The fact that it has karaoke and flat screens doesn’t diminish the authenticity of The Ould Sod, a Normal Heights Irish drinking institution carrying the name since 1989. Channeling the Emerald Isles, the neighborhood icon salutes towns from Dublin to Tipperary with flagship taps by Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s and Magners. It also nods to its U.S.A. craft beer turf with Ballast Point, Green Flash and Dogfish Head, while Irish whiskey flows for those preferring stronger spirits. Proprietors Tommy Quinn, Ron Stout and Mick Ward make certain that this isn’t merely a place where people go to drink, however; the pub oozes friendly Irish hospitality that draws regulars and newcomers to belly up to the bar, grab a stool and order a libation. While there’s no kitchen, patrons can quaff a pint with edibles from adjacent Heights Tavern and Country Kabob.
Asian and American karaoke styles join forces at Pandora Karaoke & Bar, whose moodily lit space hosts both an open stage for crowd-friendly crooners and 15 private rooms for groups. In either setting, singers scroll through Super Master touch-screen karaoke systems to choose from more than 100,000 songs in languages including English, Mandarin Chinese, and Frank Sinatra’s native pig Latin. Wireless microphones then capture crooning voices as lyrics scroll across 50-inch plasma TVs, serenading spectators as they munch sushi and Asian-fusion fare from the menu. Inside private rooms, colorful cushioned banquettes host groups of up to 40 harmonizers beneath themed decorations such as brewery logos or a rebus representing the complete lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger.”
From its origins in the 1860s as a house of ill repute to its time as a legally dubious watering hole during prohibition, The River City Saloon has deep roots in the seedy history of American nightlife. Today however, the saloon blends an old-timey aesthetic with more family-friendly fare. Kids can saunter up to the bar—a vintage 1905 triple-arch Brunswick—and order a glass of old west sarsaparilla, brewed locally at River City Brewing Company. Peanuts are also available, and visitors are welcome to throw the shells on the floor, in homage to the days when saloons had dirt floors and rampant elephant infestations.
The saloon's pub food is cooked with a hot-air fryer, a grease-free alternative to a deep fryer, and its hoagie sandwiches are served alongside chips and pickle spears. On the weekends, karaoke and music videos make old-west cowboys thankful that Bieber fever has a much lower casualty rate than yellow fever once did.
Ibiza Bartending Academy's resident bartenders steer students through mixology classes designed for beginners and experienced cocktail constructors alike. Scratch mixology’s surface using highball glasses as makeshift augers in a beginner-friendly four-hour bartending class. Students learn the basics of bartending before trying their hand behind a real bar, which requires none of the advanced miming degrees required to mix behind an imaginary bar. Ibiza offers a four-week certification course for those with professional ambitions or more established spirit-slinging skills. Cocktail-conjuring crafts are honed through either four four-hour sessions or eight two-hour sessions. At the end of the course, pupils will have the opportunity to take the speed and accuracy exams and become a fully certified bartender.
Bowlers lounge at the end of 22 glossy lanes that stretch across the floor at All Star Lanes. Each lane tracks their games with the automatic scorers, meaning players can leave their abaci at home. Post-frame, bowlers can head to the lounge for drinks and snacks while watching games displayed on nine televisions. Those seeking sit-down sustenance relax in the on-site restaurant, which serves hearty American, Chinese, and Mexican dishes. All Star Lanes was also recently featured in Pharrell Williams' music video for "Happy", a 24-hour music video in which he dances through the bowling alley at 11 p.m.
Common crooners and undercover celebrities belt out ballads all evening long at The Gaslite. Karaoke commences promptly at 7 p.m. every evening, provided that the bar's nine widescreen TVs are not showcasing the latest sporting events or insightful weather reports. While providing Tina Turner imitators with backup harmonies, patrons can sip on a variety of mixed drinks ($7–$12), beer ($4–$6), and wine ($7) to keep whistles in peak performing form. Stop in during happy hour from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and prepare for songs about buckets with $2 off all drinks or a bucket toting a quartet of domestic ($10) or imported beer ($12), then reuse the emptied container to douse championship-winning singers. The Gaslite is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and makes up for its lack of kitchen by providing a lengthy list of local eateries ready to deliver directly to your table.