BY PETER DORFMAN
Bloomington may be a college town, but the city’s more mature culture is exemplified by the proliferation of adult-oriented drinking establishments.
Logan Hunter recently opened Alchemy on North Walnut in the former Princess Theatre. “The concept is an upscale-but-approachable establishment with an adult atmosphere,” Hunter says. He even provides a quasi-serious behavior code, a 10 Commandments for guests, to help keep the ambiance sophisticated and the atmosphere grownup.
As for libations, adult tastes in liquor are following the craft trend in food and beer. “It used to be all about speed—simple drinks with a lot of sugar and artificial stuff,” says Nick Matio, bar manager at C3. “Now adults want properly made items with fresh ingredients.”
Looking for a watering hole away from the just-turned-21 crowd? Here are some of Bloomington’s finest.
Logan Hunter was explicitly going for a New York City vibe when he designed Alchemy (206 N. Walnut). The newly renovated, split-level space features wood and stained glass, and it’s built for people-watching. The bar features pre-Prohibition classic cocktails, modified to take advantage of the better whiskies and gins available today.
Craft cocktails are the focus at C3 (1505 S. Piazza Drive). This bar and restaurant has a contemporary aesthetic. Cocktails incorporate fresh ingredients, some using liquor infusions made and barrel-aged in-house. Live jazz is featured once a week.
The Crazy Horse Food & Drink Emporium (214 W. Kirkwood) offers drink specials every day of the week, and half-priced bottles of wine twice a week. The bar carries 80 beers and 120 varieties of whisky. The Crazy Horse is banking on its smoker to draw a crowd—smoked pork belly, pulled pork, and grilled wings are new attractions.
Malibu Grill (106 N. Walnut) One of Bloomington’s most popular restaurants for locals, students, and visitors, the bar has for many years been a place where businesspeople gather when the work day is done. Dimly lit and with a Chicago or New York City vibe, it is also the town’s only piano bar with nightly performances Wednesday through Friday.
The Players Pub (424 S. Walnut) has long been one of Bloomington’s premier live music venues, booking diverse acts that generally appeal to a mature audience. The no-frills bar supports local brewers by offering Bloomington beers on tap.
The Uptown Cafe’s 50-seat bar (102 E. Kirkwood) aims for an urbane Chicago feel, with exposed brick and a classic cherry and mahogany bar. Restaurateur Michael Cassady’s collection of paintings by former Bloomington artist Wayne Manns are prominently displayed and have become part of The Uptown’s brand.
Other notable grownup watering holes include:
Alley Bar (210 W. Kirkwood), a proudly un-chic, no-nonsense beer and cocktail bar just west of the downtown Square.
FARMbloomington (108 E. Kirkwood)—the main floor bar specializes in bourbons and bourbon cocktails for a predominately adult crowd.
The Office Lounge & Liquor Store, (3900 E. 3rd St.), a bustling old-school bar and restaurant featuring carryout sales.
The Roost (514 E. Kirkwood), formerly Finch’s Brasserie, The Roost features big-city craft cocktails in a long bar adjacent to the restaurant.