15 Bars In Cincinnati You Need To Check Out

Cincinnati, Ohio, should definitely be on your radar if you're hunting for a lively bar scene. The city's reputation for producing exceptional beer is well-deserved, while its innovative cocktail scene has gained international recognition. Cincinnati manages to effortlessly integrate influences from nearby regions, like Kentucky, while highlighting its remarkable brewing heritage brought to the city by German immigrants.

Cincinnati's historic Over-the-Rhine district has experienced a revival of its own. With substantial investments in infrastructure and a thriving art scene, this district underwent a remarkable transformation. The neighborhood also features the Brewing Heritage Trail, which celebrates Cincinnati's old breweries with a glimpse into the city's rich brewing history.

The city's warmth and hospitality are the best parts of hanging out in Cincinnati's bars and music venues. The locals are renowned for their kindness and friendliness, ensuring every visitor is greeted with a warm smile. Whether exploring for a cozy spot to enjoy a craft cocktail or nostalgically digging for a video game-themed bar, there's something for everyone in this bustling city.

1. The Lackman

The Lackman is a historically significant establishment in Cincinnati. It lies within the iconic Lackman building, built by the famous brewery tycoon Herman Lackman. The bar has kept much of the old charm while embracing modern elements. Upon entering, you'll be mesmerized by the preserved original tile floors and bare brick walls, which are beautifully intertwined with contemporary features. The space is illuminated by handmade chandeliers crafted by local artists, featuring exquisite woodwork and stained glass. Every detail has been carefully considered, from the stainless drip rails to the leather armrests, adding a touch of sophistication.

The Lackman takes immense pride in its impressive list of libations. You'll find an abundance of carefully curated cocktails, wines, and craft beers on the menu. Each cocktail is a masterpiece, meticulously crafted by very knowledgeable bartenders. If you like the classics, the Negroni cocktail at Lackaman's might sweep you off your feet. And don't miss the opportunity to savor the Blanch, a refreshing summer elixir that surpasses all expectations.

It's hard to find a bar so flawless as The Lackman. Whether you visit during the week for the lively happy hour or pop in for the weekend for self-serve mimosas, The Lackman Bar rarely disappoints.

2. Sundry and Vice

Located in Cincinnati's lively Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Sundry and Vice is a vintage-meets-modern cocktail bar on the corner of Republic and 13th streets. The bar's apothecary-themed decor, including antique touches like vintage medicine bottles, will transport you to the pre-prohibition era. And if you prefer the fresh air, the recently added outdoor seating provides a perfect sanctuary.

At Sundry and Vice, staff expertise shines through, and every sip is a memorable experience. Among the must-try creations is the bar's renowned Old-Fashioned, hailed as the best in town by connoisseurs of this classic libation. The attentive team ensures your glass is always full, rounding things up with signature cocktails like The Queen City Fizz or The Garden Collins.

If you're looking for a cozy and comfortable spot, try out the inviting booths that let you fully enjoy the atmosphere. The combination of bar and table seating provides a relaxing way to shift your vibe. And if the crowd seems overwhelming, you can always venture outside.

3. 16-Bit Bar + Arcade

At 16-Bit Bar + Arcade in Cincinnati, the traditional notion of a night out gets a complete overhaul. Snuggled within the Pins Mechanical Co. building, it may be a bit tricky to find. However, once you do, you'll discover a haven of vintage arcade games and vibrant neon lights through the interiors accentuating the retro gaming consoles spanning multiple gaming areas. As you explore the bar, you'll find plenty of room for socializing, competing, and losing yourself in the immersive gaming world.

The menu at 16-Bit features handcrafted concoctions that capture the essence of the gaming world. Well, at least the names are. The fiery Mortal Kombat is a perfect fusion of tequila, mezcal, jalapeño, lime, and agave, while Pac-Man Punch is a tropical paradise captured in a glass. While you indulge in delightful libations, the games are on the house, which is a nice touch. 

The atmosphere at 16-Bit Bar always crackles with energy and nostalgia while the attentive staff takes excellent care of the venue, ensuring that the pinball machines and games are in perfect condition. It's a family-friendly environment, with a fair number of children during the day, so if you prefer a more adult-oriented environment, consider visiting later in the evening. 

