioned. 18 W. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, sundryandvice.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. Come have a killer drink — like the $12 Royale With Cheese, made with yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, simple syrup and Rhinegeist Truth — and argue with fellow movie buffs and assorted drunk people about which Tarantino film kicks the most ass. If you come on a Saturday this summer, catch a free film on the patio at 9 p.m. sharp (they’re screening Pulp Fiction on June 30). 965 E McMillan, Walnut Hills, gorillacinemapresents.com/archive.

click to enlarge Arnold's Bar and Grill - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Arnold's Bar and Grill


Secret hideaways and people-pleasing party spaces

Arnold’s Bar and Grill 

A friendly, diverse and historic gin joint, Arnold’s is the city’s oldest bar — in operation since the 1830s. The cheap (strong) drinks and almost daily live music — from Bluegrass and Americana to Jazz — complement the awesome interior courtyard, which used to be a stable and carriage house. They claim to have one of the best bourbon lists in Cincinnati with nearly 40 options on the menu. Whether you like it neat or on the rocks, there’s sure to be something great to sip on while eating your weight’s worth in signature Greek spaghetti (on the menu since the 1950s) or snapping a selfie in the bathtub that was once reputedly used for making bathtub gin. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

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 café 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


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 topped burger available from 6 p.m. until they sell out. 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, dutchs.squarespace.com.

Fries CafО 

At more than 90 years old, Fries is a laid-back dive-bar legend near the University of Cincinnati. Appealing to everyone from UC students taking a break from exams to Cliftonites and downtown professionals, the first floor features a draft bar with a focus on craft beer and a popular old-fashioned shuffleboard table. The lower level features two billiards tables and the top floor has more darts and billiards with access to the seasonal patio. The uncharacteristically large outdoor space (at least for Clifton) has a covered portion and deck, live music stage, cornhole sets and plenty of seating. 3247 Jefferson Ave., Clifton, friescafeclifton.com.


OTR’s backyard izakaya, this Japanese gastropub is notorious for its excellent outdoor space and one of the best happy hours in the city. Starting at 4 p.m., grab $5 specialty cocktails and discounted sushi rolls, among other options, and enjoy them on the giant private patio, featuring string lights, colorful vertical planters and Acapulco lounge chairs. It even has its own outdoor bar, perfect for not moving too far when you want a refill of $4 house sake. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kazeotr.com.

MadTree 2.0

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 façade 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

Mecklenburg Gardens 

At 150 years old, Mecklenburg Gardens is one of the city’s most historic eateries, and its vine-covered trellised biergarten is one of the best in the nation (an accolade awarded by Travel + Leisure magazine). Grab one of the German brews on draft, which come in several sizes, including a 1-liter glass boot. Wednesday night, the garden offers quarter flip specials: The bartender flips a coin and you call heads or tails while it’s in the air. If you guess right, you pay 25 cents for a half-liter beer. Check for specialty keg tappings happening each month. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.com.


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. They’ve added industrial-farmhouse chandeliers, bold floral wallpaper (perfect for an Instagram photoshoot), leveled out the first floor and added lounge seating. 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 (now with brand new seating). 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.

Queen City Radio

Head to the beer garden at Queen City Radio for a local pint, boozy slushies, wine and cocktails. The former auto body shop turned gigantic, multi-level OTR hang features 14 rotating taps of local, regional and national beer, canned and bottled brews, a small cocktail program and adult-themed treats including alcohol-infused Popsicles. Garage doors create indoor/outdoor space, weather permitting, and the patio boasts not only a ton of seating, but also the on-site Queen City Whip food truck (which serves burgers, shakes and chili fries) and a new outdoor bar in a converted Airstream trailer. 222 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, qcrbar.com.


