What They're Having

A court of Cleveland luminaries toast their favorite drinks and drinkeries

Northeast Ohio is awash with great watering holes, so where and what we choose to drink has a way of saying a little something about us. Blue-collar bars, exotic smoothie shops, gingerbread bistros, neighborhood pubs — Cleveland has 'em all. But what's your ideal destination for good atmosphere, fine drink, and fun times? We decided to ask a select group of famous Cleveland folks that very question. What we found is that the glitterati of Northeast Ohio — its TV stars and musicians, its actors and its jocks — love to rub elbows with their fans and friends at bistros and barrooms all over town.

We asked them to raise their glasses, and what followed were these hearty toasts to their most hallowed haunts.

Sam Meister

Drummer for Local Duo Mr. Gnome, Recently Named Rolling Stone's Band to Watch

We constantly travel across this beautiful country of ours and enjoy many cities and people in the United States, but we always love to come back home to Cleveland. One of our favorite watering holes to frequent is the Thermadore Lounge [17406 Grovewood Ave. in Collinwood], down the street from another favorite of ours, the Grovewood Tavern and Wine Bar [17105 Grovewood Ave.].

I like to throw down a few shots of tequila while we're hanging. Nothing fancy, just straight booze. I like to follow that with a glass of tequila, usually on the rocks, followed by approaching complete strangers and asking, "Is this reality?" swaying to and fro. I also enjoy Mexican beer. It's been hitting the sweet spot these days.

Austin Carr

Cavaliers Legend, Fox Sports Ohio Game Analyst, and Director of Community and Business Development for the Cavs

I can't pick just one favorite restaurant, but I enjoy hanging out at Parallax in Tremont [2179 West 11 St.] and Red the Steakhouse on the East Side [3355 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood]. Both have dynamite atmosphere and outstanding service. Small restaurants with good food and specialty dishes really make for a nice evening.

I don't have a favorite signature drink because I don't care much for mixed drinks. Get that weak stuff outta here! My favorite drink is Patrón tequila with a splash of lime. It's a classic, to-the-point drink that goes good with any meal or anytime I'm out and around Cleveland.

Mark Nolan

Channel 3 News Today Anchor and Distinguished Irishman

I thoroughly enjoy the South Side over in Tremont [2207 West 11th St.]. The chicken and waffles are awesome, and the staff is super-friendly. And by that I mean super-cute waitresses.

I'm a vodka and soda guy. The rest of the time, you'll see me with a Rolling Rock. However, as a good Irishman, I'll accept any and all free drinks. Many folks know I lived above Flannery's Pub on 4th Street for years, and an Irishman living above an Irish pub has led to mostly fuzzy memories that begin with, "I'll have a Murphy's Amber" and end with me waking up in bed. I'm sure it's all in the police reports if you want to check it out.

Allan Fee

One Half of The Toohey & FeeMorning Show on CBS Radio's Q104

My first-ever beer in Cleveland was a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold at Hoopples near the Flats [1930 Columbus Rd.]. It's an authentic bar with a really cool view of the city skyline. Since my first drink there, I have gone on to celebrate four birthdays at Hoopples, attended clam bakes, Christmas parties, many Glenn Schwartz performances [the former James Gang guitarist], and good times with friends. Norm Plonsky runs the place and keeps it true to its roots. Herb is the best bartender in the city and gives the place class. Barbie gives the place a little swagger.

Staying true to my Irish roots, I enjoy a good Irish Car Bomb there on the really festive nights. It's one of the best-kept secrets in Cleveland, so don't tell anybody about it.

Brandt Evans

TV Personality, Chef, and Owner of Pura Vida Restaurant on Public Square

My favorite drinking destination would be Marcelita's in Hudson [7774 Darrow Rd.]. The restaurant has been around since the late '70s and is certainly known for great Mexican food, but the warm and friendly atmosphere is the big draw for me. I love chatting with owner Kevin Killeen and the great bartenders.

Yes, they have Margaritas and an extensive list of tequilas, but for me, there's nothing better than Tanqueray on the rocks with a splash of tonic. My wife and I enjoy the live entertainment too. We live in Hudson, and it's important to us to support our local businesses.