4. Rhinegeist Brewery

Indulge in an extraordinary craft beer experience at Rhinegeist Brewery. Housed within a great former factory, this colossal and exquisitely designed space invites everyone that loves the idea of a brewery doubling up as a bar. The rooftop at Rhinegeist offers refreshing breezes and stunning cityscape views, while on the main floor, many engaging activities await: Putt-putt, cornhole, and ping-pong tables offer endless amusement while you savor your drink.

Rhinegeist Brewery boasts an impressive selection of beers that have earned it rave reviews. The Penguin is a must-try for those seeking a lighter take on a stout, while the Gecko, a hazy IPA, has garnered praise from visitors. Although Rhinegeist Brewery doesn't serve its own food, it has found a seamless solution: You can order from a small menu offered by the neighboring restaurant at the bar. The chili cheese fries are excellent, generously portioned, and perfect for sharing.

Finding parking near Rhinegeist Brewery can be a minor challenge. Be sure to plan accordingly to make the most of your time at this highly acclaimed brewery in the heart of Cincinnati.

5. Japps Since 1879

Japp's Since 1879 is a famous bar in Cincinnati with more than a century-long history. Though ownership has changed over time, the spirit of Japp's remains unwavering. Once a wig store, this charming space still exudes the essence of its past. Stepping inside, you'll be greeted by old-world charisma buttoned up with modern finishes. Every corner of this space holds a tale: The walls are lined with dark wood paneling and the lighting is low, casting a gentle glow over the antique mirrors and vintage cocktail shakers.

Japp specializes in pre-prohibition cocktails. It has a carefully-selected menu that captures the essence of classic libations, from the expertly crafted Old Fashioned, which combines bourbon, bitters, and citrus in perfect harmony, to the invigorating Moscow Mule, made with ginger beer and lime juice.

The space fosters conversation and connection, boasting comfortable seating arrangements and encouraging guests to mingle. Whether you desire a peaceful night with a partner or want to enjoy a live music performance, Japp's is the perfect setting to make lasting memories.

6. Taft's Ale House

Tucked away in a renovated church, Taft's Ale House boasts breathtakingly-high ceilings and a captivating interior. The church's conversion into a brewery has beautifully preserved its unique architectural features. Upon entering, you'll be transported back to the early 1900s, with the polished dark wood and the grand chandeliers. The vast bar, resembling a beer altar, is located at the back of the space, connected to gleaming stainless steel tanks above, tempting you to wash away your sins.

Taft's Ale House is the place to be if you're a beer connoisseur. With an impressive rotating selection that caters to the seasons and special occasions, you'll always find something innovative and exciting to try. The pumpkin pie beer and UDF Strawberry Milkshake IPA are just a few illustrations. And while opinions on the food may vary, one thing is sure — the tri-tip sandwiches are a must-try. They are blasting with savory bacon and cheddar and come with a side of superb fries.

Taft's Ale House is an establishment with exceptional service. The staff is highly informed and readily available to propose their newest beer offerings. Additionally, they can provide fascinating insights into the history of Cincinnati. The convenience of on-street parking means it's easily accessible in the lively Over-the-Rhine district, which is a huge plus.

7. The Eagle

The Eagle in Cincinnati is a bar and fried chicken joint that has quickly become a hot spot for locals and visitors alike. Nestled in the vibrant Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, it features a rustic and dark interior trimmed with reclaimed wood and fixtures borrowed from the old post office nearby. If communal seating and buzzing conversations are your vibe, The Eagle is definitely worth checking out.

The menu at The Eagle offers an impressive selection of craft beers and expertly crafted cocktails. Made with only the finest top-shelf ingredients, these libations beautifully enhance your dining experience. The star of the show at The Eagle is undoubtedly the perfect fried chicken, renowned for its irresistible crispy and peppery crust. The chicken undergoes a two-step cooking process, starting with an overnight brine that remains a closely guarded secret, followed by a pressure-fry technique to retain its succulent tenderness. Each bite of this Amish farm-sourced chicken is a delight. While the fried chicken takes center stage, the supporting cast of Southern sides deserves equal applause.

The space at The Eagle is not too large, but it is not cramped either, providing ample room for guests to move around and socialize. The bar area is charming, with a wide selection of drinks and a friendly staff that makes everyone feel welcome. Making a reservation in advance is advisable, as it tends to be bustling with eager diners.

