If you associate the holidays with drinking or just need to chemically alter yourself before or after family gatherings, here are some of the best places to live it up this season.
Tonic on 4th
Tonic on 4th is where to go when you want to hang out with bartenders who know what they’re doing. In fact, the last time I was there, one of the bartenders had just bought an antique bartending manual at Ohio Book Store and was ready to make us a drink with absinthe (not the dangerous kind). She was also happy to whip up a new drink for my friend based on his preferences.
If you order from the menu, you’ll be introduced to more pre-prohibition-era drinks than you could ever imagine, including the Moscow Mule, vodka and ginger beer that is basically an alcoholic ginger ale. Also, enjoy the free sugar cookie and warm milk spiked with bourbon that you get with your check. Warning: It makes you sleepy. If you get the munchies, try the fries or potato skins. Because Tonic is associated with newly opened Local 127, all food has a gourmet touch. 125 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-721-1345, mytonicon4th.com
The Righteous Room
So what if you order four drinks for two and have a $60 check — the cozy shotgun shack that is The Righteous Room (part of the 4EG group of bars, which includes the Mount Adams Pavilion, The Stand and aliveOne) makes it worth it.
Just across the street from the Aronoff Center (and a popular hangout for arts patrons, after-dinner revelers and service industry workers), the dimly lit environ with dark Victorian wallpaper is a good place to share the secrets of your soul while imbibing with a good friend.
And you know that if you order a glass of wine it’s going to be good — no cheap wine or pouring from an old bottle here. 641 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-4408, therighteousroom.com
The Wine Cellar
There’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than a neighborhood known for monks and wine. Stroll down St. Gregory Street, enjoy the white lights and stop in at The Wine Cellar, where regulars have their own wine lockers with their favorites stored inside. Non-wine-drinkers can also choose from over 50 imported and domestic beers.
Everyone can enjoy the warm, lively atmosphere and live music, featured four nights a week. 1101 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-241-9009, winecellar.bz
The Blind Lemon
The cozy Blind Lemon — a Cincinnati staple since it opened in 1963 — is quaint and European. Stroll down the stone stairs into the cave of a bar with its exposed brick, tiny flickering candles and lone guitarist crooning in the corner. You’ll definitely hear a lot of James Taylor, which can be romantic if you’re of a certain age.
The best thing about The Blind Lemon is the fire and the spiked coffee drinks that give you that warm cozy feeling on a winter night. It’s a good place to keep warm and snuggle with a loved one. 938 Hatch St., Mount Adams, 513-241-3885, theblindlemon.com
CONTACT HEATHER SMITH: firstname.lastname@example.org