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.
At Local's Sports Bar & Grill, the food options are numerous and appealing, but it might be the party room that's most appetizing. In that private space, guests who reserve it can lounge back in leather recliners and watch one of five flat-screen TVs. They can even enjoy it catered, as servers can tote in plates of New York strip steak or shallot-encrusted salmon, quite exquisite options at a bar scene. Local ingredients make up a significant amount of the restaurant's culinary roster, and when they're not busy making burgers, the staff celebrates sports by airing NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Full Court, and MLB Extra Innings.
Mixologist Molly Wellman and chef Dan Wells combine their expertise at Japp's Cocktails and Candy Classes, where they teach groups to concoct their own cocktails and candies. In classes that are half hands-on learning and half demonstration, students twist handmade candy canes or make sheets of nutty peanut brittle. Glasses brim with virgin cocktails mixed with ingredients such as plum cider or root beer bitters; for an additional fee, a bartender will splash in shots of liquor. After classes have ended, students leave with their own printouts of the day's recipes.
Doughby's satisfies cravings for flaky stuffed pastries with its hearty calzones and crepes. Golden-brown calzone crusts hug chicken, pork, steak, beef, and vegetable fillings and come in 50 different combinations that quiet a rumbling stomach much more pleasantly than swallowing a pacifier. Twenty-six crepes hold similar savory fillings or sweet stuffings, such as Nutella, strawberries, and bananas. To satisfy late-night revelers, Doughby's stays open until 4 a.m. on the weekends.
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 Wine Guy Bistro, 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.