Greg Mauldin

Star Forward and Alternate Captain for the Lake Erie Monsters

I like going to the Barley House downtown [1261 West 6th St.] because I enjoy the scene. On Sundays it's nice when the Browns play and it's packed, but then sometimes later in the evening it's a nice, chill bar. A few of my teammates and I like being the only people in there. We have also gotten to know the owners and some of the people that work there, so it makes it like Cheers — where everybody knows your name. For the most part, I like a nice Gin & Tonic there, but I'm also a fan of Bud Light.

Dan Coughlin

Cleveland Sports Writer for 45 years and Author of Books Like Pass the Nuts

My list of favorite bars is longer than LeBron James' mean streak, but my home bar for the past 35 years has been Herb's Tavern [19925 Detroit Rd. in Rocky River]. It is the archetype of the neighborhood tavern. The bar is favored by my children and other relatives, neighbors, old friends, classmates, sportsmen, and other artisans. Barbershop quartets hit a few chords every Tuesday night after they rehearse in a nearby church cellar. I love the barbershop guys. At Sunday-night karaoke, the singing is usually atrocious, but it does provide comic asides.

Herb's has the usual selection of ordinary beers. My preference is Miller Lite, although I'll enjoy a Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold.

Manny Acta

Manager of the Cleveland Indians

I love the Pelican Kiss at Johnny Mango [3120 Bridge Ave. in Cleveland]. It's a non-alcoholic drink, but a wonderful combination of cranberry and orange juices with ginger. Overall, I really enjoy the atmosphere of Johnny Mango and the diverse menu. I have a sweet tooth, so I like any kind of juice or sugary drink. I usually go on off days or when we have day games. It is just so open, casual, and festive in there. I always find it's a great place to unwind, and I'm a huge fan of the Pad Thai and the velvet chicken quesadillas.

Danita Harris

Nightly Anchor for Newschannel 5

I absolutely love going to Phil the Fire in Beachwood [located in the Fairfield Inn, 3750 Orange Place]. I enjoy it because they have great soul food that reminds me of the meals my grandmother would cook for me. It's like being back home eating a delicious meal at my grandmother's kitchen table. My favorite beverage is their Southern Sweet Tea. It's always perfect and tastes great with the fried catfish dinner, another one of my favorites.

Jonathon Sawyer

Nationally Renowned Chef and

Owner of the Greenhouse Tavern

My favorite drinking destination would be La Cave Du Vin [2785 Euclid Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights]. Hence the name, they definitely take pride in their extensive wine collection, but beer is no afterthought. They carry some of the rarest and most exciting brews in the state. Choosing from the craft beer cooler is a must, but I also enjoy sipping a great bottle of wine with owner Erich Lasher from time to time. This place has an awesome selection and a unique and comfortable atmosphere. My favorite drink overall would have to be the J.L. Chave Hermitage [which is exquisite French wine].

Nicole Barille

Singer and Guitarist for the Ferocious Indie Rock Duo Mr. Gnome

I had a very interesting night with a drink properly named "Pussy Poppin on a Handstand." This drink consists of Hi-C and orange-flavored vodka. While this is not my favorite drink, I did have what can only be described as a wicked one-night stand with this beast. I will never have another one, but if you make it to the Thermadore Lounge in Collinwood [17406 Grovewood Ave.], just minutes from the Beachland Ballroom, you've got to try this magical elixir to see if your pussy isn't popping on a handstand.

Be warned: Side effects may include blacking out, sitting in the corner, staring at the wall, mumbling incoherent sentences, and/or puking on your arm on the car ride home.

Charles Kartali

Prominent Northeast Ohio Stage Actor and Teacher at Case Western Reserve University

I thoroughly enjoy Le Bistro du Beaujolais in Olmsted Falls, owned and run by Georges and Claudie d'Arras. They used to be in Westlake, but now they reside in an 1830ish remodeled country house [at 8134] Columbia Rd.

I usually enjoy any wine that Georges chooses. He's a master at picking a wine to go with your meal. A true French bistro, they cellar only French wines. A favorite of mine is a certain Pineau [a regional French aperitif] that Georges gets in from time to time, but its name escapes me. They also tolerate me when I butcher the French language with the seven words I learned from a class I took my freshman year of high school.

Greg Miller

Frontman for the Awesome Punk

Country Act Whiskey Daredevils

I'm a beer guy when I go out for a drink. This is a fast rule of thumb, because if I get into hard liquor, there is the distinct possibility I will do something stupid like join the Coast Guard or try to drive a bulldozer. I like going to a bar with multiple options of big hoppy beers like Green Flash, Dark Horse, Founders, Bell's, and of course, Great Lakes.

