Friday Jeff and I met up with the Downtown Cincinnati Happy Hour Club at Passage for a few drinks. Being that I work so far away, it always bums me out that so many happy hour's are from 5-7 or earlier, since I can't even get home and sit down before 6:00 these days. So, I was so pleased to hear that Passage's happy hour is until 8:00pm. Perfect.
I was a little skeptical going there because of a few comments I heard from friends who attended their opening weekend, and a little apprehensive because the rumor mill made the place out to be a maze of doorways posing as picture frames and secret bricks that open up into the bathroom. This posed two issues for me: 1. What if I couldn't find let alone get into the bathroom, and 2. Though it sounded like a cool concept, I could have gotten lost in a maze of hallways and never made it back out onto 6th street.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when Jeff and I walked into a large, open room, with side seating and a huge, centrally located bar with stools all the way around. The bathroom door is a picture frame and there is a secret entrance to a gated VIP area, but over all I did not feel like I was going to get lost. Relief. In addition, I have to say that Passage is certainly a contender for one of the best Happy Hours downtown. $3 house wines, $2.50 domestics, $3 off premium cocktails AND $3calls and their well vodka is Smirnoff?? Being a vodka/tonic gal my thought was "Heck yes". (Many places downtown use Kamchatka so I was pleasantly surprised). I think Passage is a great addition to the downtown bar scene and I will definitely go back. Especially for happy hour.
Immediately after Passage Jeff and I decided to stroll into Bartini's and check it out before their Grand Opening this Thursday. They hosted a soft opening all weekend, so for the early evening they had the left side which included the dance floor and second and third bars (Yes, they have three bars and I'm thrilled because they are all able to accommodate large numbers with minimal wait) closed until later in the night while the right side containing high bar tables, booths, and bar remained open the whole time. I really wanted to check out the left side, and it just so happened they were giving mini tours. The space is used very well. It's huge. With everything from lounge areas, to a dance floor, to bar seating, to tables, and booths and an outside seating area. Bartini's appears to have it all going on-- something for everyone.
The decor was awesome. Black and white pictures all over the walls that were pretty rocker-esk. I took a bunch of pictures but somehow they were magically deleted by the morning (sad) Guess that means you'll have to check it out yourself!-- and when you do, check out the picture at the front right corner behind some tables in a little nook, its was one of my favorites. The staff was very accommodating, drinks were made well, and the crowd was a good mix of folks. Over all, a great first experience.
Just to be sure, I went back again the next night with my dear friend Lora- Lora doesn't get out as much, living outside of the city, so she was interested in checking out some of the new places in the area. You don't really get more new than the weekend before a grand opening. Lora should really be writing this part of the review but I think I can do an adequate job since she was raving about it well into Sunday evening. We enjoyed a few drinks and decided it would only be a full experience if we sampled a martini. So, we asked our bartender to recommend her favorite two: the Berry Bartini, made with Stoli raspberry, Stoli blueberry, Pama Pomegranate liqueur, and strawberry puree, topped off with a skewer of fresh blueberries. It was out of this world good. Definitely Lora's and my favorite. The second was the Bartini Bellini which had grey goose, peach Schnapps, orange juice and champagne. This one was good too, but the Berry Bartini was the winner here. In addition to their drink menu, tapas, flat breads, and more will be served.
Amy from Cincy Chic did a great guest blog for Wine Me Dine Me complete with pictures and the menu. Check it out for more information about Bartini's and be sure to check out their Grand Opening this Thursday! I know I'll be there!