After six months of sipping my way through downtown, I’ve come to a conclusion and can now dub my favorite local drinking spots. From unbeatable Happy Hour specials to creative cocktails to tantalizing tastings of beer and wine from around the world, these spots have my coming back again and again for all types of beverages, booze, and bubbly.
1. Local Chop & Grill House
Local Chop has quite a few designations under its belt, thanks to the nationally-acclaimed Chef Ryan Zale (see my previous Local Chop post). A focus on local, farm-fresh ingredients means the dining and drink menus change with the season. Zale and the restaurant’s mixologists and bartenders take what’s in season to highlight in menu items, so I love coming back to see what new flavors they’re showcasing. We definitely stand by the Local Hibiscus Margarita, Strawberry Rhubarb Cocktail, and the Spring Sangria, but then again we’ve yet to find a drink here that isn’t over-the-top amazing.
2. Capital Ale House
Nothing can beat a rooftop bar. But a beautiful rooftop bar with a stunning view of Court Square, cozy furnishings and great happy hour specials? Now you’ve really won me over. It’s tough to beat this view, and frequent live music on the rooftop just adds to the restaurant and bar’s charm. And, if you’re a beer fanatic, their extensive lineup of beer on tap (remember this impressive bar?) and beer list the size of a novel are enough to melt your heart.
3. Union Station
Union Station definitely wins the contest for best bar bites prices, and is fighting for the #1 spot for most delicious cocktails. My favorites are Strawberry Starburst and Nutty Ginger (so much so that I’ve already harassed the bartenders about how to make them and tried to recreate my own at home). Plus, with hefty appetizer proportions at the price points of $2-$5, I’m completely swept away every time.
4. Dave’s Downtown Taverna
Did I already mention how much I love drinking outdoors? Especially on rooftops with amazing views? It’s not a surprise that Dave’s Taverna makes this list, because it’s the epitome of my “heavenly happy hour” thanks to the lookout on the Taratsa (rooftop). Like at Capital Ale, Dave’s Taverna gives a unique overlook of Court Square and the Rockingham County Courthouse, and the area’s shaded umbrellas and patio heaters make it a comfortable space to sip on drinks in nearly any weather.
5. Downtown Wine & Gourmet
Downtown Wine & Gourmet is a hidden gem in Harrisonburg. Not only does it serve as a shop providing a diverse selection of wines and beers from around the world, gourmet chocolates, local coffees, and home-brewing supplies, but it also serves up free beer and wine tastings twice a week. On Fridays from 5-7 the shop offers free samples of a carefully-selected array of wines, and Saturdays from 1-4 does the same for beers. It’s the perfect pitstop before grabbing dinner downtown, and it’s always amusing to peruse the store and scour the hard-to-find selection of spirits.