Located in a historic building in the heart of Columbia Tusculum (Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhood), Pearl’s offers a rooftop bar and large outdoor patio for the warmer months and serves classic cocktails, draft beer and small bites. Named after the building’s last resident — Pearl — the entire establishment was designed to maintain a sense of authenticity and honor its former use as house. The bricks that came from the original chimney were used to create the freestanding fireplace on the 1,000-square-foot patio. The side paneling was refinished and reassembled; the wood floors, window frames and ceiling joists are all original; and even the building’s whitewashed exterior looks lived-in and antiqued. With string lights, ample seating and even a TV or two, the exterior patio is one of the most comfortable places in town to grab a glass of wine (with half-price bottles on Wednesday nights). 3520 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, pearls-cincy.com. 

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


The latest trend in cocktails is less alcohol


This social sippery is a casual cocktail space above the new downtown location of Sleepy Bee Café. Beverage director Giacomo Ciminello — known as much for his distinctive handlebar mustache as the boozy milkshakes he has made a staple at Sundry and Vice — worked with Bee chefs to create a menu that brought “the farm to the cocktail world.” Standout cocktails include the Fig Dandy, a fig syrup, bourbon and dandelion tea concoction, and the Voodoo Lily, a carrot-orange coconut milk and rum cocktail with a kick of curry. Tapping into the latest trend in mixology, there’s also a smattering of non-alcoholic and low ABV cocktails that go beyond soda and virgin mixed drinks to accommodate everyone in your party. The Moonville stands out on the non-alcoholic list — coconut milk makes it creamy while pineapple and rose water add sweetness. Socials — 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.


This au currant 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, Pét-Nat?), local and European beers and trendy cocktails and spirits that utilize garden and farm flavors. The latest wave embraced by the bar team at Please is the low-proof cocktail trend. Try a Christina Pfeffer (drinks are named after Please friends and Kickstarter investors), with rosé, Aperol, grapefruit liqueur, lime and soda; or the Erika Leighton-Spradlin, with Dolin dry, banana liqueur, Velvet Falernum and pineapple tepache. 1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, pleasecincinnati.com.

click to enlarge 16-Bit Bar+Arcade - Photo: Patty Salas
Photo: Patty Salas
16-Bit Bar+Arcade


Drinking destinations with an interactive edge

16 Bit Bar+Arcade

Calling all button smashers and pinball wizards: 16-Bit has more than 50 free arcade games and a tasty selection of celeb-inspired cocktails for you to slurp down as you relive your childhood nerdy nostalgia sans the quarters. If you want to drink like an adult while you act like a kid, try a cocktail like the Pam Anderson (coconut rum, peach vodka and juice) or new Sugar Rush (citrus vodka, curaçao and ginger beer, plus a Pixy Stick and a gummi peach ring), or pick from a hefty selection of craft brews and old standbys (aka PBR). Double down with a boozy slushie in one hand while you play Dragon’s Lair with the other — as long as you order something from the bar, you play for free. 1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 16-bitbar.com/cincy.

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. The bar, usually 21 and older, goes all ages from 2-8 p.m. on Sundays. 3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, arcadelegacyohio.com/bar-edition.

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. Prices average around $4.50 to $7 — 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 the drop-in dart league on Monday or Trivia Tuesday. 32 W. Court St., Downtown, queencityexchange.com.

The Rook OTR

At this board-game parlor, people can select from a library of more than 800 games featuring everything from Twister and Cards Against Humanity to Settlers of Catan and Pictionary. Snack on sliders, tots or pizza rolls while downing some classic and kitschy cocktails, like a Capri Against Humanity — made with a Capri Sun juice pouch and rum — or a Pretty Pretty Princess, with sparkling wine, amaretto, cotton candy and a candy necklace. 1115 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, therookotr.com.

Coming Soon: Pins Mechanical Company

From the Columbus-based Rise Brands, the group behind 16-Bit, this new bar — slated to open later this summer — will have 25 pinball machines and 10 duckpin bowling lanes, plus other “old school” entertainment options like foosball, bocce ball and shuffle board. The three-story bar will also boast a rooftop patio. 1124 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, pinsbar.com.


