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An Honest Face: An Evening at Al’s Wine & Whiskey

Al's, a hip chilled out lounge with an indie music selection to match. Now there’s something that goes down easy.

Picture this: your dad’s favorite armchair meets funky New York swank.  It’s that unique hybrid that puts Al’s Wine & Whiskey at the top of our list.  If you’re not feeling up for the crowded Beerfest at Chuck’s or the underage dance party at Maggie’s, Al’s offers a refreshing change from the norm.  A hip chilled out lounge with an indie music selection to match.  Now there’s something that goes down easy.

When to Go:  Our advice is to head to Al’s a little on the later side.  Happy hour is populated mainly by the working set and things don’t start to chill out until around 9 or so.   If you’re down for a low-key night, make Al’s your destination bar.  Barhopping?  Then it makes for the perfect watering hole around 10.  The bottom line:  The perfect combination of pit stop and main event.

On Tap:  500+ varieties of booze from imported liquors to, yes, wine and whiskey.  You can check out the full list hereThe bottom line: Why stop at beer when there are 500 other choices?

Blue Plate Special: The menu tries a little too hard to be chic, with offerings like apple and blue cheese tartlets, but don’t be turned off if that’s not your thing.  We tried the paella and it rocked our world.  The bottom line: Get past the artsy lingo and the food is tasty.

The Scene: The theme here is comfort; the oriental rugs and warm light fixtures will have you feeling at home in no time.  A pool table, dart board, pinball machines, and big-screen TVs are scattered around for extra entertainment.  Our favorite pick?  A neon sign that flashes “Just Bring an Honest Face.”  The bottom line: What’s better than comfy couches and a wall full of liquor?

The Crew: Bartender Jay Dietershagen will meet your every need from panzanella to port with a grin and some good old-fashioned conversation.  You get the feeling that all of the bar staff really love their jobs—we should all be so lucky.  The bottom line: They’re not just in it for the tips.

The Crowd:  Ok, so the goatee-wearing, Starbucks-drinking, poetry-writing hipsters may have found their Mecca—but there are a vibrant mix of people who frequent Al’s.  From young professionals to 50-somethings and everywhere in between, you’re sure to find some cool people to chat with.  The bottom line:  Variety is the spice of life—add some to yours.

The Deets: Al’s is located at 321 S. Clinton Street in Armory Square, that’s right across from the Syracuse Suds Factory for all you brew dogs.   They offer a wide variety of live music throughout the week.  The drinks can get a little pricey—our friend ordered an $8 cosmo—but there are specials and happy hour deals that will make your wallet a little happier.  To see the full booze list, sans prices, click here.   The bottom line: Try it, you’ll like it.

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