Come wintertime, there are more crowded places you could knock back a cold beer than Shooters on the Water. But there may be no place more central to the rebirth of downtown than this summer hotspot on the west bank of the Flats. Perched just up the pier from the aquarium that's slated to open next month, Shooters also offers the city's best view of the transformation taking place across the Cuyahoga, where barren fields soon will be a bustling boardwalk and waterfront hotel. Need another swell reason to go? Shooters is pouring what must be the largest servings of Christmas Ale this side of a John Carroll frat party: Your choice of 12, 22, or — yes! — 32 ounces (for the recession-busting price of $9.25) of Great Lakes' seasonal nectar, a batch that's earning no shortage of raves this year. Settle in at Shooters to hear the ghosts of Flats night life past, and the promise of Cleveland prosperity yet to come. — Erich Burnett
Open through winter Wednesdays through Saturdays at 1148 Main Ave., 216-891-6900.