S&Bar Crawl

The S&B’s Community Editor, Susanne Bushman ’16, sampled beer and cocktails from bars and restaurants around town, asking the bartender for their recommendation. She had to trust their judgment.

Solera

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanI started my journey with a Sunday afternoon trip to Solera with Gabe Lehman ’16. I had intended to start on Monday but Solera, entirely run by its owner, Colleen Klainert, is closed Monday through Wednesday. While I knew going on a Sunday wouldn’t necessarily give Lehman and me the traditional Solera experience, I’m glad we did. As a newly legal drinker, my experience with tasting wine was limited and by avoiding peak hours, we were able to chat with Klainert and absorb some of her vast knowledge about wines while enjoying her recommendations based on our preferences. Solera serves about 100 wines and 40 beers, with a handful available for purchase by the glass.

Based on my preference for sweeter white wine, I had a Precept Wine’s Bloom Riesling which had a crisp apple sweetness while keeping a nice acidity, or so Klainert told me. Solera features a thoughtful setup with both a long bar, high tables and smaller seating areas perfect for more intimate conversations and gatherings. According to Klainert, the bar is busiest on weekend evenings and brings in customers ranging from farmers to CEOs who sit elbow to elbow at the bar. No matter when you go, however, you can be promised a great glass of wine.

Price: $$$
Good For: A relaxing evening with friends or visiting relatives, excellent wine recommendations

Lonnski’s

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanMonday night took me to Lonnski’s Pub and Deli with Stephen Gruber-Miller ’15. The bar and restaurant were quiet with just a few tables and bar stools full, which left bartender Glenys Hunt ’16 time to think over our requests for recommendations and chat about different options.

While many go to Lonnski’s for a Long Island Iced Tea, I received a delicious spin on the classic, the Kansas City Ice Water, which is made with the same alcohols as a Long Island: gin, vodka, rum, triple sec and sour, but substitutes Sprite for the usual coke. The result tastes almost like lemonade but packs a punch.

Stephen, as the official beer drinker on our team, was given a Blonde Fatal made by Peace Tree Brewing out of Knoxville, Iowa, which totes a 8.8 percent alcohol content. As we enjoyed our drinks, Glenys and the other people lining the bar were happy to discuss the bar’s famous tater tots, debate the best pizza in town and offer suggestions for the rest of our crawl. After about 2/3 of our heavy-hitting drinks, Stephen and I were sporting flushed faces and talking playlists with Glenys.  As we left, “Turn Down for What” came on the bars speakers, boding well for the rest of our evening.

Price: $$
Good For: Happy Hour from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. and Angry Hour Wednesday-Saturday 10 p.m.-12 a.m.

John & Gary’s Game Time

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanStephen and I followed up Lonnski’s with a trip to Gary’s Game Time, Grinnell’s primary sports bar. This oft-overlooked option sits across Highway 146 between 3rd and 4th Ave.

A few customers sat at the bar this Monday night and our friendly bartender informed us that if we wanted to have the typical Game Time experience, we had to order a cold mug of Bud Lite and a Clam Digger. A Clam Digger is very similar to a Bloody Mary except it’s made with clamato juice instead. The result is an interesting concoction topped off with two olives and a pickle. As someone who doesn’t care for either clams or tomatoes, the drink was not my cup of tea. The pickle, however, was delicious.

Our bartender assured me, that “It’s really not that bad if you chase it with a beer.” John & Gary’s Game Time features numerous television sets, tuned to the sports preference of the customer and has Happy Hour daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Price: $
Good For: Having a beer and watching baseball, escaping other Grinnell students

