Our friends over at Roadtrippers.com were kind enough—nay, courageous enough—to embark on a day drinking extravaganza to show just what Cincinnati has to offer. Here is their story:
They said it couldn’t be done. They said it probably shouldn’t be done. But, on Tuesday, September 9th, the gals from Roadtrippers attempted the impossible: an epic 16-bar tour of the Cincinnati Day Drinking scene. The mission: Explore the best places in Cincinnati to get a drink before happy hour. And since this is totally unprecedented, we knew it would require first-hand research. So my fearless boss Tatiana Danger and I did a little internet sleuthing, made a few phone calls, and came up with an itinerary of 16 (!!!) bars to visit before 6 p.m. Then, all we had left to do was drink our way across the city. —Anna Hider, roadtrippers.com
Stop 1: Red Roost Tavern
The scene: We joined the businessmen and pilots at this hotel bar for a very early boozy breakfast. Like 6:30 a.m.-early. The decor is definitely cooler than your standard hotel restaurant scene.
The drinks: There’s no classier way to kick off a day of getting wasted than mimosas, and these were excellent mimosas, made with fresh OJ and good champagne. They went well with our waffles and French toast.
Reactions: Thank God for hotel bars. It took a minute for the waiter to realize that they do, in fact, serve booze at 6:30 a.m. We’ll chalk it up to the fact that what we’re doing isn’t exactly the norm.
Stop 2: Horseshoe Casino
The scene: Empty slot machines as far as the eye can see. The place was almost empty—then again, who in their right mind would go to a casino at 7:45? Wait. Forget we asked that.
The drinks: We sat down at some penny slots (Van Helsing and Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome) and ordered our drinks, a sea breeze and a screwdriver, which were brought to us by a waitress who nicely explained to us how to use the slot machines. We promptly lost $2 each and then finished our drinks while we walked around and looked at the other themed slot machines.
Stop 3: 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab
The scene: Exposed brick walls. A single rose in a vintage glass bottle. A chalkboard with the menu written on it—in short, it’s hipster paradise. The guy and the girl behind the counter were super chill, and seemed very supportive of our quest.
The drinks: An Irish coffee (really high quality coffee with Jameson and fresh whipped cream) and a Pale Horse Bourbon Latte, a white chocolate and bourbon delight. They were both delcious.
Reactions: Our drinks were dangerously tasty. Dangerous because they tasted so good we could have kept drinking them, and because they were $8 a pop. Also, Tatiana decided that her next child will be named “Pale Horse Bourbon”. It has a nice ring to it.
Stop 4: Taste of Belgium
The scene: While everyone else was drinking coffee, we sat down and ordered two beers. Thankfully, the waiter didn’t bat an eyelash as to why two single 20-somethings needed craft beers at 10 a.m.
The drinks: A large Stella Artois and a Rhinegeist Franz. Drinking beer before noon is totally easy when you get the good stuff.
Reactions: The huge selection of pastries looked tempting, but we decided to save our appetites and stick to one of their many beers.
Stop 5: 21c Museum Hotel
The scene: Part art museum, part restaurant, part hotel, all awesome. We chatted with the bartender for a bit, then took our drinks down the hall to check out some of the crazy art exhibits and installations. The Frankenstein taxidermy was a favorite.
The drinks: A gin and tonic with house-made tonic and something called the Midnight Garden: It was sweet and peachy and just the right thing to have after those beers.
Reactions: Yet another hotel bar. If you’re really serious about day drinking, then definitely look for places in hotels. Also it was really nice to be able to walk around and explore instead of just sitting down.
Stop 6: Nada
The scene: It now being lunchtime, the place was packed with patrons. We sat at the bar and ordered some chips and salsa to go with our drinks—more beer.
The drinks: A Pacifico and a Rhinegeist Cougar: Nice, light beers that won’t weigh us down as we attempt to visit 10 more bars.
Reactions: Amazing chips and salsa. There’s something about chips and salsa that goes so well with beer. Plus the lively atmosphere kept us from getting too tired.
Stop 7: Nicholson’s Tavern and Pub
The scene: Outside on the shaded patio at a tall wooden table. The waitresses were all dressed in plaid skirts because, pub.
The drinks: Two white wine spritzers (made with Francis Ford Coppola wine), which seemed like an appropriate drink for sitting on a patio.
Reactions: The thought process behind getting white wine spritzers was to have something light and easy to drink, and sitting on the patio was definitely the right choice here.
Stop 8: The Eagle
The scene: We didn’t just come here for the drinks; we needed something to soak up the alcohol, and since all of the food at The Eagle is amazing, it made perfect sense. Our French dip sandwiches and mac and cheese were just what we needed.
