At Ace Bartending's 40-foot bar, ice clinks against glasses and prospective mixologists chatter during hands-on courses. Instructors wax informational about the history and production of liquor before outlining state and municipal legal requirements for serving alcohol or distributing liquor to horses. As students progress, they migrate to eight functional bartending stations that feature working carbon dioxide lines, and lessons feed hungry brains tidbits of information on the use of glassware and garnishes to craft a beverage with fitting aesthetic appeal. The curriculum bounds across a bubbling, colorful rainbow of 200 different drinks and recipes.
In addition to hands-on demonstrations and role-playing exercises, courses hand down lessons on how to land a job as a bartender and give tips for job interviews. The classroom's walls, like those of a real bar, are crowded with colorful bottles, lit by crackling neon beer signs, and held together by flyers for bands seeking bassists.
Though it’s a national brand with locations sprinkled across 14 states, Chevys Fresh Mex doesn’t succumb to shortcuts at any of its restaurants. The expert chefs at each eatery gather together fresh ingredients to prepare the entire menu from scratch, whether they’re infusing chicken enchiladas with chipotles or simmering fragrant cauldrons of their homemade tortilla soup. Even though this hands-on approach harkens back to the foundations of Mexican culinary traditions, chefs also give each dish a contemporary twist—tacos meet flavorful drizzles of chipotle aioli, slow-roasted carnitas mingle with fresh oranges and lemons alongside fajita platters. Meanwhile, bartenders engage in serious agave innovation with top-shelf margaritas in flavors such as prickly pear and spicy mango.
Maison Gourmet's culinary artists channel French cooking techniques to craft cuisine cataloged on an extensive menu. Saturday and Sunday brunch rewards early-rising appetites with delectables such as Maison's omelet stuffed with ham, mushrooms, and swiss cheese ($7). Limber chomping muscles with sweet and savory crêpes, or munch on meal-prefacing portions of ham and cheese croissants ($3.95). A glass of Cotes de Rhone red wine from France pairs well with escargots en persillade ($10.95)—snails under a blanket of garlic-parsley sauce—and hearty helpings of beef bourguignon ($15.95) erase hunger pangs faster than the speed of light: 28 mph. Postmeal cool downs begin with crème brûlée, rich custard cream cloaked in a layer of crispy, warm caramel that sneaks into mouths to goose unsuspecting sweet teeth ($6.95).
Red Zone Sports Bar and Grill envelops sports fans in a laid-back atmosphere while servers whisk classic pub fare such as pork sandwiches and flatbread pizzas to tables teeming with pints of Sam Adams, bottles of Guinness, and a cascade of buzz-worthy cocktails. Guests can bask in the glow of flat-screen TVs indoors as their favorite teams duke it out, or venture to the outdoor patio for breeze-kissed dining. Specials such as happy hour and all-you-can-eat wings stretch themselves across the weekly calendar, while college night on Thursdays encourages scholars to debate the merits of sandwiches versus wraps through dissertations written on bar napkins.
There's an old saying—play football on an empty stomach, get an empty scoreboard. Today’s deal lines your stomach with the heavy-duty padding it will need to rush the nosebacker and score the touchpoint. For $10, you get $20 toward edibles and drink at Tom’s NFL American Sports Bar and Grill. The team at Tom's has been in practice for the past 25 years, and after such strict conditioning, its at the top of its game. You can use one Groupon for every two people at the table, so huddle up a group of your best offenders.
Splitsville explores contemporary consumption within a bowling framework, combining swankiness with three bars, and a full-service restaurant. Splitsville’s menu, developed under the guidance of one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs of 2008 Tim Cushman, stacks up and knocks down a cadre of ville plates ($5–$14) including spicy edamame and three-pepper calamari, stomach-stuffing signature plates ($14–$19) including the mahi mahi with voodoo shrimp and filet mignon, and big bowl drinks ($21) including the rum bowl and voodoo juice bowl. Diners sprinkle the restaurant with chatter as they dive into their choice of sauced steaks, generous pizzas, and rolls from the on-site sushi bar to the musical vibrations blowing from the speakers. After 8 p.m., all diners younger than 21 turn into pumpkin-shaped bowling balls and the fine hobby-sport decorum requests an evening-casual dress code as the crowd usurps the restaurant’s reins for nocturnal nourishment with energetic music.