Canary Underground

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanAs word got around about my S&Bar Crawl, I found a surprising number of 21-year-olds were down to come with me to Happy Hour at Prairie Canary’s basement bar, recently rebranded the Prairie Underground. Stephen and I were accompanied once again by Gabe Lehman ’16 as well as Jessica Flannery ’15, Sam Curry ’16, Meghan McDermott ’16, Kate Strain ’16 and Marissa Yetter ’16. The sparse bar population upon our arrival was to our benefit, however, as we had the full attention of our bartender, Michael Korte ’15. When asked for a cocktail recommendation, he directed me to the original concoctions of Matt Dole ’16 and his Raspberry Rose. Arriving in a sugar-rimmed glass, the Raspberry Rose provides a light and fruity flavor, that, even combined with the sugar, isn’t too sweet. Gruber-Miller, after the original recommendation of the Old Rasputin beer was thwarted by a troublesome keg, received a Longboard Lager out of Kona, Hawaii which was light and crisp. With great Happy Hour prices we couldn’t end our fun there and were coerced by Kate into taking Strawberry Blowjob shots made of strawberry flavor, tequila and topped with whipped cream, to be taken without the use of your hands — an experience not to be missed.

Price: $$$
Good For: Happy Hour with your friends, Canary-oke every other Friday night

Relish

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanWednesday brought me to Relish with perennially good drinking buddies Kate Strain ’16 and Isabella Alsobrook ’16. The bar and restaurant were just opening up, sure to get busier as the night progressed. Tess Given ’15 was behind the bar and crafted for me a Campari High Ball, made with Campari, Clear Heart (a local vodka), mixed citrus juice made daily in at the bar, St. Germain and honey syrup. The mixture is shaken and served with orange peel and creates a unique mix of flavors—tart from the citrus, sweet from the honey mixed with the unmistakable vodka. I also sampled Madhouse Brewing Company’s rich and smooth Coffee Stout.

The bar looks out on Central Park and Kate, Isabella and I were treated to the view of what appeared to be a 5k being run around the square. Employees assured us that this isn’t usual and on a clear night there’s a stunning view of the sunset. In the spring, flowers decorate the yard and the new outdoor seating makes for a popular place to lounge with a drink. Employees told us that Relish is a prime spot to watch parades for those staying for [iasummer]. During the summer, they also have live music Wednesday nights, which is a great time to visit this local hotspot.

Price: $$
Good For: Blowing off midweek stress at Pub Quiz, hosting social events for your club or group

Lyle’s Pub

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanLocated in the basement of the JRC, Lyle’s Pub has quickly become a staple of campus culture, especially its weekly Pub Quiz, which I attended with a selection of my usual team joining the numerous other creatively-named teams. After signing up my team and selecting our complimentary food, I got pub manager Ben Doehr ’15 to recommend me the Slingshot Dunkel from Backpocket Brewery located in Coralville, Iowa. It proved to be a pleasantly light lager that helped to ease the pain of Sam Curry ’16’s and my dismal performance when abandoned by the rest of our team.

Though only open for events, Lyle’s still manages to be open four to five days a week and can be booked for events by emailing [pub]. Event hosts will find that the space is perfect for many kinds of social gatherings with its chalkboard painted walls, numerous seating areas and selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Price: $$
Good For: Blowing off midweek stress at Pub Quiz, hosting social events for your club or group

Rabbitt’s Tavern

Pub Crawl - Susanne BushmanAfter our failure at Pride Week Pub Quiz, Gabe Lehman ’16 and Meghan McDermott ’16 escorted me to Rabbitt’s to close out the S&Bar Crawl. At 11 p.m. on Wednesday, the bar was still relatively quiet with only a handful of locals drinking and warming up the karaoke machine.

I was recommended a Arctic Apple Twist, made with Lemon Juice, Apple Pucker and Seven. At Rabbitt’s, it comes out lime green, sweet and easy to drink. After being encouraged to take my turn at karaoke by an off-duty Lonnski’s waitress telling me: “You only die once but you live all the time so you might as well live while you can,” I performed a rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” a surprisingly nerve-wracking experience despite the friendly crowd. 

Other students began to roll into the bar around 12:30 a.m. and we were joined by an increasingly rowdy group of [2015]. The karaoke machine got good use and many pitchers of beer were ordered. When we left after 1 a.m. the bar showed no signs of slowing down.

Price: $
Good For: Wednesday night karaoke, rubbing elbows with locals