Dedicated to providing a broad selection of brown liquor and a knowledgeable staff

Bourbon Haus 1841

Tucked away on the B-Line, Northern Kentucky’s bourbon trail experience, sits Bourbon Haus — one of 12 stops in the area (which also include New Riff, Bouquet Restaurant and The Globe) providing some of the best bourbon you can get your hands on. With an impressive selection of over 150 bottles, you’ll be overwhelmed by your options in the very best way. Whether you’re partial to an Old Fashioned or keen to try new things, the Haus has a lovely list of bourbon-backed libations for you to sip on while you decide which crafted flight is going to take you on a trip into Kentucky’s liquid history. 522 Main St., Covington, bourbonhaus1841.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 shepherd’s 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.

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. Each day OKBB offers a special hand-selected bourbon flight. For those less interested in straight booze, try the best Manhattan in the city. 629 Main St., Covington, wellmannsbrands.com/okbb.

Prohibition Bourbon Bar

Named one of the best bourbon bars in the country by The Bourbon Review, Prohibition Bourbon Bar started as a 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 1,500 bottles and counting, including Scotch, Irish, Tennessee and Japanese brands, plus more than 50 wines by the glass. Like any good Prohibition bar, access is limited: The Newberrys only open their watering hole Thursday through Saturday nights. 530 Washington Ave., Newport, newberrybroscoffee.com.

Wiseguy Lounge

Housed above Goodfellas Pizzeria, Wiseguy Lounge tries to embrace the ambiance of the Roaring Twenties with a selection of craft cocktails that utilize homemade syrups, fresh-pressed juice and even open flames, plus rotating beer taps and an “elite” bourbon selection. There are more than 250 bourbons to choose from, including hand-picked single barrels, and a Bourbon Connoisseurs Club for serious imbibers. 603 Main St., Covington; 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, goodfellaspizzeria.com.

click to enlarge 3 Points Urban Brewery - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
3 Points Urban Brewery


Can’t list ’em all

3 Points Urban Brewery

Named after the triangle shape of Pendleton — formed by Liberty, Reading and Main —  3 Points opened on June 1. With eight of their own beers on draft so far (the goal is 12) and a 185-person taproom, this urban brewery is a design-forward and artful space where all are welcome to indulge. Six artists were commissioned to create pieces inspired by the house beers and taste profiles. Birdseye is a Saison that melds fruity, spicy and clove-y notes together like a patchwork quilt. Lindsay Nehls’ artistic interpretation looks exactly as it tastes — boldly colorful, simple in construction and wholly satisfying. Other taps feature options like Sinking Orca oatmeal stout or the Origami Post Coast IPA. Check out the art that goes with each brew online or in the taproom. 331 E. 13th St., Pendleton, 3pointsbeer.com.

Crafts & Vines

A great pony keg and bar in MainStrasse, this shop has more than a dozen different wines and beer on draft. All beer is from Kentucky and Cincinnati and the tap list features rarities like brews from Mash Cult — Crafts & Vines is one of the only places to serve the local nano brand on draft — as well as Paducah’s Dry Ground, Louisville’s Apocalypse Brew Works and Lexington’s Ethereal Brewing. The female-helmed operation also offers a selection of snacks and charcuterie, and a wine club. 642 Main St., Covington, craftsandvines.com.

Growler House

This craft beer destination features 30 taps of local, regional and national beers — from favorites to hard-to-find rarities — for you to imbibe onsite or take home in one of the bar’s 32- or 64-ounce growlers. Taps rotate daily. Sample new brews via a pint or 5-ounce “Benchers,” or create your own flight. If you want to stick around and drink, the Growler House also offers a direct ordering station linked with O Pie O (across the street) so you can get sweet or savory pie creations delivered to your table. 1526 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, thegrowlerhouse.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, and don’t leave without visiting their growler and crawler station to take a cold one home with you. Higher Gravity is kid- and dog-friendly, as well as B.Y.O.F. (bring your own food), so bring the whole fam and order in something tasty from one of their Northside neighbors. 4106 Hamilton Ave., Northside, highergravitycrafthaus.com. 

