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Central Arkansas Bar Guide

Our guide to the drinking life.

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FOUR QUARTER: The Argenta bar serves liquor and food until the wee hours, and has music, too. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • FOUR QUARTER: The Argenta bar serves liquor and food until the wee hours, and has music, too.

Dive, watering hole, saloon, tavern, speakeasy, roadhouse, pub, ultralounge or plain ol' bar — however you say it, there's a good chance you've spent a memorable evening or two at a fine purveyor of liquid courage. Bars are spaces unlike any other, existing not for the sustenance of our bodies or the sale of material goods, but only for recreation, relaxation and the unique sensation caused by fermentation, that holy, microscopic intercourse of sugar and yeast that turns wheat, fruit, grapes, hops or barley into alcohol and questionable decisions. They say America was planned in a bar, the Founding Fathers diving deep enough into their cups that they came up with liberty in their teeth. If so, it's fitting. We're a nation that loves a drink, our dalliance with Prohibition and longer affair with Baptist teetotalling notwithstanding.

What follows is our survey of many of the bars, pubs and taverns in Central Arkansas, resulting from the Arkansas Times staff doing the hard work of boozing it up on the company dime during work hours. We made that sacrifice for you, Dear Reader. From the dimmest dive to the swankiest lounge, if you're into public drinking in service of a good time, there's something here for you.

109 & Co It's been several years, but some of our friends still haven't gotten the memo: 109 & Co., on the first block of Main Street and formerly known as Maduro, isn't a cigar bar anymore. It's a comfy, nonsmoking lounge with a broad list of classic cocktails. (Bonus points: It's right around the corner from Arkansas Times HQ.) If you like mezcal like we like mezcal, try the El Cantante ($11), made with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, D'Aristi and Damiana liqueurs, fresh lime juice and Angostura orange bitters, and served neat in a martini glass. 109 Main St., 374-3710, 109andcompany.com.

610 Center Hospitality is the watchword at this downtown spot — and that's not only because it's a bar with a predominately LGBTQ patronage that extends an attitude of inclusiveness to all. The first time you go, you're likely to leave knowing at least one of the owners by name; the second time you go, chances are good one of the tremendously handsome bartenders will remember exactly what you ordered the first time. Monday night is trivia night (friendly, not cutthroat), smoking is allowed, and the full menu offers hearty snacks, like the Mac & Cheese Bites. A wide wine selection, too. 610 Center St., 374-4678, 610center.com.

Baja Grill Opened in May 2014, Baja Grill is a fave for those looking to take a day trip to Jimmy Buffett's favorite place. It features big house margaritas and 10 different specialty versions of the beachy drink, all available either frozen or on the rocks. They're especially a steal during Baja Grill's Margarita Mondays special, with house margaritas setting you back only 4 bucks (!) all day, while specialty margaritas are $2 off. Five beers on tap and tons of cans and bottles for those who aren't into that frozen concoction that helps you hang on. 5923 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock, 722-8920, eatbajagrill.com

Bar Louie Tucked in the corner of a shopping center, Bar Louie is adorned with big-screen TVs and serves plenty of martinis. The go-to is the Diva — 10 bucks normally, but bumped down to $5.25 during happy hours 4-7 p.m. weekdays. It's made of SKYY Pineapple, PAMA liqueur and a pomegranate syrup and topped with fresh cut pineapple. 11525 Cantrell Road, 228-0444, barlouie.com.

Bear's Den Pizza Fondly nicknamed the "Dirty Den," Bear's Den Pizza sits across the street from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Server Chynna Stipe says, sure, they get their fair share of college students, "but also UCA professors, parents visiting the school and Conway residents. We have a ton of regulars." Stipe says the recent of arrival of Flyway Brewery's Bluewing Berry Wheat has been a smash hit and, predictably, happy hour prices — well drinks for $2 and domestic beers for $1 from 9-11 p.m. nightly — lure in budget-constrained collegians. Favorite drink: The "Bear Bomb," a potent mix of R&R Canadian Whiskey, peach schnapps and Red Bull. 235 Farris Road, Conway, 328-5556, bearsdenpizza.net.