The drinks: A pitcher of their infamous OTR iced tea to share with our co-workers who met us for lunch. The stuff tastes amazing, and it’s wicked strong. Our friends drank most of it.
Reactions: Getting a pitcher allowed us (or me at least) to pour myself a smaller glass. But if I hadn’t been eight drinks in, I would have had way more. Plus, just about everything on the menu here is prime drunk food.
Stop 9: Bakersfield OTR
The scene: We walked across the street and sat down at a long picnic table at this tasty taco joint for some chips, guac and (surprise) more drinks!
The drinks: One of their infamous margaritas and one Corona (which weirdly came in a can). We took our time working through the margarita—they’re exceptionally delicious and exceptionally strong.
Reactions: Maybe getting such a strong drink wasn’t the best idea, but since we weren’t repeating drinks, it was the perfect choice. The chips and guacamole are delicious, and even though we had just come from a big lunch, they helped soak up the margarita.
Stop 10: Kaze OTR
The scene: It was that awkward time between lunch and happy hour, so the place was dead. The waitress was nice enough to bring us some edamame beans to go with our drinks.
The drinks: We split a carafe of the house sake. The sake was a good way to mix things up—definitely not something you want to drink all day. But when you’re 10 bars in and not in the mood for another beer (each kind of beer counts as a different drink for those keeping score) it’s weirdly perfect.
Reactions: Taking time to sip on the sake was a good chance to relax, especially before the home stretch. There were still six more bars to hit.
Stop 11: Milton’s The Prospect Hill Tavern
The scene: This place has a cute dog and one of those digital game things, so we have no complaints. Plus, the owner was nice enough to give us free shots before we left.
The drinks: A gin & tonic (Tatiana’s first) and an Ommegang Witte. It was impressive that the little neighborhood bar had Ommegang, which isn’t exactly a well-known craft brewery.
Reactions: When has any story involving free shots ended well? We probably shouldn’t have taken them, given that we were aiming to just keep a nice buzz going all day rather than getting really drunk really fast, but seriously, who turns down free shots? It’s rude not to take them!
Stop 12: MOTR Pub
The scene: I’m not gonna lie. Things started to blur together here. We sat at the bar with the regulars and drank our beverages as fast as possible so we could make it to a few more bars before 6.
The drinks: A Vodka Diet Coke and a Yuengling. Fancy drinks be damned—we needed something that would be easy to down as fast as possible.
Reactions: During the day, MOTR has a few regulars hanging around, but it’s a good place for a quick drink. If we weren’t in a rush to get to the next bar, we probably would have had one of their delicious burgers, too.
Stop 13: The Famous Neons Unplugged
The scene: We walked through the spacious patio to the inside bar and grabbed our 13th drinks. Once again, we were in and out as fast as possible so we could finish our day strong. I remember that the bartender was a little shocked when he heard that we were on our 13th bar.
The drinks: A white Russian and an ice-cold glass of…water. Yep, I didn’t get a drink at Neon’s. I know. I’m ashamed of myself. I went home after this, and I would be disappointed in my performance if I hadn’t already been to 13 bars. However, things didn’t end there.
Reactions: They have an amazing patio that would be perfect for day drinking, if only they opened earlier. The white Russian was a wild card, but it was easy to drink.
Stop 14: Japps Since 1879
The scene: This is the place to go for a good, well-crafted cocktail. The dark, old school interior made day drinking seem almost classy.
The drink: A champagne cocktail. Tatiana can’t remember what was in it. But it was pink. And it tasted pink.
Reactions: Awesome place to go after work. Very low-key, but has a speakeasy/boudoir-feel.
Stop 15: Rhinehaus
The scene: This place is like a step above “boring sports bar.” The bartender seemed pretty disturbed that Tatiana had been to 14 bars already, and so they were nice enough to make her drink light on the alcohol.
The drink: An Orange Rhino: Vodka, coconut rum, and an orange drink of some variety. Not very strong, but at this point, Tatiana was stumbling her way through the last two joints.
Reactions: Like the bars at the end of the trip, Milton’s, Neon’s, MOTR, and Japp’s, Rhinehaus is a fantastic post-work hangout.
Stop 16: HalfCut
The scene: This place is all about the craft beer. If you’re set on drinking even more when you’re done day drinking, you can fill up a growler here, too.
The drink: Some “sunshine”-something beer. All anyone remembers is that it was hoppy.
Reactions: None. Tatiana doesn’t exactly remember what happened here very well, other than feeling a deep, satisfying sense of accomplishment.