Nine Giant Brewing 

This brewery and snackery in the heart of Pleasant Ridge just celebrated its second anniversary. Nine Giant’s story begins with a fabled giant named Nine. Though many don’t know, these mythical creatures once called Cincinnati home, guzzling the great brews of the city’s past. The giant found a place among the shimmering taps and glistening blue walls of what would become his namesake. There are no flagship beers at Nine Giant — its 10 taps are subject to endless experimentation. Currently, you can complement your fried pickles with Fake Empire, a Czech pilsner, or Loveless raspberry witbier. 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, ninegiant.com.


This uber popular OTR brewery and event space is celebrating its fifth anniversary on June 23 with an epic birthday party. Also epic? Its new Jurassicgeist dinosaur bone display — a never before exhibited Galeamopus skeleton, on loan from the Cincinnati Museum Center. In addition to sampling the brewery’s lineup of West Coast-inspired brews or playing a game of cornhole, you can grab short-order takeaway from downstairs brasserie Sartre OTR (served via a pneumatic tube) or 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 — including Bubbles — plus a selection of wine and draft cocktails. 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com.

Streetside Brewing Co.

From their taproom/brewery along Eastern Avenue in Columbia Tusculum, Streetside Brewery blends craft and community. With beers like the milkshake blonde Cereal Milk, a red velvet donut stout collaboration with Holtman’s Donuts called Robe, S’more Fun Together brown ale and a key lime gose that tastes like buttery graham cracker crust, this brewery has developed a niche for having your cake and drinking it, too. The taproom frequently hosts food trucks and programmed events, and Streetside’s Return of the Mac coffee-blonde recently received a silver medal by RateBeer, a crowd-sourced global site for craft beer enthusiasts. 4003 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, streetsidebrewery.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 — like the flagship Harrow Gose. If sour isn’t your thing, add some sweet flavored-syrups from the bar or try local Skinny Piggy kombucha on tap. The brewery also hosts events and live music basically nightly, including the long-standing Blue Wisp Big Band on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays, film screenings on Mondays and both local and traveling bands in genres ranging from Hip Hop to Experimental music. Its in-house indie radio station, Radio Artifact, just got picked up by WVXU. 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, artifactbeer.com.

Westside Brewing Co.

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 in its first year. Originally pegged as a craft brewery for the everyman, WSB is inviting enough for the casual beer drinker, spacious enough for groups and families and legit enough to impress the most discerning local brewpub frequent flyers. WSB also has smart taps — all beer is tracked and displayed on digital menus, kind of like a phone battery, so you can see what’s freshly tapped (you’ll see a green, full keg icon) or what’s most popular (red, empty keg icon). 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood, westsidebrewing.com.

click to enlarge Below Zero Lounge - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Below Zero Lounge


Science says you sing better the more you drink

Below Zero Lounge

LGBTQ+ nightclub Below Zero Lounge is nestled snuggly between the nightlife action on Vine and Main streets in OTR and plenty of trendy theater destinations — Know Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincy Shakes and the Aronoff. These two facts are specifically important during Thursday night karaoke when the Patty and Matty Karaoke Show takes over the lounge. With a splash of panache, hosts Patrick Carnes and Matthew Pappert lead increasingly inebriated singers through everything from ’80s hits and radio-friendly Pop to favorite showtunes and plenty of Celine Dion. Because of the proximity to those theaters, it’s not uncommon for local talent or actors from traveling Broadway shows — or even a drag queen or two from upstairs’ The Cabaret — to hop onstage to belt their own takes on karaoke classics. 1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, belowzerolounge.com.

The Hub OTR

Celebrating Cincinnati’s urban bike culture and cycling activism, The Hub OTR services bikes by day and slings beer and cocktails at night. Trade your fixie for a $5 shot-and-beer special when the Hub transforms into a dog-friendly drinking destination with entertaining events and live music, including karaoke on Monday nights hosted by Hot Wheels Entertainment. Hot Wheels is the brainchild of karaoke jockey Bree, one of the city’s most notoriously engaging karaoke hosts — and a musician herself — whose business name reflects one of her other passions: advocating for those with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs. It’s a perfect marriage of booze and tunes for singers who care about wheels of all types. 1209 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, thehubotr.com.