Big Orange You surely know all about the food at this burger-and-fry stalwart, but don't sleep on Big O's bar program. In addition to keeping a diverse and always changing lineup of beers on tap, the cocktail crews at the Midtowne and Promenade locations are always whipping up inventive and delicious creations. The latest specialty, created by bartenders Jacob Jones and Luiggi Uzcategui, is called Devil's Advocate and features Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum, Lunazul Blanco Tequila, Madeira fortified wine, Creme de Cacao, pineapple and lemon juice, Angostura bitters and Copper & Kings Absinthe. Naturally, it comes in a tiki mug with an umbrella. Try it during happy hour from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and during reverse happy hour from 9 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. 307 N. University Ave., Suite 100, 379-8715; 17809 Chenal Parkway, 821-1515. bigorangeburgers.com.

Big Whiskey's The signature drink here is the Big Coconut: Parrot Bay rum, Cathead Vodka, pineapple, orange and cranberry juice. That'll cost you $7.50, just short of those Eight Pieces, as the parrot says. But beer is more popular. Get a buck off draft beers and $2 off well drinks and wine between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. 225 E. Markham St., 324-2449, www.bigwhiskeyslittlerock.com.

Boulevard Bistro A casual, comfortable, family-oriented spot with an excellent menu, Boulevard Bistro has a full bar. There are eight beers on tap, with several local craft brews represented, and wine in pretty much every variety your vino-loving heart could desire, as well as specialty drinks. 1920 N. Grant St., Little Rock, 663-5949.

Brewster's 2 Out front, Brewster's 2 cafe lauds its catfish — as it should— but the drinks are a lure, too. In a family-friendly atmosphere, you can cool off with a Heat Wave — grenadine, gin, vodka and tequila — for $8. On the nonalcoholic side, the frozen lemonades are just about as refreshing as a drink can be. 2725 S. Arch St., 301-7728.

Bruno's Little Italy This Italian eatery's home in the Creative Corridor may be new, but the mostaccioli and the merriment within can be traced back to the early 20th century arrival of Giovanni Bruno on American shores. Thanks, Old Country! The grandson who carries his namesake, known to most as Gio, is carrying the torch, and directed us to bartender Jeff Jackson for a tour of the family business' booze offerings. Jackson notes that the handcrafted methods in the kitchen extend to the bar, too — Bruno's offers a house-made limoncello, which you can enjoy chilled in a brandy snifter after dinner ($6) or in one of the restaurant's popular warm weather drinks, the lemon drop martini ($10). There's Peroni beer, of course ($5.69), and an Italian margarita, a mixture of tequila, amaretto, triple sec and house-made sweet and sour syrup. For sweltering summer days, there are peach and strawberry Bellinis, a blend of fruit puree and Prosecco. 310 Main St., No. 101, 372-7866, brunoslittleitaly.com.

Buffalo Wild Wings You know the drill: Wangs! Zillions of TVs tuned to all the sports contests! Booze! You will perhaps be unsurprised to learn that Buffalo Wild Wings, at least at the Cantrell Road location (there are BWWs in Bryant and Sherwood, too) sells more domestic beer than anything else, but it's got cocktails, too. They include the Buffalo Zoo ('cuz it's wild!) made with rum, vodka, bourbon, peach schnapps and orange and pineapple juice. 14800 Cantrell Road, 868-5279, buffalowildwings.com.

By the Glass The vinous-oriented can choose from between 60 to 70 wines on the By the Glass board. Favorites change by season; in summer, New Zealand sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs are favorites. The tapas, such as the smoked salmon appetizer, pair well with any wine, proprietor Susan Crosby says, and all the wines are good: "If it's on our board, we like it." 5713 Kavanaugh Blvd., 663-9463, btgbar.com.

Cache Restaurant and Lounge Robby Wellborn, one of the first employees at the high-class watering hole Cache, has spent half his life as a bartender, working from Texas to Florida, where he's seen it all and done half of it. Still, Wellborn was momentarily stumped when a woman came in just after the restaurant opened and told the tale of a spicy/sweet version of the ubiquitous margarita she'd had while on vacation. "I don't know if it was in Mexico, but it was definitely [at] a salsa bar. I was like, 'I've got all that here.' I put it together." Thus the Cache-exclusive cocktail that has come to be known as The Roberita was born. Featuring top-shelf tequila, fresh jalapenos and juice, minced cilantro, fresh-squeezed lime juice, house-made simple syrup and other primo ingredients, word of mouth has transformed the unique drink from a one-off experiment to a sort of secret menu item that Wellborn can whip up on demand. For those who don't mind a little heat, it could easily become addictive, the bite of the jalapeno marrying perfectly with the tart lime, the earthy cilantro, the tequila burn and the sweet base to produce a drink that's muy caliente. 425 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, 850-0265, cachelittlerock.com.

