Renters of the Vault Lounge saunter past Imbibe Martini Bar's open-to-the-public service area, through a fortified door, and into the converted 100-year-old First Federal Bank saferoom, where they can kick off the most exclusive of festivities. Pop a bottle of bubbly surrounded by classic woodwork and wine racks, toasting to both the classy confines and the newfound knowledge of how it feels to be a million bucks.
Housed inside the Old B&O Train Station, Rust Belt brews nine craft beers, with a handful more scheduled for release early next year. Each Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., fans of yeast and hops can gather 'round head brewer Lee Gidley as he guides them on a tour of the brewery, showing them equipment, explaining the brewing process, and doling out samples of the luscious liquid gold. When the half-hour tour concludes, everyone receives a commemorative Rust Belt Brewery T-shirt, a souvenir pint glass, and a jolly memory to overtake the brain space currently inhabited by knowledge of the Gigli plot. If the tour inspires a powerful thirst for more, Rust Belt sells growlers of their guzzleables to take home, and the neighboring Boxcar Lounge has Rust Belt on tap.
Bill's Place serves customers with brew-house favorites, wings, sandwiches, and a bevy of other tasty bites. Bill's famous jumbo wings ($.50 each for dine-in, $.60 for carryout), a house specialty, are smothered with a symphony of sauces, including hot, mild, garlic, barbecue, Cajun, and honey mustard, and served with dips for an extra cost. Veggie-heads with human arms can finger-attack the veggie basket, filled with dippable onion rings, green pepper rings, mushrooms, and cauliflower and a choice of large dipping sauce ($5.30). Chomp on chicken fingers ($4.25 for five with a small dipping sauce, $5.25 for a basket with fries and ranch sauce) or the beefy Bill's burger ($4.85) with a large side of fresh-cut french fries ($2.75) inside, where hanging televisions showcase sporting events and neon-signs light up the faces of ghost storytellers.
Hookah is all about embracing a slower pace of life. When seated in front of a shisha, one is committed to doing nothing, at least for a little while. The street cafes of Cairo hum with groups of friends exercising this ethos, taking turns inhaling sweet, fragrant smoke and sipping tea. Despite Pittsburgh’s distance from the Sahara, KOAL Hookah Lounge brings a bit of that mentality to Slippery Rock.
After boiling tobacco leaves with one of 21 fruit varietals, the staff at KOAL pack ornate water pipes for parties of three or five. Though most menu flavors reflect long-established tradition, the lounge experiments with unconventional blends such as the Vanilla Sky, a mixture of vanilla and blackberry tobacco. The modern décor further illustrates this embrace of old and new, with track lighting illuminating a bottle-lined wall, and bold reds encapsulating a row of sleek black stools. Guests can dramatically exhale on the outdoor patio, as well, as they savor hot chocolate and fervently detail the interesting dream they had last night.
For four generations, the same family has tilled the soil beneath the grape vines that thrive at Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard. Originally used to grow grain, hay, soybeans, and wheat, the land saw its first vines in 2006, and grapes have been planted each subsequent year. Now totaling 10 acres, up to eight grape varietals flourish on the land. The result of these planting efforts is a host of handcrafted wines and ciders, including 2012 Ohio Wine Competition award winners Tipsy Conductor and Engine Number 5. All of Barrel Run Crossing’s wines are available for sampling in the spacious tasting room and for purchase by the thimble, glass, or bottle.
C Tavern Smokehouse Grille, a restaurant nestled in Ohio wine country, serves up large portions of homestyle comfort food in an inviting space with polished wood floors and a stone wall serving as the backdrop. Beer-battered Great Lakes fish, 8-ounce steak burgers, and garlicky shepherd's pies stuffed with smoked meats and smashed potatoes are among its specialties. Diners can pair main courses with pours of wine, beer, and mixed drinks, such as the pumpkin martini.