Northside Tavern

This laid-back neighborhood tavern features a front bar, back room and huge patio. There’s free live music almost every night of the week — including some you make yourself. Every Thursday is Karaoke Fantastic in the back bar, with more than 16,000 songs to choose from. And the first Saturday of the month, you can find a novel approach to the sing-along staple, Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke, which exchanges backing tracks for a full band of veteran Cincinnati rockers who are missing just one thing: a lead singer. During their karaoke “concerts,” you take the microphone and bring all the pomp, swagger and drunken falsetto to the stage while they play your song selection live. 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com.

Tokyo Kitty

The neon-lit and uber kawaii Japanese karaoke bar plays off of Lost in Translation by offering seven themed private karaoke rental rooms — with high-tech in-room robot drink delivery via Bbot — a karaoke mainstage, a dance floor and Tiki-style cocktails. Private karaoke rooms go for between $20 and $50 an hour and singers can choose from around 500 popular party hits. It’s a futuristic fantasy land full of “happy fun song time” and shelves of pink wigs. 575 Race St., Downtown, thattokyobar.com.

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


Bars that put the lime in the coconut

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. 1134 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, wellmannsbrands.com/japps1879.

Knotty Pine Rock Club & Tiki Bar

This Cheviot mainstay is all Rock club/pool hall inside and all beach vibes outside, as the one-eyed-pirate-meets-biker skull logo can attest. The outdoor Tiki bar abuts a sand volleyball court, with competitive and co-ed league play throughout the summer and daily happy hour from 3-7 p.m. 6947 Cheviot Road, Cheviot, knottypinerocks.com.

Northside Yacht Club

A loosely nautically themed and ironically landlocked Rock club from two local music and mixology veterans, the Northside Yacht Club is all fun. The cocktails — served by tattooed bartenders in the vein of Sailor Jerry — are masterful, made with fresh juice, fruit and herbal garnish. The tropically themed and navy-inspired drinks are served in Tiki glasses, but boat with caution if you order the Volcano Bowl. This punch comes with a highly potent mix of many, many rums, grenadine and pineapple and orange juice — all lit on fire and served with four straws. Lay down a base layer with a bar-food menu that features satisfying items like house-smoked wings, duck fat poutine and vegan lentil chili fries. 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com.

Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club

With a giant shark figurine impaled on the sign, this bar, grill and marina has a definite sense of laid-back island humor — and cheap drinks. People might go for the irony, river views and glowing palm trees, but they stay for the grill-your-own steaks, live music and Tiki drinks served in Styrofoam cups. 860 Elm St., Ludlow, ludlowbromleyyachtclub.net.

The Sandbar

With seven volleyball courts and a view of the river, tap into your inner beach bum with a list of “Dock”Tails, including the Strawberry Colada with Malibu rum, peach schnapps, frozen piña colada and strawberry purée. If you don’t want to join a volleyball league, the bar hosts open play pickup games on Saturday and Sunday. Four Seasons Marina, 4609 Kellogg Ave., California, thesandbarcincinnati.com.


When you want your spirits straight from the source

New Riff Distilling

This craft distillery, which opened adjacent to the Party Source in 2014, is all about embracing patience: This fall, they’ll finally be releasing the first batch of their bourbon and rye whisky, made in an all-copper column still, using well water discovered on site. While we count down the days until the New Riff release, you can currently sample their Kentucky Wild Gin, made with local spice bush, and unaged white dog. Free tours take visitors behind the scenes to see production from grain to barrel, and end in a tasting. 24 Distillery Way, Bellevue, newriffdistilling.com.

Northside Distilling Company

This award-winning local distiller started in a nearly 100-year-old abandoned horse barn in Northside — hence the name. Now, Northside Distilling Company’s bar on Race Street pays homage to its roots. Reclaimed barn wood decorates the walls of the space, giving it a rustic vibe. Take a seat in the cozy bar and enjoy a selection of cocktails crafted in-house from their spirits: Northside Shine, corn whiskey and award-winning vodka. Bourbon nerds: They released their first run of barrel-aged, small-batch bourbon in November. 922 Race St., Downtown, northsidedistilling.com.

