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.
Unless you're a hardcore cocktail nerd, one of the most difficult parts of ordering a complex drink is understanding how the ingredients work together — and what they taste like. Pouring Ribbons makes it easy. This second-floor East Village bar — created by the minds behind such well-regarded watering holes as The Violet Hour and Bradstreet Craftshouse — uses a simple set of scales to give you a clue as to each drink's personality. Less boozy, more accessible drinks will have their markers placed closer to "refreshing" and "comforting", while wilder, more potent concoctions lean towards "spiritous" and "adventurous". The bartenders are more than happy to help out with recommendations — be sure to ask about their Chartreuse collection — and the atmosphere strikes a good balance between inviting and overly dim, making it an ideal place to begin or end your night.
It can be a bit tricky to find — plenty of people that live in town seem to have missed it — but once you find it, you'll likely find yourself at Foundation quite often. This subterranean bar offers nothing more than a single neon light — and possibly a lengthy line, depending on the night — to signify its existence, but head down the stair and into the door and you'll find a fantastic, lounge-y interior, a handful of local beers on tap, an extensive bottled brew menu, a terrific bourbon selection, and expertly-crafted cocktails that change seasonally and taste just as good downstairs as they do on the patio.
In a town where older buildings are routinely razed to create new, more elaborate, and (hopefully) more profitable replacements, Atomic Liquors is something of an exception to the rule. Founded in 1952 just down the street from Old Vegas stalwarts like the Golden Nugget and Binion's, Atomic is the oldest freestanding bar in town, named for the fact that you used to be able to sit on the roof and watch nuclear blasts from the Atomic Test Site. With a huge wrap around bar and a guest book that includes The Rat Pack, the Smothers Brothers, Barbra Streisand, and — more recently — Anthony Bordain, it's a great place to enjoy a little bit of history in a town that could use more of it.
Yes, the Old Western Saloon used to be a bordello — but that's only part of what gives it a special charm. Opened near the turn of the century — the 20th century, that is — this classic dive bar features a stage in the middle that plays host to live music, a Winchester mounted on the wall (for use in case of a zombie outbreak, we're assuming), an excellent jukebox filled with classic rock, a pool table, a vintage cash register — you won't be using cards here — and appropriately surly bartenders that eventually warm up based on your level of inebriation and generosity.
If you're anything like us, the name of this Indianapolis bar will immediately remind you of the epic White Stripes track of a similar name. Not to disappoint, but The Ball & Biscuit actually got its name from the 1930's STC 4021 microphone, which is on display — along with a lot of other vintage mics and recording equipment — in the bar. However, the two are still related, as an STC 4021 was used in the recording of the song, and might have served as an inspiration for its name. Or it could be alluding to a drug problem. Anyway, at this Ball & Biscuit you can expect to find excellent cocktails — several with music-related names — as well as a solid selection of beer, wine, and finger-friendly foods. Feel free to refer some friends — no soapbox necessary.
Let's say you like some combination of bicycles, beer, coffee, and/or food. And let's say you're looking for somewhere to eat/drink/get your bike worked on. Say hello to Look Mum No Hands! Located in Barbican, this multi-purpose spot offers good coffee, local beers, tasty food, and bike repairs. In addition, it also boasts a projector that regularly plays cycling events, plenty of power sockets for gadget recharging, free Wi-Fi for said gadgets, and an energetic atmosphere that makes it a great place to hangout while that repair's being done. And if you're not in the neighborhood, don't fret — there's now a second location on Mare Street as well.
You don't have to be a whiskey drinker to enjoy yourself at The Alembic — but it certainly doesn't hurt. Boasting one of the most impressive selections of bourbon, whiskey, and rye in the city, this Haight spot can be a little cramped at times, but is well worth the effort it takes to secure a seat. The cocktails are excellent, covering bases both old and new, and the selection of beer, wine, and other spirits is impressive, as well. Rounding out the offerings is a food menu made up of small plates that are as impressively creative as the drinks.
Yes, Saloon is technically a saloon — but it's also so much more. This subterranean Davis Square establishment takes its inspiration from pre-prohibition New York City bar, focusing on brown liquors and local beers. Whiskey is a particular favorite of the staff, with well over 100 varieties stocked behind the bar, along with draft beers and a small selection of red and white wines, available by the bottle or glass. There's also a surprisingly ambitious food menu, which while short, offers dishes like braised pork shanks and short ribs, pan-seared salmon, roasted half-chickens, charcuterie, and, should you forget you're in a saloon, chicken wings.