Capital Bar & Grill Since it reopened in 2007 after the Capital Hotel's $24 million renovation, the Capital Bar has been the standard by which other cocktail bars in Central Arkansas are measured. Head bartender Tim Stramel has been on staff since just before the relaunch. The bar's philosophy is straightforward, Stramel says: "We try to do the classics. We always use fresh juice and premium spirits and try to do 'em right." The Debutante (vodka, St-Germain, lime juice, grapefruit bitters and basil) and the Seersucker (CBG's spin on the Sazerac), have been among the bar's best sellers for years, but Stramel reports that on an average weekend night, nearly every table will have at least one brass mug carrying a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice) or one of the CBG's many variations. When the weather is nice, take your drink to the hotel's veranda and watch the downtown revelers go by. The state's finest jazz trio, the Ted Ludwig Trio, plays from 7-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It's also hard to go wrong with food here. 111 W. Markham St., 370-7013, capitalbarandgrill.com.

Cajun's Served in a large mason jar you can keep (with the Cajun's logo etched into it), Cajun's Play De Do is a twist on New Orleans' Hurricane. There's light rum, dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine for only $8.50 with an orange and lime wedge to boot. If you go weekdays during happy hour (4:30-7 p.m.) you can knock a dollar off the price. 2400 Cantrell Road, 375-5351, cajunswharf.com.

Cañon Grill This Kavanaugh mainstay's been serving up standard Mexican fare in Hillcrest since 1998: cold beer and margaritas. It's got Dos Equis and Flyway Brewery's Bluewing Berry Wheat on tap, as well as the usual domestic suspects. For something with a higher ABV, there's the classic lime margarita or a blue margarita, which manager Krista Belote calls "a little less tart, but a lot stronger," or the Margarita Meltdown, a classic lime with a shot of raspberry, melon, peach, amaretto or orange liqueur poured on top. Happy hour lasts all day Saturday and Sunday. 2811 Kavanaugh Blvd., 664-2068, canongrill.net.

Club Sway Club Sway owner/operator Jason Wiest didn't hesitate when asked what the most popular drink at this vibrant downtown drag mecca was. "Red Bull and vodka, far and away," he said. After all, you'll need the energy; Sway's bombastic monthly parties and drag shows are high-energy affairs, and that Red Bull may well be what keeps you shaking your ass on Sway's multi-tiered dance floor far into the night. If energy drinks aren't your style, try the "Sway Me" ($8), which Wiest says is "kind of our answer when people say, 'Make me something fruity!' " Or try the bright green "Liquid Marijuana," a dizzying blend of Midori, spiced rum, blue curacao and pineapple juice. If you make it to Sway on Saturday's Latin nights, you can pick up a creamy shot of Rum Chata, a spiced rum liqueur that's well on its way to becoming the new Fireball. 412 S. Louisiana St., 777-5428, clubsway.com.

Copper Grill A rosé sangria on Copper Grill's spacious patio, camped out in the sort of luxurious patio furniture your rich friends have out by their pool, on the outskirts of the River Market district? We'll take it. Or if the sun is still blazing, Copper has comfy chairs and a sleek bar inside, too. Plus, a wine list that's gotten acclaim from Wine Spectator. 300 E. Third St., 375-3333, coppergrilllr.com

Ciao Baci A casual fine dining restaurant in a converted Craftsman-style house in Hillcrest, Ciao Baci's wraparound porch is one of the finest places to drink a cocktail in the summer months. Grab a Naughty Lemonade and some tasty bar snacks on a Wednesday, when it's happy hour all day. Excellent wine list, too. 605 Beechwood St., 603-0238, ciaobaci.org.

Core Public House Core brews its own up in Springdale, so that's what this little storefront bar in Argenta — with its ping pong table and foosball table and low-light, old-fashioned ambiance — serves. Most popular beer: Arkansas Red Ale. The hard cider is a good seller, too. FYI: The walls are hung with art by members of the Latino Art Project. 411 Main St., NLR, 372-1390, @corepubargenta.

Crazee's Cafe On Cantrell since 1997, Crazee's is another of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it places that have cultivated a loyal clientele as a quiet spot to catch a meal with a drink after a long workday. It has a full bar, but mostly serves wine and suds, with four brews on tap. The regulars keep coming back to what owner Linda Houff calls "the kind of place where everybody blends in." Her motto: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 7626 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, 221-9696.