The Tremont Tap House [2572 Scranton Rd. in Tremont] has an ever-changing list of great beer and is not located near any horrible, soul-crushing strip plazas. They play good stuff on the sound system, and I'm not just saying that because they will play Whiskey Daredevils records when the moon is in the right phase.

Dr. E

Cleveland's Soul Queen and the Groove Physician Behind LPs like 2010's Elevated

One of my favorite spots is the Harvard Wine & Grille [14201 Harvard Ave. in Cleveland]. I love it because I like to listen to Russell Thompson play his saxophone, and the waitresses are my homegirls who hook up my cranberry and orange juice with a splash of ginger ale. They have the best grilled chicken salads on the East Side. You can't beat that: a smooth drink and a smooth saxophonist — very fitting for Cleveland's own jazzy soul queen.

My favorite West Side bar is the Savannah Bar & Grille [30676 Detroit Rd. in Westlake]. I love the diversity of people who love the dance floor. My spirits get lifted with the sounds of different rhythm and blues bands that play there. The Savannah never lets me down.

Kory Ontheradio

Photographer, Theater Critic, and

Night DJ at CBS Radio's Q104

I live on the Gold Coast in Lakewood, and my two favorite spots are right next door to each other and a short walk from my apartment. For food, you can't go wrong with the Diner on Clifton [11637 Clifton Blvd.]. For cocktails, the diner's neighbor, Twist Social Club, is the spot [11633 Clifton Blvd.]. It's a gay/straight/whatever upscale neighborhood bar — the kind of place where the bartenders know your name and your drink — combined with a drama-free atmosphere.

I'll usually grab a Bloody Mary from bartender Heidi or just go with my favorite: a bottle of Stella Artois. After that, I kick back with my friends or my date and enjoy the evening. Dates can happen at bars. Don't judge.

Stanley Howse

aka Flesh-n-Bone, Grammy Winning Member of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

When I'm in Cleveland, I like to kick it at a little-known place called Lido Lounge [it's a strip club at 3029 West 117th St.]. It's been around for years, and I love the vibe I feel when I'm there. Entertainment looks sweet, the music's good, and I most often enjoy visiting with friends over a Red Bull. I also have Sandy, my favorite barmaid and owner, concoct me one of my non-alcoholic specialties — a little Sprite, cranberry, lime, and grenadine. Touring is rigorous and traveling can be hectic, so I prefer to stay focused and comfortable with a libation that can't cause a hangover.

Mark Zinni

Local Television Personality and

Anchor of Fox 8 News' Weekend Mornings

I'm a big fan of Pier W in Lakewood [12700 Lake Ave.] because it's one of a few local spots where you can actually see our beautiful lake. They also have an incredible happy hour every day of the week — even on Sunday afternoons. Cheers!

My usual drink of choice is a Black Russian, but I'm also a dark beer drinker — nothing light in calories or color. After a day of chasing news in Northeast Ohio, I usually enjoy a fine wine, but anything from a corner drugstore will do.

Stefani Schaefer

Anchor, Reporter, and Local Notable at Fox 8 News

One of my favorite places to dine with the family is Wasabi Steakhouse on the East Side [3725 Orange Place in Beachwood]. We love sushi and enjoy sitting around the hibachi table with family and friends. For a quieter, intimate setting, they have two small private Tatomi rooms. My kids think it's so neat to take off our shoes before entering and be in our own little room.

I love their Hana Awaka sparkling sake. My kids love their Japanese sodas. When it comes to wine, I typically enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah Blend.

Elisa Amigo

Fox 8 TV Reporter and Seasoned Cleveland Foodie

My favorite restaurant and bar would be Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar in the Eton shopping district [28601 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere]. It has a great atmosphere, amazing happy-hour deals, fun Latin music, and homemade guacamole. It all makes you want to get up and dance — especially after a few Mojitos.

My favorite beverage is a pomegranate-ginger Mojito. It's served with a sugar-cane stick. My favorite drink overall is a mixture of 44 North Mountain Huckleberry Flavored Vodka mixed with lemonade. It must be served in a mason jar. Throw in some fresh blueberries, and you're good to go. My compliments to [Fox 8 anchor] Bill Martin — he came up with this wonderful concoction.

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