Shumrick & Leys

The founders of this distillery and tasting bar have a history with wine, but now spirits are their specialty. The lineup includes small-batch rum (dark and light), bourbon (finished in wine barrels) and vodka (including a horseradish variety for the spiciest of bloody marys), distilled, bottled and aged in an industrial Norwood building that once held Banasch’s sewing company. Tour the distillery before winding down at the bar with a mixed drink made with their specialty booze. 2810 Highland Ave., Norwood, shumrickleys.com.

Second Sight Spirits

This artisan distillery in Ludlow produces innovative unbarreled white rum, spiced rum, bourbon-barreled rum and Villa Hillbillies Moonshine. The tasting room offers samples and tours under the watchful eye of Second Sight’s Steam Punk-esque copper still that looks like it came straight from the mind of Jules Verne. 301 B. Elm St., Ludlow, secondsightspirits.com.

Woodstone Creek

This boutique distillery only produces 100-200 cases of wine, mead and distilled spirits yearly. The offerings include dry to sweet wine from Ohio grape varietals, a wide range of mead, five-grain bourbon, single malt whisky (peated and unpeated), rum, gin, bierschnaaps, vodka and more. Sample anything and everything they have available during Saturday tastings. 4712 Vine St., Saint Bernard, woodstonecreek.com.

click to enlarge Coppin's at Hotel Covington - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Coppin's at Hotel Covington


For a night with friends and strangers where you don’t have to drive home if you can afford a room

The Bar at Palm Court

This lobby-level bar with French Art Deco décor 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 kick. Go during happy hour 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and grab a plate of discounted light bites — lamb belly sliders, ricotta tortellini or chicken wings with smoked butter-Cholula sauce — to accompany your cocktail, or Friday and Saturday night for live Jazz. 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. Coppin’s restaurant offers unconventional flavor profiles, gorgeous presentations and clever names. The Mother Smucker, for example, is an alcoholic take on a childhood PB&J, with a concoction of peanut butter-washed tequila, Rhinegeist Press Tart, lemon, Blackstrap Bitters and cherry-bark-vanilla bitters. Or, if you’d rather have a say in your spirits, try the Your Mojito, My Mojito, which allows you to choose between peppermint, cucumber, raspberry, mango or cantaloupe to muddle at the bottom of your libation. 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. Hotel Covington offers much more than a clean bed and a view of the Ohio River; from cocktails to coffee drinks and charcuterie to balance it out, they won’t leave you wanting. 638 Madison Ave., Covington, hotelcovington.com.

Metropole/Cocktail Terrace

Housed in the 21c Museum Hotel, the Metropole is a restaurant and lounge with craft beers on tap, clever cocktails and a smart selection of old- and new-world wines. Or take a secret elevator up 11 floors to the roof for the hotel’s cocktail terrace, open seasonally and weather permitting. The hip 75-seat oasis has cushy patio furniture, tableside service and glass partitions for full views of downtown’s glowing nighttime cityscape. 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, metropoleonwalnut.com.

The Phelps/Top of the Park

Both located in the Residence Inn Marriott, The Phelps is a hidden oasis in the city — a tapas bar featuring small bites, wine and hand-crafted cocktails. On the roof, Top of the Park has 360-degree views of downtown, Mount Adams 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. Try the Re-Fashioned, with Bulleit, blood orange, crème de cassis, rhubarb bitters and bourbon cherry. 506 E. Fourth St., Downtown, topoftheparkcincinnati.com.