Cregeen's For the heat of summer, the Irish pub is going South Seas with the Bikini Bottom: a layered beer with Ace pineapple cider on the bottom and Guinness up top. No coddin'! 301 Main St., 376-7468, cregeens.com.

Crush Wine Bar On a hot Friday night, the proprietor of this friendly, low-lit little hole in the wall will offer you a "cold glass of Argenta's best tap water," help you select a wine from his broad menu and suggest the best tapas to go with. There is great variety in labels and prices; you might enjoy a glass of Cline Old Vines Zinfandel from California or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a reasonable $7 or order a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet for $120. The back garden, planted in grape vines, will set the mood. 318 N. Main St., NLR, 374-9463, @crushwinelr.

Damgoode River Market Try one of the local mini-pizza empire's three Damgoode Brews staples — Red Ribbon Golden Ale, Arkansas Amber and Damgoode Pale Ale — along with a rotation of specials at the River Market brewpub (and the other Damgoode locations). The deck is highly coveted during concerts at the First Security Amphitheatre. 500 President Clinton Ave., 664-2239, damgoodepies.

Del Frisco's Grille This national chain can seat 30 at its bar and there are "quite a few regulars," bartender Shannon Newcomb says. Those who imbibe split between beer and booze; a favorite of the latter is the VIP, which is a vodka infused [with] pineapple martini. Here's the recipe: Cut up a gold pineapple and soak in Clementine vodka for 14 days, strain through cheesecloth, serve. "I tell people it is dangerously delicious," Newcomb says. Showoffs can order an ounce and a half of Macallan 25 single malt whiskey for $155. Promenade at Chenal, 448-2631, delfriscosgrille.com.

Discovery Little Rock's legendary, 40-plus-year-old LGBT club — known affectionately as simply "Disco" — has trended toward an inclusive "alternative club" clientele in recent years, with drink specials, dancing and drag shows in three big rooms in a cavernous warehouse space in Riverdale. With one of the city's vanishingly rare 5 a.m. club permits, it's great for drinking with friends until the dawn's early light. 1021 Jessie Road, Little Rock, 664-4784, latenightdisco.com.

Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro One of the friendliest restaurants in the River Market district, Dizzy's has quirky decor and carefully constructed dishes that pair well with their equally quirky slate of signature cocktails: For example, limoncello martinis, basil and orange mojitos, and a drink called the "Big Menage a Trois Chill," made with red wine, blueberries and Bing cherries. Two dozen beers, a 30-label slate of owner Darla Huie's favorite wines (available by the bottle or glass), plus a small selection of sherries and ports mean there's something for anyone in the mood to drink. There's covered street-side dining for people-watching, too. 200 River Market Ave., 375-3500, dizzysgypsybistro.net.

Dugan's Pub Part of the area's three-leaf clover of Irish bars — along with Cregeen's and Hibernia — Dugan's understandably sells a lot of Guinness and Jameson's, but is no slouch on the craft beer, wine and mixed-drink front. Try its Irish Mule, an Emerald Isle take on the more familiar Moscow variety, with Irish whiskey instead of vodka. The people-watching at Third and Rock ain't bad, either, and the large street-corner patio is dog friendly, so you can get sloshed with your best friend. 401 E. Third St., 244-0542, duganspublr.com.

A LITTLE ROCK CLASSIC: The Play-De-Do at Cajun's Wharf. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • A LITTLE ROCK CLASSIC: The Play-De-Do at Cajun's Wharf.

Electric Cowboy Electric Cowboy sounds like a fantasy invented by a middle-school boy, but it's real. It's open until about 5 a.m. Beer can be pretty cheap: It's usually between $1 and $2, depending on the night's special. The main thing is to know what to do after you've had a few: dance, dance, dance. 9515 I-30, 562-6000, electriccowboy.com/littlerock.

Envy Nightclub The name changed several years back, but the nightclub formerly known as Elevations maintained a longtime formula: big dance floor, Saturday night "sexy dress" contests and hours that stretch to the early morning. 7200 Col. Glenn Road, 569-9113, @envy.littlerock

Ernie Biggs Sing along to songs you know with people from near and far. 327 President Clinton Ave., 372-4782, erniebiggs.com.