8. Longfellow

Longfellow is a sanctuary that embraces you with open arms. The bar is spellbound by its extraordinary fusion of warmth, history, and sincere hospitality. Nestled at the idyllic crossroads of Clay and 13th streets, it is surrounded by an array of historic landmarks, including the city's oldest Catholic church. Inside, you are greeted by elegant wainscoting, wooden tiled floors, and the stunning bright accents of the rustic bar. Originally named Peacemaker, Longfellow brings together the diverse community of Over-the-Rhine.

While Longfellow continually evolves, the heart and soul of this establishment reside in its exceptional staff. Beyond serving extraordinary cocktails, they take the time to familiarize themselves with your name and introduce you to any new concoctions. The pay-it-forward chalkboards allow patrons to bestow drinks upon one another, fostering a sense of community.

Longfellow in Cincinnati is a delightful bar with quality music and delicious food. With personal touches from owner Mike Stankovich, it's the perfect spot for a casual night out. And once you're there, treat yourself to comforting delights like butter and salt-seasoned radishes, flavorful sandwiches with sliced meats, and a mouthwatering hot dog topped with anchovies.

9. The Overlook Lodge

The Overlook Lodge in Cincinnati is a hidden gem that has the coziness of a mountain lodge. The vintage furnishings, warm colors, and comfy seating invite you to sit back and relax. The dim lighting at the bar provides an intimate setting, perfect for a romantic evening with your date.

The cocktails served at The Overlook Lodge are simply outstanding. If you fancy something refreshing and zesty, try The Shining, a gin-based drink with a twist of lime and grapefruit. It's a fan favorite and a tribute to the iconic horror movie that inspired the bar's theme. If you call yourself more of a traditionalist, the expertly crafted Old Fashioned is a must-try. And don't forget to sample the Ritual, a signature cocktail that blends tequila, yellow chartreuse, lime, and honey syrup.

The Overlook Lodge is more than just a place to grab a drink. The decor, thoughtful drink menu, and friendly and knowledgeable staff all contribute to the welcoming atmosphere. It's an experience that showcases the team's passion and dedication to the tiniest details. You'll feel right at home from your first drink.

10. Queen City Radio

Queen City Radio, located in Cincinnati's Historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, is a popular bar housed in a renovated 1920s gas and car service station. Its industrial charm is prominent from the moment you step inside the spacious patio with the original garage bay doors still intact. The urban backdrop of tall buildings only adds to the bar's charisma, while the streets outside are always bustling with activity.

Queen City Bar is a lively and inclusive space that welcomes everyone, including four-legged friends. Inside, you'll find tastefully vintage-inspired decor: exposed brick walls, wooden beams, and quaint light fixtures. The seating arrangement is cozy, with plush chairs and sofas arranged around low tables — perfect for catching up with friends or enjoying a quiet drink alone. The menu's highlight is the bar's signature Queen's Tea, a delicious blend of gin, black tea, lemon, and peach.

Outside, the fire pits and heaters make it an inviting space to enjoy hot spiked cider, mulled wine, or hot chocolate. There's plenty of stuff to do at Queen City, from Sunday DJ shows to the frequent game and trivia nights. And don't miss out on the menu specials available all day.

11. Tiki Tiki Bang Bang

Tiki Tiki Bang Bang in Cincinnati is a hidden gem behind the infamous video store wall of the former Tarantino-themed Video Archive. Since reopening its doors in Walnut Hills in January 2021, Tiki Tiki Bang Bang has become a permanent tropical paradise for locals and visitors. The bar's swanky interiors, with dim lighting and retro movies playing on repeat, offer a nostalgic trip back in time. The clever use of space, with an inviting bar and wall bench seating, creates intimacy, while tropical decor sets the tone. Tiki Tiki Bang Bang is a cinematic treat with the essence of Tiki culture.

There's an artistry infused into every cocktail at the Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, whether you savor the tropical bliss of The Painkiller or embark on a thrilling Zombie. For a shared experience, the Scorpion Bowl is the way to go. And as an added bonus, your drinks are complemented by thoughtfully curated movies a few nights of the week.

Tiki presents a range of options from the intimate Beachcomber experience, where a private table awaits exclusively for you, to the captivating Golden Idol package, featuring a shareable bottle of rum to enjoy during the show and take home, as well as snacks and souvenir glassware. For a shared experience with your besties, the Scorpion Bowl is the way to go.

