From behind a pair of baby grand pianos, two pianists take audience requests each Friday and Saturday night at The Penguin Dueling Piano Bar, urging the crowd to sing along in a display of musical showmanship. The ivory ticklers hail from all over the country and belt out popular tunes from the past 50 years that they’ve memorized by heart or tattooed on the inside of their eyelids. Onlookers seated at tables around the stage or nestled into plush couches in the lounge sip cocktails, quaff brews, and dive into salty snacks. Although the show runs on Fridays and Saturdays, drinks specials pop up each night and salsa-night Wednesdays promise copious amounts of hip shaking.
Within Anand Indian Restaurant's bustling kitchen, a team of culinary alchemists carefully blends herbs and spices for its diverse range of Indian dishes. The chefs call upon North Indian traditions to craft tandoori plates, where a special clay oven locks seasoned juices inside cuts of meat better than a mime gives directions to the highway. Meanwhile, South Indian recipes forge Uttappam, Indian-style pancakes crowned with chilis and vegetables, and dosa, thin rice crêpes bundled with savory fillings. Meanwhile, more than 20 meatless dishes offer mouthfuls of creamed lentils, house-made cheese cubes, and sweet baby carrots imbued with light spices.
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.
As if the big game wasn't reason enough to head to DJ's Sports Tavern, the pub offers game-day specials, such as a beer bucket during Reds games, and daily specials, such as pizza and a pitcher night. Even if patrons aren't there for the specials, they can savor entree after meaty entree. Chefs slather barbecue sauce atop pulled pork, fry pork chops, and assemble the signature Cincy sandwich: thin-sliced prime beef in onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese sauce. DJ's pairs these dishes with sides of tater tots and cheese, as well as occasional live music performances.