The Faded Rose I asked a guy at The Faded Rose bar about how long he'd been drinking there and he laughed a bit. "I've been a regular so long I can't remember," he said. This isn't the type of bar where you come for a specialty drink; it's for folks who know what they want and trust the longtime bartenders to make it right. It's also a place where it won't be long before it's your regular haunt: "You can become a regular after two visits," said Jay Jennings, an editor at Oxford American magazine who was helping a reporter get to know the place. Jennings used to come here with Charles Portis, the legendary writer based in Little Rock, and chat about mostly anything but writing. He pointed out an Englishman's towel behind the bar that a patron used to stretch out as if he were in a pub. On the bar are two small gold plaques to commemorate where two former regulars used to sit (you'd get up if you saw them coming). There are $7-$8 drinks, like rye whiskey (for the "refined palate," the manager told me) and a good wine selection. During happy hour on Monday, most folks were drinking bottled domestics for about $3. 1619 Rebsamen Park Road, 663-9734, thefadedrose.com

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium The River Market's longest wall o' beer boasts 75 beers on tap and around 150 more brews in bottles, general manager Jason Davenport told us. We asked him if there was anything on tap that might be hard to find elsewhere. "That's probably half the wall," he answered. He should know, too — Davenport's been working there for nine years, enough time to have accrued three wall saucers with his name on them, designating that he's tasted over 600 beers there as part of the Emporium's "UFO Club." So what are people drinking this summer? "A lot of people are drinking seasonally, so that means wheat beers, Berliner Weisses, Gose." The chain, with locations in Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and the Carolinas, has been in Little Rock since 1998. 323 President Clinton Ave., 372-8032, beerknurd.com.

Flyway Brewing This popular North Little Rock brewery and tasting room does all sorts of styles right, but it's increasingly known for its Bluewing Berry Wheat, an American wheat with blueberries added after fermentation. Since Flyway introduced it as a seasonal, it's been far and away the brewery's biggest seller. Now it's being canned and widely distributed in Central Arkansas. 314 Maple St., NLR, 812-3192, flywaybrewing.com

The Fold Botanas & Bar The bar at The Fold is meant to conjure up a relaxing day on a Caribbean beach: Sun, sand, blue ocean, bay scallops and a watermelon mojito or a strawberry-infused margarita. Another cocktail tips its hat to international waters: The Francophone, which is a combination of cucumber sake, gin, lime juice and agave, served in a glass gift-wrapped in the funny papers and garnished with a flower and a lime. That's not all! The Fold also has a drink named after a bartender's three-legged dog: The Three Paws Tippin. The TPT — vodka, lemon juice, agave and Aperol — is served in a tulip glass and topped with gummy bears. "We try not to take ourselves too seriously," bartender Rob Armstrong says. There are beers on tap here, of course, including local brews, "but we're a tequila/mezcal bar at heart," Armstrong said. 3501 Old Cantrell Road, 916-9706, thefoldlr.com

Four Quarter Bar The still newish Argenta watering hole hits all the right notes, with an understated but classic decor, scads of local beers on tap (plus Pabst and other commercial faves), shuffleboard, dominos, a copper-topped bar that looks like it's been there since Hector was a pup and a cozy patio out back that seats 25. Four Quarter has become a fixture of the Argenta live music scene, with an eclectic mix of bands appearing Thursday through Saturday nights. Bar manager Jimmy Young said the place is also a favorite for those seeking late-night eats, with both booze and food served until last call at 1:30 a.m. 415 Main St., North Little Rock, 313-4704, fourquarterbar.com.

Fox and Hound With 27 draft beers between $3.75 and $7, Fox and Hound is a solid place for lubricated game-watching. If it's on a Tuesday, you're in for a real treat: Drafts are just $2 and there's karaoke. If you're looking for something more, consider the Kryptonite Margarita, served in a giant martini glass for $5 during happy hour. It's Cuervo Gold tequila, triple sec, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix and Midori liqueur. 2800 Lakewood Village Drive, 753-8300, foxandhound.com.

Grumpy's Too A classic neighborhood bar and grill hidden off the well-trod path, Grumpy's Too features pool, darts and shuffleboard, plus a nice selection of one-of-a-kind cocktails, including the Little Rock Old Fashioned, made with Rock Town rye; the Beggar's Market, made with Maker's Mark, pale ale and maple syrup; and a Bloody Mary made of hot-pepper-infused-vodka with Jamaican jerk spice on the rim. Old faves like the Moscow Mule and rum swizzle are here, too. Dine on salads, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and flatbreads. 801 Green Mountain Drive, 225-3768, grumpystoo.com.

Gusano's A popular River Market district pizza place that does big bar business, too, especially when there's a big game or UFC fight on. Its big sellers are local brews like Lost Forty and Diamond Bear. 313 President Clinton Ave., 374-1441, gusanospizza.net.

