Manager Ben Mattis handcrafts Hawgs & Dogs Bar and Grill's all-beef hotdogs and exotic BBQ items from scratch with meats smoked in-house. A platter of roadhouse chili dogs ($8) gussies up two quarter-pound hotdogs with ground beef chili, a pile of fries, and a Jackson Pollock copy painted in mustard. Chefs expand the menu with an array of chicken sandwiches and entrées, including a Budweiser-soaked chicken breast doused in flour, flung it into a frying pan, and deposited securely onto a fluffy Kaiser roll ($6.50). Pools of home-style gravy camouflage a six-ounce country fried steak against a predatory duo comprised of mashed potatoes and Texas toast ($10).
Full, foamy pints pour from the 22 taps at McGinty’s Pub amid the clatter of pool cues and shuffleboard pucks. Glasses not being pressed to walls by eavesdropping secret agents fill with domestic drafts such as Bud Light ($2) and craft brews such as amber-hued Boulevard Chocolate Ale ($6). Other on-tap picks average $3.50 a pint and include classics such as Blue Moon, Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Bells Two Hearted Ale.
Freezing Missouri winter winds howl outside Tropical Liqueurs' fogged-up windows, but inside, the atmosphere is decidedly beach-like. Palm trees and nautical knickknacks decorate the lively interior, but the true stars of this tropically themed watering hole are the frozen-drink dispensers, which churn with colorful, fruity potations. Bartenders load large styrofoam cups with potent slushies made from creative combinations of juices, liqueurs, and fruit purées. They rotate drink selections regularly, spotlighting a toasted-almond concoction one week—packed with coffee liquor, amaretto, and vanilla ice cream—and a daiquiri with fresh strawberries the next. Icy potations in hand, visitors turn their attention to games of pool or flat-screen televisions, which broadcast local sports games or horror movies where local sports games come to a temporary halt when the mascot turns out to be an actual tiger. During warmer months, visitors loll in the sun out on the wooden patio and enjoy the beverages that Inside Columbia hailed as a "Columbia staple" when it dubbed Tropical Liqueurs the Best Place for a Girls' Night Out in 2012.
When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.