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.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The W.G. Kitchen & Bar, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
In 1985, Jim Mellody had a simple dream: to create a neighborhood pub where friends, family, and nice-looking strangers could enjoy good food and sports. So, with his wife, Jeanette, he opened the first of the now-famous Beef ?O? Brady?s, filling the first Brandon, Florida, location with sports memorabilia and TVs. The menu?which has grown over the years as the franchise has birthed more than 200 outposts?celebrates American pub classics with an Irish twist, including an Irish blessing on every menu. The expansive menu can quell any number of cravings, with hearty dishes such as award-winning jumbo wings hand tossed in 12 signature sauces and pretzel roll Angus sliders with thick-cut bacon, all served with homestyle shakes or domestic drafts.
O'Malley's in the Alley takes pride in being the second-oldest bar in town, which is why the owners have left touches like the low tin ceilings intact. But while it's easy to imagine some Prohibition-era couple darting into the Vine Street alley to knock back drinks there, the bar isn't devoid of modern touches. In fact, its intimate, narrow space is filled with enough flat-screen TVs to give every seat a view of the game. Sports are why many people come to this Cincinnati magazine pick for Top Five Downtown Dives, whether they're on their way to the nearby Great American Ballpark or just need a raucous place to watch. Even on a game-less night, people still stop in to eat a burger or to make sure beer hasn't gone extinct.
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.
A Cincinnati-staple since the early 70's, Uncle Woody's Pub has built a dedicated crew of regulars with its old fashioned bar feel, classic American pub fare, and entertainment-focused atmosphere. The menu tempts guests with half-pound specialty burgers like the BBQ Bearcat or the Ragin' Cajun and guilty-pleasure appetizers such as loaded fries with cheese and bacon, and the full bar boasts daily and weekly specials. Seven flat-screen TVs and a 92-inch projection screen thrill patrons with basketball and football games, and darts and karaoke keep patrons busy on various nights throughout the week while their outside deck accommodates fair-weather revelry.