Ohio Cocktail Tour

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Take a little trip, take a little trip, take a little trip with meeee! To Ohio

I absolutely love to travel and discover new amazing bars and passionate bartenders out there pushing or industry forward. In this blog you will discover or re-discover some amazing people and venues doing some interesting things in OHIO.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting some incredible bars on the up & up in Columbus & Cleveland Ohio. Ohio is kicking some cocktail ASS! Big Up!

I met some really hungry bartenders, bar managers and bar owners on this trip all thirsty for knowledge and ready to take their neck of the woods to the next level. One thing I did take notice, one common thread is that all the bartenders were bartenders first. They all were very thirsty for knowledge and most that I spoke with understood that hospitality and being a good bartender comes first and is the most important. I really appreciate that way of thinking as its the rule of thumb I have lived by in my career. All the education on cocktails & spirits in the world cannot help you be a head up bartender creating experiences and building relationships with your guests on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Don’t get me wrong education is extremely important but your foundation is even more important in my opinion. Its like the fundamentals in athletics if you don’t have the fundamentals down you will never grow to be the best you can be. The combination of them both now that is a force to be recon with!

 Columbus Bars:


Denmark on highDenmark on HIgh: Gary White holding down the fort & kicking some serious cocktail ass behind a bar that isn’t outfitted for some of the stuff he is producing back there. I was blown away! It goes to show that the passion for producing next level cocktails is huge in this bar as they are overcoming some design flaws and are doing it 4 deep on Fridays & Saturdays! Nice Work! Thanks for the guest shift!!!!





Grass skirt 1The Grass Skirt Tiki Bar: This is a beautifully built little tiki bar outfitted by some local talent. The drinks are very approachable and not to overbearing as some tiki cocktails can be. I spoke with the individual who designed the menu and his goal was to create a menu in which all walks of life would enjoy. You will see some tiki classics as well as some originals on the menu in which have been reformulated to be enjoyed by their guest’s pallet.



Side Bar 122Sidebar 122: We had dinner and cocktails in this gem of venue! The food was tapas style but not small plates by any stretch and very delicious! The bartenders were extremely hospitable and created some nice cocktail pairings. I had a variation of a Dr Funk and it was Damn good!




moutonMouton: I felt like I stepped into a hip cocktail bar in Brooklyn. I loved this place! Craft cocktails by Logan Demmy & his crew paired with music spinning off a record player. A truly ANAOLG experience! Logan has been crafting this bar from scratch into what it is and it may be small but it packs an incredible experience! Must See!




odd fellowsOdd Fellows: A classic saloon looking bar with interesting knick knackery everywhere your eyes could see. The highlight was the Boulevardier Slushies for sure! Spot on not to sweet and truly delicious! Also from what I understand the pizza is something to write home about although I didn’t get a chance to experience it. Next time its all about the dope Slushie & Pizza combo!


 Cleveland Bars


crop barCrop Bistro & Bar: Located in the heart of Cleveland’s historic district Crop is in my opinion a true definition of when the kitchen and the bar come together under one roof to create greatness. The food is fun approachable Modern American cuisine but incredibly smart and extremely interesting. The restaurant was built inside an old bank built in the late 1800’s with a 3 story high ceiling and equally impressive old school architecture of the time. The bar sits at one end of this enormously beautiful restaurant under an original painting created in 1925. The bar is gorgeous, the cocktails are spot on and the staff is impressively educated and eager. The bar program is run by Mr Ryan Wilkins an individual who you could tell has the bug and is sharing all he learns with his crew. I had a wonderful experience!


Wonder Bar 2Wonder Bar: A primarily Whiskey, Craft Cocktail & Craft beer bar locally owned located on 4th street in Cleveland will conjure up a truly local Cleveland experience for you. The staff is on point and those in charge are constantly educating and sharing knowledge with their staff to curate & craft a great experience each and every time.




Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 1.46.53 PMPorco Lounge & Tiki Room: I fell in love with this bar! This was my second visit and again had one of the most hospitable experiences to date. Shannon the bar manager and head bartender is a force to be recon with back there! This bar was built on the foundation of fun, comfort, good vibes, unpretentiousness and incredibly well crafted cocktails. I feel like they take what they do very serious but they don’t take them selves very serious. I love that! Each time I have been to Porco it is full of industry people as well as their regular guests which in my opinion is the win win situation. Porco is somewhat of an industry public house and is the definition of “it trickles down from the owners”.

The Owners of Porco in Cleveland Say, “We built this bar for the people, the community and our bartenders. We want people to feel comfortable here. We also hang out here on our off days because we are very proud of what we built.


VTR 1The Velvet Tango Room: I was finally able to experience the infamous and historic Velvet Tango Room of Cleveland. I was also lucky enough to be there when the owner Paulius Nasvytis was in the house. I had heard through the cocktail grapevine about this incredible bar that kick started the craft cocktail movement in Cleveland, Ohio and was so stocked to finally experience it for myself. I ordered a Rum Old fashioned from rock star bartender Mr Rob Bell and fully immersed myself in the experience. Paulius gave me a tour and some history of the place and took the time to explain his inspirations for the venue. Paulius is the true essence of hospitality and created his bar to exudes just that! When you spend time at the Velvet Tango Room you leave saying to yourself that was an incredible experience. From the lighting, to the decor, to the piano playing, to the staff and the cocktails all work in unison to create something special for each guest and every moment. Not to mention if your lucky like I was Paulius will break out his Bananas Foster equipment and from scratch & table side to boot will build and make bananas foster for you a la minute. Quite the experience to say the least!


Big Love OHIO!

Catch you on the rebound!

Willy Shine