12. The Comet

The Comet bar in Cincinnati is a lively haven for the artistic crowd. Dave Cunningham, the owner, has managed to keep the venture thriving despite the challenging pandemic. Inspired by his Irish family's bar industry background and his experience at the Cove Cafe, Cunningham has created a social space that has now evolved into a classic public house with a lovely stage for local music talent.

The Comet is renowned for its oversized San Francisco Mission-style burritos and monthly salsa specials. The signature cocktails, such as The Comet Cocktail, The Old Fashioned, and The Margarita, are expertly crafted, while the rest of the menu has a few exciting add-ons — like the vegetarian jerk tofu tacos with pickled onions.

Unlike other bars, the Comet is a TV-free zone. It's a laid-back and casual space where you can chat with friends or enjoy a game of pool. With occasional live performances from resident bands and open mic nights, it's a common place for the Northside community to come together.

13. The Blind Lemon

Within the busy streets of Cincinnati, you'll find the Blind Lemon, a charming hidden bar that locals refer to as "The Lemon." With a history dating back nearly six decades, Blind Lemon has entertained visitors with its quaint charm. As you walk through the narrow passageway and onto the expansive brick courtyard, the illuminated sign beckons you to enter. The lush foliage and the warm fire pit during the cooler months offer a peaceful escape from the city.

Blind Lemon is famous for its live music performances every night of the week. This lively showcase celebrates Cincinnati's local music scene, and you'll be blown away by the level of talent that graces the stage. Pair your musical experience with one of the handcrafted libations. One standout drink is the Blind Lemonade, a signature blend of vodka, lemonade, and raspberry liqueur. Or, for a unique and refreshing option, venture into The Peach Tea Martini, an exquisite blend of peach vodka, sweet tea, and Lemon. The warm, friendly staff and cozy outdoor space make Blind Lemon the perfect place to unwind.

14. Northside Yacht Club

Right in the heart of Cincinnati lies Northside Yacht Club, a popular bar that rocks with cocktail artistry. The masterminds behind this nautical-inspired establishment are Jon Weiner and Stuart MacKenzie, who have created a hipster harbor with pronounced punk-rock vibes. The interior is spacious and features a stunning polished bar with thick ropes you'd mostly find on the boats hanging off the ceiling. The outdoor patio has plenty of seating, although it's less luxurious than the plush leather couches inside. The concrete walls in the garden feel rather bare, but a beautiful tree adds a touch of charm to the space.

Executive Chef Liv Ardo leads the culinary team, priding themselves on utilizing only the freshest, natural ingredients. The menu features house-smoked meats and hand-cut fries alongside a variety of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Not to be outdone, the seasonal cocktail menu includes locally sourced ingredients and a variety of whiskeys. Enjoy a classic margarita or the Spicy Pineapple Margarita for a sweet and fiery kick.

But Northside Yacht Club is more than just a bar with great food and drinks. It's a music lover's paradise, showcasing a diverse lineup of local and national acts personally curated by club musician Jon. The patio is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry friends along.

15. Arnold's Bar and Grill

Visiting Arnold's is like stepping into a time capsule. In 1861, Simon Arnold established his tavern, now famously known as the oldest bar in the city. For nearly a century, the Arnold family lived upstairs and operated Arnold's, creating a solid legacy that continues to this day under the ownership of Ronda Androski. While primarily a daytime tavern and restaurant, it expanded its offerings in 1976 to include dinner service, introducing downtown's first outdoor dining in decades.

The beautifully crafted interior exudes nostalgia and boasts stunning woodwork. The aroma of whiskey lingers in the air as the famously fine glasses of Old Fashioned are poured. Upstairs, guests can dine beside the bathtub, which was once used for prohibition-era activities. Arnolds' menu is filled with intriguing food options. The Blueberry Chicken and the favorite Yo Mama Burger are standouts. There's something for Vegetarians too. The chilled asparagus with burrata, fig jam, watermelon, and pistachio offers a surprisingly delicious twist.

Thanks to its remarkable history, welcoming atmosphere, and exceptional cuisine, Arnold's has secured a special place in Cincinnati's heart. Whether you're a local or a visitor, Arnold's promises a one-of-a-kind evening.