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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 12:01 am

BEST LOCAL BARS AND NIGHTLIFE

BEST BLOODY MARY
JP Kelly’s
300 E. Adams St., 753-7933

What goes into making a good Bloody Mary? JP Kelly’s likes to leave that up to the customer, which is surely one of the reasons they scored high marks in this category with our voters. A wide variety of choices are offered to Bloody Mary enthusiasts, which they are invited to check off on a card containing an extensive list – all to make sure the bartender doesn’t overlook any preferred garnishes. The wide variety of garnish options helps set them apart from the Bloody Mary crowd – everything is here from pickled asparagus to cheese to shrimp to hot sauce. At JP Kelly’s, your Bloody Mary is what you make of it. And that’s bloody well all right with our voters.  
Runners-up: Boones Saloon, Julia’s Kitchen and Lounge

BEST PLACE FOR A MARGARITA
Casa Real
301 N. Grand Ave W., 528-8825

It makes sense that this popular Mexican restaurant, on the edge of the medical district, would have a well-regarded margarita, and our voters have borne that out. One satisfied customer – who went as far as posting a photo of their margarita on the restaurant’s Facebook page – proclaimed it to be “amazing,” while another testimonial stated “usually they are too sour for me, but this one was just this side of sour and definitely NOT too sweet either: just right.”     
Runners-up: Xochimilco, La Fiesta

BEST PLACE FOR VIDEO GAMING
Westwoods Lodge, Pub and Grill
2406 W. Jefferson St., 698-9256

“Get your game on!” When patrons of Westwoods use the establishment’s signature phrase, they might be talking about the menu, which regularly includes wild-game items bison, elk, venison, alligator and duck. But our voters chose Westwoods as Best Place for Video Gaming. So one could conceivably have their fill of game-based food offerings, take a few short steps over to the Colorado Room where the games are kept, and belly up to appropriately named video gambling machines (example: “Wild Life” replete with roaring lion image). Get your game on, indeed!
Runners-up: Lucy’s Place, Blue Grouch Pub

BEST SPORTS BAR
Brickhouse
217 S. Fifth St., 679-1500; 3136 W. Iles Ave., 546-2745

According to Merriam-Webster online, a sports bar is defined as “a bar that has televisions for watching sports and is decorated with sports items.” Fair enough. The décor at the two locations of Brickhouse is a little more varied than this might imply, but there are few cozier places to catch a sporting event while downing some suds and/or appetizers. From the Super Bowl to the Women’s World Cup, our voters know that the sightlines, selection and general atmosphere are close to ideal for socializing and keeping up with the score.
Runners-up: Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger Bar

BEST CRAFT BEER SELECTION
BEST BEER GARDEN
BEST OVERALL BAR

Obed and Isaac’s
500 S. Sixth St., 670-0627

Obed’s has become such an established part of Springfield nightlife it can be a shock to realize that it only opened its doors in 2012. I mean, where did we used to go before that? This year O & I is IT voters’ clear choice of the place to go for drinks in downtown Springfield, with three wins this year including Best Overall Bar. Just one part of Conn’s Hospitality Group’s empire of impressive local establishments, the microbrew pub also received the lion’s share of votes for its unique selection of craft beers, all brewed onsite, including the ever-popular Ditzy Blonde, along with multiple IPA selections for the hops enthusiast in your drinking circle. When warmer climes are afoot, Obed’s spacious, dog-friendly beer garden is our voters’ choice for outdoor drinking, offering plenty of room to stretch out along with a chance to sharpen up your bocce ball game.
Runners-up Best Overall Bar: The Curve Inn, Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
Runners-up Best Bar for Craft Beer Selection: Craft Beer Bar, Engrained Brewery
Runners-up Best Beer Garden: The Curve Inn, Boone’s Saloon


BEST BAR FOR CHEAP DRINKS
BEST BARTENDER
BEST DIVE BAR
FAVORITE SPECIALTY DRINK

The Curve Inn
3219 S. Sixth St., 529-5806

The Curve Inn really cleaned up this year with wins in (count ’em!) four categories. The longstanding watering hole has been operational since 1932, and took on the Curve name back in 1945. Things have calmed down somewhat since the days when, as thecurveinn.com boasts, it acted as a nexus of post-war Springfield’s “prostitution and illegal gambling.” Present-day IT voters have chosen to celebrate the Curve for its self-proclaimed dive status – perhaps helped along by its spacious, enclosed beer garden where smoking bans do not apply – with a separate win for its very affordable drink prices. Curve bartender Wendy Reising herself came in for double honors – both as Best Bartender and for Favorite Specialty Drink courtesy of her self-explanatory “Bacardi Party.”
Runners-up Best Bar for Cheap Drinks: Blue Grouch Pub, Brewhaus
Runners-up Best Bartender: Crystal at Burger Bar, Bobby Bednarko at Blue Grouch Pub
Runners-up Best Dive Bar: Butternut Hut, Blue Grouch Pub
Runners-up Favorite Specialty Drink: “Fred” by Keith Voegele at Brewhaus, “Rootballs” by Daymon Jaeggi at Always After 5

JP Kelly’s
PHOTO BY PATRICK YEAGLE

 



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