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Three iconic hotel bars that aren’t just for tourists. There is something intrinsically sophisticated about going to a ritzy hotel for a drink. Often complete with ornate fixtures, angular modern furniture, and that glass bowl of green granny smith apples no one ever seems to eat, stopping into a hotel bar for a nightcap after dinner [...]
Danny Hamen

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Three iconic hotel bars that aren’t just for tourists.

There is something intrinsically sophisticated about going to a ritzy hotel for a drink.

Often complete with ornate fixtures, angular modern furniture, and that glass bowl of green granny smith apples no one ever seems to eat, stopping into a hotel bar for a nightcap after dinner is about as representative of a romantic bygone era as pressing flowers into a handwritten thank you card.

But why is this? Getting boozy at a boujee hotel is a staple of the big-city zeitgeist.

Just because you’re not able to afford to stay at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy its over-the-top offerings. It makes sense that some people might feel out of place waltzing into a upscale hotel they have no intention of sleeping in, but the entire purpose of a hotel is to show off the best the city has to offer, whether it be through extravagant decour, an outstanding beverage service, or a friendly, inviting staff (who, chances are, are unable to discern you from a hotel guest or a rando off the street).

While there are dozens of amazing hotels around Columbus that offer up an unforgettable, iconic atmosphere with delectable cocktails, we chose the three that we feel are the best in the business (and also because if we went to more than three in one month’s time we would wind up in the poorhouse. Journalist wages, ya know?)

The Keep Liquor Bar

The Leveque Tower | 50 W Broad St.

The Hotel

Erected in 1927, the Leveque Tower is arguably Columbus’s most iconic skyscraper. With a towering 47 stories, late Art Deco style architecture, and a wonderfully colorful glowing top, it’s every bit as Columbus as Buckeye football. But for decades, this architectural treasure has lain dormant, until top-to-bottom renovations made way for a boutique hotel and a new restaurant and cocktail bar, giving us a reason to step inside the historic landmark outside of sheer curiosity.

The Bar

With French-style cuisine, a cozy, dimly-lit atmosphere, and acclaimed chef Jonathan Olson in the kitchen, it’s no wonder why The Keep has found so much success in its first year. But we came for the drinks, so what better way to start the night than with the titular cocktail, the Leveque 75? A mix of Watershed Bourbon barrel gin, lemon, simple syrup, and cava makes for a fancy twist on a simple gimlet. Like most top notch cocktails, getting the ice just right is instrumental. If you are looking for another spin on a classic, go for the Old Fashioned, where they infuse their ice balls with bitters, or the Rat Pack Hooch, where they infuse blood orange rind and crystallized ginger inside the ice, topped with cognac and Jim Beam Black. Once you are properly buzzed, we recommended making your way to the top of the parking garage where you can find one of the best views the city has to offer.

thekeepcolumbus.com

Soul At The Joseph

Le Meridien | 620 N High St.

The Hotel

It’s extremely fitting this boutique hotel is set in the heart of the Short North Arts District considering that it doubles as an art gallery, borrowing a wide variety of prints and paintings from the Pizzuti Collection. Walking in, you are greeted by a series of circular pop art prints that line a grand stairwell leading to a mezzanine that looks over the mid-century modern inspired lobby.

The Bar

The bar is found on the ground floor, boasting a geometric patterned flooring, a marble slab bartop, and angular wooden fixtures. Add in a retro-inspired neon sign and you get a crisp, clean, yet old school vibe—a setting that seems suitable for Don Draper and his entourage.

But what shines most at Soul is their inspired cocktail program. Considering a good chunk of their clientele is out-of-towners, they are adamant about offering local flavors. At the forefront of this ideology is The Neighborly Love: a mixture of OYO Pumpernickel Ryle from Middle West, Watershed Four Peel Gin, tiki bitters, and bonal, topped with a floral garnish from a local topiary and a stick of Ohio honey—a final touch that is meant to offset the bitterness of the drink. While slightly gimmicky, the honey stick does its job surprisingly well, giving the cocktail a bit of balance without overpowering the mix of gin and whiskey, a combination we had no idea that we even wanted to exist until we took our first sip.

lemeridiencolumbus.com

The Whiskey Bar & Grill

The Westin Great Southern Columbus | 310 S High St.

The Hotel

Originally built in 1897 and once known as “The Great Southern Hotel,” the Westin blends history with modernity seamlessly with vaulted ceilings, silk greenery ornamenting the walls, and a central panel forming a magnificent dome in the lobby.  If you are looking for a true Overlook Hotel experience, take your glass of bourbon to The Grand Ballroom—an intensely large space with a series of seven stained glass panels that decorate the tops of the walls, each representing a menu of what would be served on the specific day. Fun fact: when the Great Southern was uninhabited for a brief period of time in the 80s, one of the stained glass menus was stolen and sold. Over a decade later, after the restoration process, the missing piece to the collection was found over 50 miles away and returned to its proper home.

The Bar

The Whiskey Room is a brand new concept out of the Westin, replacing Thurber’s Bar and Grill just last month, though there are fortunately still a series of prints by legendary cartoonist James Thurber left hanging on the wall. As you can imagine, The Whiskey room offers a wide selection of bourbons and whiskeys from around the world, from a $10 to a $200 pour and beyond. But our bartender, Aaron Andrews, had another cocktail in mind—a spin on the dirty martini, which in our opinion, is the perfect pairing for such a grandiose atmosphere. Dubbed the Holy Toledo, his creation starts with the typical base of gin and vodka, replacing the vermouth with Tony Packo’s pickle juice and a splash of jalapeno juice, creating an delightful explosion of pickled flavors. After a brief chat about the history of the hotel and his love for The Shining, Andrews took us to the Grand Ballroom to show us why his love for cocktails and classic horror meshed together for a perfect career. westincolumbus.com

westincolumbus.com

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Food & Drink

Italian Lebanese hybrid restaurant coming to German Village

Regina Fox

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What do you get when you cross Italian food with Lebanese fare? Bistrolino.

