Friday, October 03, 2008

The Single Girl's Bible for Cincinnati

Fuck Forbes Magazine.

Yes, I dropped the F bomb, and no I'm not apologizing (well, except to my parents' friends who drop in from time to time ~ sorry for the foul language, folks).

I try to reserve my crusty vernacular for the most critical of situations, and I think this matter warrants such an expletive.

The financial magazine has had it out for the Queen City for years ~ giving Cincinnati low ranks were the Single Scene is concerned. In 2004, Forbes said, "This is not a place for love. I mean, how romantic can a city be when the lobby of its fanciest hotel, The Cincinnatian, features a large, multicolored sculpture of a pig in a tuxedo called 'Don Pigiovanni?'"

Apparently the writer was not familiar with our passion for anything porcine. This same writer lambasted our city because he was disappointed Eden Park and the Cincinnati Art Museum were empty (save for a few older folks) at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.

Sorry, dude, we were all taking care of business at the office - generally contributing to society and trying to keep the economy afloat. My bad!

Cincinnati scored an embarrassing 39 out of 40 in that ranking four years ago. Since then, Forbes has reassessed our burg and has bumped us up to a slightly better 33.

Well, thanks.

Our score improved thanks to our high marks in affordability (#4 in the nation for the cost of living alone) and solid culture endeavours (#23 out of 40). We did not perform as well in regards to coolness and nightlife (#35 and #34, respectively).

All of these numbers and categories can be disheartening for any singleton whether you live in Cincinnati or get the pleasure of visiting Losantiville for business.

You may be asking yourself, Why the rant on Forbes, all of a sudden, Kate?

Well, I guess it comes after enjoying several solo years in Cincinnati.

That's why I've decided to come up with a "bible" of sorts for folks who are swimming in our city's sea of singleness. First, I'll tackle the nightlife. From there, I'll cover restaurants, unique date opportunities, and other great places to meet singles.

Please feel free to make your own suggestions or contribute links in the comment field!

Every single person I know has a thriving social life. Some of them like clubby party scenes, and others like low key evenings in quiet coffee houses. Whatever your mood - there are plenty of places to pick your poison.

Cincinnati's social destinations tend to congregate in a few key neighborhoods, including Over-the-Rhine, Downtown Cincinnati, Mt. Adams, Mt. Lookout, Hyde Park, Oakley, Northside, Newport and Covington. No doubt about it, I am talking in broad strokes now (I know there are plenty of neighborhood bars on the West Side, the East Side and in between), but those neighborhoods tend to be the hottest destinations inside the I-275 loop.

Here's a list of some of my favorite spots.

The Comet - No need to dress here. The bar always features some stellar brews on tap, but if you can't find something you like on draught, head to the case and peruse dozens of interesting microbrews and imports. Bring your appetite and toe-tappin' shoes - this bar is known for its spectacular burritos (including homemade salsas and special flavors-of-the-month) and live music.

If you want to explore the neighborhood a little more, drive back down the hill and check out Northside Tavern. Newly expanded, the hipster scene is alive and well at this establishment. More great bands here, and you can also enjoy a lovely, expansive patio.

Also in Northside - The Gypsy Hut. Another bastion for hipsters, you can enjoy a massive patio, a DJ spinning house music, ping pong and an eclectic crowd in one place.

Mt. Adams
In another day in time, I was happy to soak up the clubby scene at Pavilion. Now that I'm getting up in age, the Wine Cellar and the Blind Lemon are more my speed. Pavilion offers several levels of patios - most with spectacular views of the river and the skyline - as well as different music venues. Friday and Saturday nights showcase a band, a hip hop DJ and a house DJ all at one time. If you want to press your flesh against a stranger, this is one of the best places to go.

Longworths is another great place for younger single types. Sure, I'll bet there are a few 30-somethings who lurk around the bar, but I've always sensed it was more of a 20-something place. Sometimes you get live music on the first floor, sometimes you get dance music on the second floor. I always get a Magic Hat when I'm there, regardless of the floor.

If you care more about alcohol and less about music, you should probably give Crowley's a try. This bar is just down the street from Pavilion and has more of an Irish Pub vibe going on. My previously mentioned favorites, the Wine Cellar and the Blind Lemon, both feature live music (Wine Cellar - low key bands, Blind Lemon - acoustic guitar) and a more cozy, low-key atmosphere.

Downtown Cincinnati
You don't have to go to a cheesy country bar to ride a mechanical bull. Just visit Cadillac Ranch on 6th Street. The crowd there is a mix of YP and Gen Y - it's a great place to go after work or after a Bengals Game.

The most sophisticated bar in town would have to be Bang. No, it's not a club for NRA members, it's a venue that belies its Cincinnati roots - teasing of traits seen in Vegas, New York and L.A. Should you choose to stop by Bang for a shot of Petron, you will no doubt hear a remix of MIA's Paper Planes.

Singles looking to graduate from Bang to something a bit more low key usually end up across the street at Twist. This watering hole is anything but rough around the edges. Velvet ropes outside the door tease you into thinking you're at someplace special - and don't misunderstand me, you are - but you're also at a bar where anyone's welcome. Especially if you have the jack. Special note - martini drinkers should try the Deliciously Dirrty - it's like a Bloody Mary without the tomato juice.

I am not even going to justify the naysayers and talk about how safe OtR is. If you're a pussy, then don't come, because I don't want to have to give up my seat to you. Kaldi's is one of my favorite places in the Greater Cincinnati area, and yet I don't visit it nearly as much as I should. I love the Bloody Marys there and I also like their righteous selection of Cincinnati brews. This is another one of those places where its perfectly alright to come in your dirty, dirty jeans and hoodie, or the outfit you wore out the night before (and have yet to make a Walk of Shame in).

Mr. Pitiful's is another great place - an old timey bar that hints at a scene in a much bigger city. I like the subtle elegance of the decor and the superb service, which includes mixologists who are mindful of inquiring whether a single girl feels comfortable walking to her car alone.

If you are looking for live music and sophisticated ambiance, head over to Below Zero Lounge. This bar is not only a favorite for vodka connoisseurs, it's a great place to hear live music and meet an eclectic group of people.

Other honorable mentions around town:
Hofbrauhaus, Teller's and Beluga.

Next up... restaurants.


LMJ said...

Great post Katy! Some news places I'd like to check out for sure. :)

Denae said...

Some people (said Forbes writer) are just rude when it comes to the Midwest. Even more people in Oregon than London have said to me: Ohio? That's so MIDWEST - as if the area breeds some type of flesh eating disease... I'd love to invite the nay-sayers to live in Cincy for a bit...try on a Bengals game day (in a good season) and take in the top seat of a Reds game overlooking the river. Oh how I LOVE the Blind Lemon but Pavillion has one of the nicest views from the Ohio side..head to the top deck for sure.

Barry Floore said...

I love this. Hrm. You've inspired me. I'm going to start working on one for gay kids.

How was your weekend darling? I didn't end up going to see cute bartender boy. :-( I tried to flirt with a drunken 25 year old instead at another bar. It didn't work out. I spent the evening awake and cocktailed by myself until 7am.

Somedays I love my life. Somedays I wonder just how much of loser I can be LOL!!! :-)

Much love to you.