Founded in 2010 after the co-founders found themselves on the wrong side of a downsizing, Blackrocks Brewery has grown from a tiny 1bbl nano brewery to a full-on local microbrewery operation. Located near the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, this brewery/bar offers a lineup of taps that typically change every week, with a few fan favorites sticking around on a semi-regular basis. The brew house also plays host to live music five nights a week, either inside, or outdoors — the latter making the spacious front porch the ideal chillout spot.
Named after the infamous bungalow No. 8 at the Beverly Hills Hotel — home to many a late-night forbidden tryst — No. 8 exudes some of the same style, and we assume serves as the site for some discrete hookups, as well. Located in the Chelsea arts district, this two-floor affair features a ballroom-like atmosphere on the main floor, with banquet tables, a lounge area, and a U-shaped bar, and a vinyl lounge upstairs boasting a curated collection of over 8,000 albums. Terrific small plates account for the food, but the cocktails are the real star, with excellently paired ingredients and a slightly different menu on each floor.
Not all pubs are created equal. Opened in 1976, the Horse Brass Pub has been serving up great beer and tasty food for decades. And unlike some wannabe "pubs", the Horse boasts a traditional English-style atmosphere, with a couple of dart boards, rich wood everywhere, and a friendly atmosphere. The beer list boasts over 50 local, regional, and imported options — including a handful of cask-conditioned selections — served up in 10 oz. glasses or 20 oz. Imperial pints, as appropriate. As for the food, the menu consists of all the British options you'd expect — like pot pies, pasties, and fish & chips — alongside burgers, sandwiches, and salads. As the Pub itself claims, "if it were any more authentic, you'd need a passport."
Some of the best bars you'll ever go to are in out-of-the-way places. In small towns, hidden alleyways, up on rooftops, and down unmarked basement stairs. But never have we seen one in the middle of a river. Until now. Murinsel Cafe sits in the middle of the Mur river, and can be accessed by footbridges that extend from either shore. Built just ten years ago, the unique structure is home to both indoor and outdoor areas, an amphitheater, and a cafe that does just as well making a coffee as they do pouring a drink. [Scouted by Rob]
It might not look like much from the outside, and it certainly has a dive-worthy history, but if you're a fan of whisky, there's no where better to head in SoCal than The Aero Club. Located just off I-5 near the airport, this historic watering hole — it opened in 1947 — boasts one of the West Coast's most impressive selections of whiskies, with over 750 varieties available at last count. They also boast an interesting clientele, two pool tables, a decent jukebox, and a solid selection of beers — both on tap and in the bottle — but if you don't order at least one dram of the brown stuff, you're missing the point.
In a town that's created more than its share of villains — both real and imagined — it only makes sense that they'd have their own bar. And while you won't find Lord Voldemort or Dr. Evil holding court at Villains Tavern, what you will find is a fittingly ornate interior, a cocktail menu of carefully-prepared drinks — several of which are on tap — and a short but satisfying food menu. Out on the patio of this Arts District establishment, you'll find a circus-like canopy, seating, and a stage that frequently plays host to local up-and-coming artists.
We've been fans of Abita's beer since our first sip of Turbodog long ago, but if you want to experience their brews at their freshest, you have to make a trip to the source. The Abita Brew Pub should do nicely. Housed in the same building where Abita originally brewed and bottled its beer — the original tanks are even in view — this laid-back spot serves up the company's full lineup, including Purple Haze, Turbodog, and Restoration, as well as seasonal and harvest beers, a beer selected by the brewmasters, and a guest beer that's brewed elsewhere but beloved by Abita's workers. Of course, they also serve a full menu of food, featuring pub standards like burgers, ribs, sandwiches, and wings, but augmented by local favorites like jambalaya, crawfish, and pecan crusted catfish.
It doesn't have a sign, it boasts exposed brick walls (hence the name), it's dimly lit, and you can't tell it's a bar from the street — because it's on the second floor. But despite these speakeasy qualities, Brick & Mortar is much closer to a friendly neighborhood bar than a hush-hush hall of mixology. It does serve damn tasty cocktails, but alongside a handful of beers on tap, Pacifico and Budweiser in bottles, and a selection of shots — and by shots, we mean "drink this whole thing in one gulp". Not exactly speakeasy fare, and neither is the above average food, which includes duck fries, waffle chips, and other tasty fried goods.
We're not really sure why it's called the Raven Grill — there's no grill to speak of, and in fact, we don't think they even serve food — but thanks to a healthy dose of dive magic, the name fits anyway. Located in Mount Pleasant, the Raven boasts one of the best jukeboxes in the territory, colorful patrons, cheap drinks, friendly bartenders, appropriately graffiti'd restrooms, and an interior that doesn't appear to have been touched in the last decade or more. In other words, everything a dive bar should have.
Sure, it serves food — very good food, in fact — but you don't make a trip to one of the country's best wine bars just to eat. Led by Sommelier Jeremy Quinn, Telegraph is a Logan Square establishment serving up a highly curated selection of wines focused rare and European offerings, with over 20 available by the glass. There's also a similarly well-considered selection of beers on tap, a handful of specialty cocktails, and a $35 three-course dinner that's far more impressive than its price suggests.
It doesn't really look like a bar — you walk up on a porch and through a front door to enter — but once inside, there's no doubting the mixology magic at work. The Patterson House is perhaps the best bar in the Music City, serving up refined, carefully considered takes on classic cocktails, painstakingly made by hand and served in a comfortable, speakeasy-like atmosphere. The drinks are sorted by spirit, becoming more adventurous as you head down the list, the bartenders are friendly, knowledgeable, and highly-skilled, and the snacks are great — but if you're looking for something a little more robust, head upstairs to The Catbird Seat, an intimate, chef's table tasting menu that's just as impressive as its downstairs neighbor.
Ever tried to decide between heading to the local record shop or stopping somewhere to have a drink? Neither have we, but at Mojo Record Bar, it's not even an issue. This unique spot sits below street level, and features a well-stocked record store — with a huge selection of vinyl — in the front, and a terrific bar in the back. As you might imagine, this combo makes for some very relaxed browsing experiences, and killer tunes on the speakers in the bar. Shop, drink, whatever — just make sure you go.