The new hybrid restaurant will take over the spot formerly occupied by Harvest Pizzeria at 495 S 4th St. in German Village. A December open date is expected.

Columbus Business First reports Bistrolino is owned by Samer Chedid and Francesco Todisco, who worked together at Aladdin's Eatery. As immigrants, Chedid will bring is Lebanon roots to the concept, while Todisco will contribute his Italian influence.

Todisco told Columbus Business First the menu will be small, offering single-serving baking dishes including zucchini parmesan, braciola, and a Lebanese flatbread called man'oushe.

Keep an eye on Bistrolino's Facebook for updates.

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Food & Drink

Taft’s on Draft: Cinci Brewporium opens first Columbus location in Franklinton

Linda Lee Baird

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After hearing all the hype about Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Over the Rhine neighborhood a few years back, I went to see it for myself. The first stop was Taft’s Ale House, a gigantic brewery inside of a church originally built in 1850, fully renovated for guests’ reveling pleasure. After spending the next few hours sampling beverages and snacking on beer cheese pretzels, I was inclined to believe the neighborhood hype. Did I fully explore OTR that night? I don’t actually remember. But I’m certain that I had a great time at Taft’s. So when I found out that Taft’s was coming to Columbus, the news sounded even sweeter than their Maverick Chocolate Porter.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus spans nearly 6,000 square feet in the Gravity development, including over 2,000 square feet of patio space. Like the development itself, Taft’s is building an artistic theme into its new offering. “Our actual design is going to be kind of focused on ‘80s/‘90s pop art,” said David Kassling, Managing Partner for Taft’s Brewing Company. “Being that Franklinton definitely has its art roots, we think that’s a great way to ingrain ourself in the community.”

Kassling said that the word brewpourium literally means the place where the brew is poured. That they’ve chosen to make “brewpourium” part of their name tells you everything you need to know about what Taft’s wants to be known for: its carefully crafted suds. The brewpourium will have at least 10 taps serving Taft’s original varieties, including its signature Gavel Banger IPA, which was voted best beer in Cincinnati last March by the city’s residents.

Taft’s will offer a full food menu as well. Kassling is particularly proud to introduce New Haven-style pizza to Columbus. “We’re recreating a style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ohio,” he said. (The style is also known as apizza, which is pronounced "a piece," as in, I’d like a piece of that crisp coal-red cheesy goodness right now, please.) Kassling describes it as a cross between New York and Neapolitan style. Taft’s version features our and tomatoes imported from Italy.

Rounding out the menu is another ‘90s-inspired treat, this time in dessert form. Remember Dunkaroos, those cookies that came in a package with icing designed for dipping, perhaps consumed while you watched episodes of Saved By the Bell? Taft’s will serve up Taftaroos, its unique take on the snack.

Kassling plans to use the brewpourium’s large space to offer patrons activities beyond food and drink. The stage will be open for games of darts when not in use for performances. On the floor, guests will find shufflepuck and Killer Queen, an arcade game utilizing 8-bit graphics in line with the old-school theme. Video game fans will also find gaming stations inlaid in the bar, with several retro options to choose from.

With three Cincinnati locations in operation, Kassling is not new to the business. Even so, expanding to Columbus marks a milestone, and one he wasn’t always seeking to meet. “We didn’t necessarily look at this as we needed to expand to a new city or we needed to expand to Columbus,” he said.

But when the opportunity to join the Gravity Project presented itself, Kassling said it proved too good to pass up. “We’re really excited, not only because of the nature of the building being so modern and unique, not just to Columbus, but to anywhere. But also the shape of our space is funky, and that led to different ideas in what we wanted to do with our build out.”

Kassling acknowledged that in coming to Columbus, Taft’s is joining a few of our communities: the community of Franklinton, to be sure, but also the well-established community of independent breweries operating across the city. An installation built into Taft’s countertop will pay homage to this fact, incorporating crushed cans and packaging from breweries like Seventh Son, Land-Grant, and North High. “It’s gonna be totally an art piece,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the potentially competitive aspect of the brewing scene, Kassling emphasized the camaraderie and common goals within the industry. “At the end of the day, craft beer is a great way to bring people together,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all preaching community and good times.”

While Taft’s new location may not be in a church, Kassling’s words are the type of preaching that I can get behind.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus is located at 440 W Broad St. in the Gravity project. For more details about Taft’s, visit taftsalehouse.com.

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Food & Drink

New “relaxed” wine house now open in Dublin

614now Staff

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Next time you're in Dublin, make sure to stop and smell the rosé at the city's newest wine bar. Coast Wine House recently opened at 75 S High St., offering a contemporary wine bar + bottle shop inspired by a blend of the spirit of coastal California and traditional wine country cafés, markets, and bodegas, according to the website.

Coast assures they don't take themselves too seriously "in contrast to the conventional wine world," describes the website.

"The mood is decidedly relaxed. The wine is pleasantly chilled," Coast says.

The wine bar is run by Dustin Snow, who his wife, Molly, believes brings a "warm and relaxed" feel to Coast.

"A visit to our house is by no means fancy, but Dustin makes it special, because he genuinely wants to make you feel at home," she wrote on Instagram. "And since Coast is an extension of our home you will have this same warm and relaxed experience."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2r1Q5OgbAT/

Coast is open Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm- 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 10pm, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more visit coastwinehouse.com.

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