CLOSE

11 of America’s Most Unusual Spots to Have a Beer

If you’ve never enjoyed a beer inside a cave, at a former train station, or while grocery shopping, well, you just don’t know what you’re missing.

1. FLOSSMOOR STATION RESTAURANT AND BREWERY // FLOSSMOOR, ILLINOIS

Built in 1906, this former train station was headed for ruin before the current owners spruced it up and turned it into an award-winning brewpub. Drink a Station Master Wheat, then watch the 5:15 rumble by mere feet away. With the Metra stop just down the street, it’s a great spot for a last-minute drink before catching a train into Chicago.

2. LUCKY’S MARKET // VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Supermarkets have dutifully followed the craft beer revolution, and some like Whole Foods even have in-store bars where you can grab a pint or fill up a growler. But Lucky’s has upped the ante by encouraging of-age shoppers to enjoy a cold one while they shop. The retailer, which has locations in 11 states, sells the brews for just $2, and has outfitted its shopping carts with cup holders, naturally. Suddenly, shopping for kale just got a whole lot more exciting.

3. SISTER LOUISA’S CHURCH OF THE LIVING ROOM & PING PONG EMPORIUM // ATLANTA

Unusual is certainly one way to describe a bar where patrons regularly don choir robes, sing church-organ karaoke, and play ping-pong on a table surrounded by neon crosses. Opened in 2010 by a former divinity student-turned-artist, Sister Louisa’s is pure southern kitsch, and a favorite amongst Atlanta bar-goers. Craft brews are always on tap, but if beer isn’t your thing, you could always try the Spiritual Sangria.

4. FLORA-BAMA // PERDIDO KEY, FLORIDA

Step out of this Florida beach bar, walk a few feet west, and you’re in Alabama. The establishment opened in 1964, and soon, business was booming, thanks to the fact that Baldwin County, Alabama, was dry at the time. Since then, it’s grown into a sprawling roadhouse with numerous bars and live music stages.

5. THE CAVE BAR & GRILL // LANAGAN, MISSOURI

You won’t find any trendy craft brews on tap here. But true to its name, The Cave offers a one-of-a-kind venue. Owner Chris Black bought the space, formerly known as Truitt’s Cave, in 2011, after he was convinced the world was about to end. When that didn’t happen, he converted the cavern from a bunker into a bar and restaurant with an outdoor area that frequently hosts live music. Adding to the fun: There’s a herd of goats milling around.

6. SAN DIEGO ZOO // SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

One of the world’s premier zoos just so happens to have an incredible beer selection. Locations throughout the park serve up craft brews, from cafes to specialty stands operated by local brewers like Ballast Point and Sierra Nevada. There are also festivals like a recent beer and wine tasting celebrating the zoo’s centennial. Best of all: You can take your beer with you while you tour the park.

7. REVOLUTION CYCLES // GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

In a town with its fair share of bicycle shops, Revolution offers a little something extra: several taps of cold craft beer. Owner Watts Dixon installed the bar area two years ago, keen to capitalize on the overlap between cycling and beer enthusiasts. Even if you’re not in the market for a new road bike or a tune-up, you can wander in for a pint of Oskar Blues or Sierra Nevada.

8. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM // NEW YORK CITY

If the thought of viewing fine art while sipping a beer seems like fun, make sure to book a ticket to one of the Guggenheim Museum’s “Art After Dark” parties. In addition to live music and free-roam of the museum’s numerous exhibitions, the event features world-class people-watching from the Guggenheim’s spiral walkway.

9. O’MALLEY’S PUB // WESTON, MISSOURI

This bunker-like bar, formerly a Prohibition-era speakeasy, pays homage to rural Missouri’s drinking past with a lineup of rustic brews. There’s the Ruddy Wheat, a sturdy ale-meets-weiss concoction, and the Rip Van Winkle, first brewed in the early 1900s, when it was billed as "The Richest Bottle of Beer in the World." Many of the brews come straight from the Weston Brewing Company next door via refrigerated tap lines.

10. UMBRELLA BAR // OLYMPIC VALLEY, CALIFORNIA

From roughly 60 feet underground to high in the mountains: It’s hard to beat the view at this mountaintop bar, perched 8200 feet at the top of the Squaw Valley Resort. With a large hot tub and retractable roof, it’s a popular spot for weary skiers and snowboarders, who can reach the bar from nearby trails. Luckily, there’s also a cable car that provides access for those less inclined to ply the slopes.

11. THE PINE BOX BAR // SEATTLE

This former mortuary did a stint as a nightclub before becoming a craft beer haven—most famously, Bruce Lee passed through the funeral home for his stateside services in 1973. Today, the bar has 30 some beers on tap, a range of dinner and brunch options, and is spending the fall hosting presidential debate watch-parties.

BONUS: CP BREWERY AT BREWS AND CUES // PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII

Drinking a micro-brewed beer is nothing unusual. But drinking a beer micro-brewed on one of America’s most storied military bases? That’s something special. The CP Brewery turns out a limited quantity of ales and IPAs on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor-Hickham military base, and offers them at the Brews and Cues bar located in the base’s common area. There’s just one catch: Access is limited to military personnel and acquaintances.

Original image
Courtesy New District
arrow
Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Original image
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

Original image
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
arrow
Food
A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
Original image
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios