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Best Cincinnati Nightlife

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Cincinnati’s nightlife offers something for every taste and wallet size. Cincinnatians love to go out, and there are loads of options whether you feel like dressing up for a cocktail at a high-end lounge, or keeping it casual at a neighborhood bar. Downtown bustles with after-work, after-theater and after-ball-game crowds. Northside and Over-the-Rhine are other popular Cincinnati after-dark locations.

Righteous Room

Neighborhood: Downtown

A $2 million renovation turned the Phoenix Café into the Righteous Room. This is one of Cincinnati’s newer bars and it’s going gangbusters with its posh, upscale style. The combination of exposed brick, intimate seating and paintings by local artists set a grown-up, sophisticated tone. Put on your cool-person clothes for the theater crowd. Cincinnati’s youngish, in-the-know professionals gather here to enjoy the courtyard after work. The happy hour Monday-Saturday from 4-8PM is one way to snag a special treat, like the mango mojito, before you head to one of Cincinnati’s performance venues. Come back afterward, since there are also after-theater drink deals. Although the Righteous Room fills up on weekends, there’s enough space in this Cincinnati bar for you to still feel comfortable.

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Righteous Room  

FB

Neighborhood: Over-the-Rhine (Gateway quarter)

FB, one of Cincinnati’s newest night clubs, is primarily a cocktail lounge geared toward the over-25, professional crowd. With a loose Alice-in-Wonderland theme, bold patterned wallpaper, an oversize yellow chair—big enough for five or more—and parlor-style furniture in funky colors evoke a Mad Hatter image. The large sketch of the White Rabbit above the stairs leading to the basement dance floor (called “The Rabbit Hole”) is another. The dance floor is only a Friday and Saturday night venture, when DJs spin a mix of hip-hop, reggae, B-more, house and old school. This place buzzes on weekends and has become a favorite for birthday-party groups. Dress casual chic to fit in. There is a wide range of drinks here, and cocktails are a specialty. FB also has a second-floor lounge that takes swank up a notch, but it’s only accessible through reservations.

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FB  

The Bar at the Palm Court

Neighborhood: Downtown

The Bar at Palm Court in the Netherland Hotel is an exquisite choice for an after-theater or post-symphony drink. It’s the crown jewel of Cincinnati, each inch more beautiful than the other. Restored to its 1930s splendor, the ceiling murals evoke French palaces and the art deco nickel-silver light fixtures add exoticism. Although the bar is elegant, the mood is casual and unpretentious, and adults of all ages feel comfortable. The bar offers a light menu of creative appetizers, sandwiches and a few main dishes. The Palm Court is Cincinnati’s number one restaurant and it’s pricey. If you stick to the appetizers, though, you can enjoy top-notch food for considerably less. Specialty cocktails are $10. The wine and beer menu is a good mix of domestic and imports. On Friday and Saturday nights, there’s live jazz. Seriously, this is our favorite place. Go here. Go.

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The Bar at the Palm Court  

Northside Tavern

Neighborhood: Northside

The best local bands in Cincinnati play at Northside Tavern, where the 20- and 30-somethings head for an artsy and casual atmosphere with pool tables, pizza and stellar entertainment. This Cincinnati bar, in a renovated red brick storefront, expanded its music space and P.A. system last year. The music on tap depends on when you come. Stay in the intimate front-room bar or head to the large back room, where local bands take to the stage. The range includes indie, new wave, jazz, blues, folk and acoustic rock. To up the local experience, order a pint of Cincinnati’s Christian Moerlein, a brew with a 150-year history. For those who think karaoke is fun—and it is—Karaoke Fantastic is every Thursday night.

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Northside Tavern  

Arnold's Bar and Grill

Neighborhood: Over-the-Rhine (Gateway quarter)

Arnold’s Bar and Grill, the oldest of Cincinnati’s bars, is where history meets the excitement of a baseball game, an extensive beer list and live music. On Reds game days, sports fans gather for camaraderie. On the weekends, live music—a mix of Western Swing and R&B—draws a crowd of all ages. Before Simon Arnold opened his bar in 1861, the building was a barbershop. During prohibition, it was turned into a café. The second floor still has the bathtub said to be used for making gin. These days Arnold’s is bigger than it used to be after the addition of a former feed store that’s connected by the courtyard where bands play. Also a restaurant, Arnold’s serves American and Italian fare, but the history, the music and the beer are the biggest draws.

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