Southerby’s at the Mariemont Inn

If you feel like escaping to the suburbs, the historic Mariemont Inn’s Southerby’s bar is a lobby-level drinking destination worth exploring. With the same hunting-lodge-meets-English-manor ambiance as the hotel, this small pub features a food menu of shareable snacks and chef-crafted cuisine from the in-house National Exemplar restaurant, plus craft beer, seasonal cocktails and wines by the glass or bottle. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday with  $5 martinis, $3 craft beer specials, half off bottled wine, $2 off select glass pours, $2 off shareables and $2 oysters. Claim a spot in an overstuffed chair next to the fireplace, and don’t be surprised to see a stuffed stag’s head or suit of armor masquerading as decor. 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, nationalexemplar.com.

The Symphony Hotel

This hotel is a quiet spot for a cocktail or glass of wine near Music Hall, Memorial Hall and Washington Park. The historic bed-and-breakfast — housed in a restored 1871 mansion — offers nine rooms named after famous composers, a five-course pre-concert dinner in the onsite restaurant and a tasting room bar with a nice selection of bourbon. Only open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, this hidden gem also features live Jazz. 210 W. 14th St., Over-the-Rhine, symphonyhotel.com.

click to enlarge MOTR Pub - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger


When you want a side of sound with your booze

Bromwell’s HАRTH Lounge

If you follow the music press, Jazz music (particularly in a live setting) has died a million times over. Even if that was true, it must mean Jazz cats have nine million lives. The great American artform has proven its endurance over and over again. Every time Cincinnati’s Jazz club scene takes a shot, someone seems to step up. Joining the downtown live Jazz scene recently has been the Bromwell’s Härth Lounge, with its classy and romantic but laid-back and welcoming atmosphere and a rotation of local Jazz piano greats, including Steve Schmidt and Phil DeGreg, among others. 125 W. Fourth St., Downtown, bromwellsharthlounge.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 (pairs perfectly with whiskey). 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. For scooter and motorcycle enthusiasts, every Tuesday is bike night. And for Bluegrass fans, the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars bring down the house every Sunday. Look for the Northside postcard mural on the Otte Avenue side of the building to find your way. 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 including the Rollins Davis Band playing R&B on first Fridays and Sonny Moorman closing out the month on final Fridays with live Blues. 2442 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, the-greenwich.com.


MOTR Pub does two things really well: rocks your face off with loud music and sweaty crowds and serves up one hell of a burger. The bar hosts some of the best live shows in the city, highlighting local and touring Indie, Rock and Folk acts — all without a cover. Find larger acts across the street at sister establishment and venue the Woodward Theater, also helmed by the same team of longtime area music promoters. Along with excellent live music, MOTR is home to a lively sketch comedy and stand-up scene, late-night eats (including veggie and vegan options) and weekend brunch. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.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 venue, which was written about as one of the area’s “Best Kept Secrets” so often, it wasn’t really a secret anymore, particularly among the city’s Jazz players. 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.

Skeleton Root - Photo: Jesse Fox
Photo: Jesse Fox
Skeleton Root


For tastings, flights  and feeling fancy

1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab

Amid the crazy fun on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab manages to offer a relatively civilized oasis where you can hang out with friends — or your laptop — and enjoy excellent coffee or, more to the point, sample lovingly curated three-pour flights of sparkling, white or red wines from all over the world. Three different wines are served in numbered glasses; use the tasting notes from the menu and blindly identify which is which. See if you’re correct on a provided card. You also can buy bottles of your favorites to take home. 1215 Vine St., OTR, 1215vine.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, owner Zach Eidson revamped the basement and turned it into The Cellar bar. The subterranean bar features a full drink list, with wine and beer on tap, and upscale snacks. 4011 Allston St., Oakley, oakleywines.com.

Revel OTR Urban Winery

This unpretentious boutique winery and event space specializes in promoting local, regional and family-owned wineries. Revel makes its own small-batch house wine, 44 barrels at a time, 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, like a fizzy mojito made with prosecco and a Manhattan featuring malbec and brandy. 111 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, revelotr.com.

The Rhined

The Rhined is a little slice of cheese heaven located across from Findlay Market. The artisan shop stocks a collection of the best hand-selected domestic cheeses, plus wine, beer, nuts, olives and jams to accompany the dairy of your dreams. Grab the cheese to go by weight or eat inside on a curated cheese board, like a Midwest Flight, Soft Flight or Stinky Flight. From 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, you can enjoy pairings of cheese and wine flights crafted by the friendly staff with Italian Pét-Nats, New Zealand sauvignon blancs, Côtes de Provence rosé and more. 1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, therhined.com.

