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Talk a Walk on the West Side

Craft beers, craft cocktails and good bourbon are popping up at West Side bars

By Jessica Baltzersen · April 23rd, 2014 · Drinking Issue
drinking_jtaps_catieviox3Jtaps - Photo: Catie Viox
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The West Side of Cincinnati: To some, it’s a foreign country, uncharted territory — a mystery. Outsiders may mock it and oftentimes underestimate it, assuming it’s home to nothing more than chain restaurants and a church on every corner. But delve deeper and you’ll discover that inside its high school loyalty and tight-knit community, the West Side is proving itself in the city’s drinking scene, upping the ante with wider beer selections, specialty drinks and unique atmospheres. 

DEAN'S HOPS AND VINES

Nestled in the heart of Cheviot, the recently opened Dean’s Hops and Vines offers a beer and booze selection unlike anything else on the West Side. With more than 150 craft beers that rotate weekly, Dean’s doesn’t serve any domestic beers. That’s right — Bud Light and Miller Lite lovers have to go outside their comfort zone when entering this establishment. 

“When you come into Dean’s, we want you to have a different experience — to sample, try and learn something new,” says Eileen Borgmann, the shop’s owner.

Borgmann is also owner of another Cheviot bar, Fogarty’s Irish Pub, located just around the corner from Dean’s Hops and Vines. 

Her two bars have differing décor and vibes. While Fogarty’s is known for its 30 or so craft beers on tap, selection of specialty bottled beer, pub crowd, large outdoor patio and shuffleboard, Dean’s has an upscale décor with a large crystal chandelier, fresh cut flowers, a soft candlelit glow and quiet acoustic music. 

And Dean’s full bar specializes in wine, bourbon (50 types and counting) and an overwhelming selection of craft beers, including 3 Floyds, Bell’s, 5 Stones, Rhinegeist, MadTree and Triple Digit.  

They plan to open their kitchen soon to offer tapas to pair with their different beers and wines and to hold wine tastings and beer classes in the future.

“I hear so many people speak negatively about the West Side and Cheviot and it really makes me upset,” Borgmann says. “There are new bars, restaurants and businesses opening all around the West Side.

We are on the on the up and up, and I’m really excited to see it change and be a part of it.”

Dean’s Hops and Vines, 3722 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, facebook.com/deanshv.

JTAPS

For almost a decade, JTaps has been a family-owned and -operated West Side sports bar and grill with added Greek flavor. Recently, they renovated both the bar’s interior and exterior plus installed a garage door leading to an outdoor patio. And after the updates, they wanted to broaden their drinking game outside of their sports-bar roots. 

In February of this year, the bar added 20 new tap handles featuring local microbrews. “We wanted to move away from the typical West Side sports bar and do something fun and different,” says co-owner Pete Vasiliou. The local brews include selections from Blank Slate, MadTree, Rhinegeist, Christian Moerlein, Rivertown and Mt. Carmel. 

The renovation and addition of taps sparked rejuvenation in their other booze selections as well. They now feature a house-made sangria; fruit-infused vodka with seven different types of fresh fruits including blackberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, cucumber, orange, kiwi and fresh mint; their own bloody marys with a house-made mix that are the perfect blend of spicy and smooth; specialty margaritas with house-made sweet and sour and freshly squeezed lime juice; and a new bourbon selection. 

“We are upping our selection because of the opportunity to bring in more and different clientele on the West Side,” Vasiliou says. “We are looking to attract more of a variety of people as there is now a higher demand for craft beer, especially local craft.” 

Their draft and bottle list is constantly updating and changing with the season, and they offer growlers to-go for those who want to take their favorite craft beer home with them. The neighborhood bar heavily values the costumer’s wants and needs in their drink choice demands. 

“Customer and staff input is probably the most important factor in our selection,” Vasiliou says. “I personally go on missions to track down drinks and beers that appeal to our crowd — and I have to say, it’s a good part of my job.”

JTaps, 6441 Glenway Ave., Westwood, facebook.com/jtaps.bar.

INCLINE PUBLIC HOUSE 

Arguably the best place to “drink with a view” on the West Side (and maybe any side), the Incline Public House, situated at the top of Price Hill, prides itself on a specialty selection of craft beers and cocktails featuring anywhere from four to eight local beers on draft at a time, plus an extensive bottled beer and bourbon and scotch list. (They have almost 20 bourbon/scotch options currently, including a Glenfiddich 18-year.) The bar and restaurant’s 1,400-square-foot deck gives guests a panoramic view of downtown Cincinnati, the Ohio River and the hills of Kentucky, with city lights glittering across the vista nightly.

“The mission of Incline Public House is to create a unique experience for guests, where they can enjoy craft beer, craft cocktails and good wine,” says co-owner Tony Cafeo.

Bar manager Kevin Geers chooses beer by the season and seeks out hard-to-find brews like Bell’s Hop Slam, La Trappe trappist beer and Sculpin IPA. 

“We like to highlight local breweries, hard to find and unique beers,” Cafeo says. 

Like the restaurant’s menu, the alcohol selection changes seasonally and the spring/summer cocktail, bottle beer and wine list includes all new martini’s — “Summer Tinis” — like the Creamcicle, with Oyo vanilla vodka, RumChata, simple syrup and Grand Marnier, and cocktail pitchers like the Summer Cucumber, with cucumber vodka, cucumber juice, lime juice and tonic. They’ve also added a selection of fruity brews like a Stiegl Radler grapefruit and Strongbow cider, plus seasonal local selections from MadTree, Rivertown and Sam Adams.

Incline Public House, 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, inclinepublichouse.com.


 
 
 
 

 

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