From behind a pair of baby grand pianos, two pianists take audience requests each Friday and Saturday night at The Penguin Dueling Piano Bar, urging the crowd to sing along in a display of musical showmanship. The ivory ticklers hail from all over the country and belt out popular tunes from the past 50 years that they’ve memorized by heart or tattooed on the inside of their eyelids. Onlookers seated at tables around the stage or nestled into plush couches in the lounge sip cocktails, quaff brews, and dive into salty snacks. Although the show runs on Fridays and Saturdays, drinks specials pop up each night and salsa-night Wednesdays promise copious amounts of hip shaking.
Creating a custom-made wine is a lot more rewarding than producing questionable homemade toothpaste. At Tino Vino Vintners, the 6- to 10-week process begins with you “researching” (tasting) wine varietals to determine what you want yours to taste like. Five tastings will introduce your palate to its options in a round of speed dating for the taste buds. Next, the desired grapes are crushed, pressed, concentrated, and mixed with reverse-osmosis-filtered water, yeast, and other ingredients under the supervision of a winemaker. The winemaker will watch over your mixture’s progress during its two to three weeks of fermentation before stabilizing the wine with an optional clarifying agent and racking (removing sediment). Once your wine has been bottled, you may either pop it open and have a party or stash it away to let it age as gracefully as Burton Gilliam.
Among the city's best bars and nightclubs according to CityBeat's Best of Cincinnati poll, The Comet draws crowds with live music, a menu of classic Mexican favorites, and a massive selection of suds. Start a salutatory mouth soiree with a plate of nachos crowned by cheese, sour cream, black beans, and jalapeños ($7.50), or begin with a salsa sampler featuring a quartet of house-made salsas, one for each of your taste buds ($5). Like savory, soft piñatas, chicken, beef, or tofu burritos come stuffed with black and/or pinto beans, rice, cheese, and salsa ($6), and chile con queso gives tortilla chips a refreshing dairy bath in white-cheese dip ($4). A Sunday brunch starting at 11 a.m. helps give the weekend a flavorful hybrid-meal finish.
As bartenders pour more than 75 aromatic whiskeys and single malts from a healthy menu of mixology-inspired cocktails, a team of chefs diligently reduce the same amber potions into savory sauces. These potent condiments flow freely over burgers and pizzas, punching up classic American flavors with the distinctive kick of Old Grand-Dad, Fireball, and Jack Daniels. On select nights, live bands flood the expansive eatery with catchy riffs and pumping bass, drowning out the clacks of colliding stripes and solids upon red-felted pool tables. An exclusive VIP area gussied up with sleek leather couches and velvet ropes hosts bottle service—vodka, gin, and scotch vie for tumblers' attention. Whisky Bar's private game room hosts corporate events and private parties, and a cavernous, free-access parking lot accommodates up to 150 cars, which is the same number of cars Evel Knievel once flew over—on United Airlines flight 1232.
If you're not paying attention as you walk down Elder Street, a big pink ice-cream cone will stop you in your tracks. This cone stands sentinel in front of the bright-blue façade of Swirly Bears, an old-fashioned ice-cream and candy shop. Customers can duck into the friendly space to peruse its candy offerings or satisfy their sweet teeth with a classic ice-cream treat, such as a float, shake, or banana split loaded with three scoops of ice cream and as many toppings as the customer wants. Even the parlor's candy-making classes and parties begin with a round of ice-cream sundaes, much like wrestling matches of old.