The Skeleton Root

This working winery and event space in OTR pays homage to Cincinnati’s wine history by producing heritage and French and European style wines, crushed and aged on site. Wines are produced in-house with minimal intervention, showcasing the terroir of the fruit in bottles of red, white and even rosé. The tasting room, with its beautiful illustration of grape harvesters on a Cincinnati hillside, is a perfect backdrop for happy hour and rotating live music, food and yoga events. 38 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine, skeletonroot.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 entrées. 3105 Price Ave., East Price Hill, sommwinebarcincinnati.com.


These bars have many TVs and access to futbol channels/packages

Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom

An official pub partner of FC Cincinnati (and creator of FC Cincinnati Blood Orange IPA), the Moerlein Malt House screens every match of the FCC soccer season. A slice of Cincinnati history, the subterranean brewery is home to Moerlein bottling operations and also sits above historic lagering tunnels used by Cincinnati beer barons of the past. Come for can releases, fresh taps, happy hour, trivia nights, restaurant pop-ups, tours and more. The taproom is also home to Wienerwurst Mike’s Frankfurtary, serving brats, metts and assorted other meats. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/christianmoerlein.


OTR’s original sports bar, Rhinehaus features more than 14 4k TVs, a projector, 16 occasionally rotating taps and channels/packages like NFL Sunday Ticket and FOX Soccer Channel. It’s the official bar for Die Innenstadt, LFC Cincinnati, Ohio Blues, Cincy Gooners, Cincy Hammers and Packers Everywhere. And weekend opening hours are based on European soccer schedules. 119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinehausbar.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. 3936 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, secondplacebar.com. 

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

Like a good Irish pub, this place can get rowdy; and like a good community gathering space, it hosts trivia nights, live Irish music and karaoke. For all you soccer fans, enjoy the best Guinness in town while you watch live English Premier League games (they even have a fantasy EPL league). It’s a local headquarters to see all FIFA World Cup games through July 15. As an official FCC partner, watch all games here or take a bar-provided shuttle to home matches. 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com.

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


Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name


If you’re looking for a friendly neighborhood dive bar to play pool and drink beer, this is your place. Animations has everything you’re looking for in a bar and nothing more — beer, pool, bathrooms. Simplicity is what makes this Oakley’s neighborhood bar. It’s sleepy during the week, poppin’ on the weekends and the same faces can be found there without fail. You’ll feel like you’re part of a ’70s dive bar sitcom — you know which one I’m talking about. 3059 Madison Ave., Oakley, searchable on Facbook. 


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, 513-751-6566.

Bay Horse Cafe

The historic Bay Horse Café, with roots dating back to 1817, reopened last summer 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 décor, 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, theBrew House offers funky décor, 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.

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. They pride themselves on bringing their Newport community together for over 15 years and will be hosting many NKY Pride events all June, which will feature tons a swag like custom whiskey glasses. 901 Washington Ave., Newport, searchable on Facbeook.


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 (including $2 Jameson and $3 drafts). 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/pub641.

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, searchable on Facebook. 

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, madonnabarandgrill.com.

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 CafО/ Mount Lookout Tavern

It’s Friday night: Everyone’s looking for love — or lust — in Mount Lookout. Try sister and brother bars Million’s Café and Mount Lookout Tavern — or MLTs, as the locals call it. They are basically mirror-image sports bars that specialize in easy bar food (like smoked wings), 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 is a neighborhood bar and grill with two floors and an outdoor patio. Enjoy peanuts — in the shell — while watching one of 14 TVs and explore the regularly rotating draft beer selection. Famous for their Shark Tank novelty cocktail: vodka, sprite, sour mix and a rubber shark filled with grenadine you pour in yourself; you get to take the shark home. 1998 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, obryonsirishpub.com.