Heights Taco and Tamale Co. Get some chips and Ark-Mex-style cheese dip and a frozen margarita or mojito and watch the Kavanaugh crowd from the patio bar. Or mix it up with a new spin on an old favorite: The HT&TEA features bourbon mixed with the restaurant's house-made tesote, a blend of black tea, juice, mint and honey. It's like a boozy sweet tea. 5805 Kavanaugh Blvd., 313-4848, facebook.com/heightstaco.

Heritage Grille Steak and Fin This bar next to the lobby restaurant (not to be confused with the private lounge for Marriott Silver Elite members) gets its customers mostly from hotel guests in the evening, but the general public stops in around lunch. The specialty drinks include the popular Heritage Mule (Crown Royal, orange bitters, ginger beer and fresh lime) and the aptly named La Petite Roche, which, thanks to its mixture of Bacardi, Capt. Morgan and Myers rums with a splash of pineapple juice and grenadine, may get you a little stoned. You can nosh at the bar. Little Rock Marriott, 3 Statehouse Plaza, 399-8000, heritagegrillelittle rock.com.

Hibernia Irish Tavern Buried in a nondescript strip mall alongside a Goodwill outlet and an adult toy and lingerie store, Hibernia Irish Tavern is a dive-bar gem of a place. Dark, cozy and quiet, it is reportedly the only Irish tavern in the state run by a born-and-bred Irishman: Gerry Ward, who came to Arkansas via New York after bidding the Emerald Isle goodbye in search of greener pastures. Not just a place to get a Guinness, Hibernia has distinguished itself over the last three years as one of the primary incubators for new standup comics in the area, with its weekly Thursday night comedy open mic night. Started by the late Little Rock comic Billy the Pirate and now hosted by comedian Paul Hodge, Hibernia's open mic draws over a dozen would-be comedians to the stage every week, with skill levels ranging from the outright terrible to ready-for-prime time. Longtime Hibernia waitress Sarah Garber says, "One of the comedians calls us the 'Comic Gym.' It's a place where you can work out, try new material, and then maybe move on to The Loony Bin and some of the other, bigger venues." Signup is promptly at 7:45 p.m., with the show starting at 8 and running until the last rimshot. If comedy isn't your thing, the bar also hosts a weekly singer/songwriter open mic night on Tuesday nights. 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, 246-4340, hiberniairishtavern.com.

MARBLE BAR, THE STAR: At Raduno in SoMa. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • MARBLE BAR, THE STAR: At Raduno in SoMa.

Hillcrest Fountain Drinking at the Fountain — whether in the fresh breeze of the outdoor porch with its patented view of the Kroger parking lot or in the smoky pool hall up front — is not about special drinks. It's mostly about good people, behind and in front of the bar, bartender Richard Dean says. But, the beer and wine can be sneakily enjoyable. Consider a $7 glass of Calcu Rosé or a $5 SweetWater Blueberry Wheat. Or, just kick back with those friends and grab a Miller Lite for $3.50. 2809 Kavanaugh Blvd., @thehillcrestfountain.

Jimmy Doyle's Country Club At the bar, a reporter turned down a cigarette offered by a truck driver from Austin who, smiling, said he was not a longtime patron — this was his first time at Jimmy Doyle's — but he wished he were. There's a truck stop next to the bar, so this could be a common sentiment of visitors to one of the last real honky tonks. "In the peak years, some 20 years ago," wrote former Times reporter Will Stephenson in his profile of the place and its owner, Jimmy Doyle, "they say you had to show up early to even get in the door." But, a group walked in on a Saturday with ease and went to one of quite a few empty tables right at the edge of the dance floor. The wood-paneled dance floor was almost empty; a few couples were spinning together. The men in cowboy hats moved with a controlled grace. "Friday nights are for karaoke, Saturdays are for the house band. There are no other nights," as Stephenson wrote. The specialty, the bartender Dwight says, is the OH MY GOD shot: Parrot Bay, Bacardi 151, grenadine and cranberry and pineapple juices. It's pink, smooth and fun. He made it by accident, served it, and a woman liked it so much she shouted, "OH MY GOD, that's good!" 11800 Maybelline Road, 945-9042, cash only.

Joubert's Guinness is on tap at Joubert's, $4 at night and $3.50 with the sun out. While you drink, you can admire the mural of bears in love (really, really in love). Folks are friendly and there are usually some sports on the TV, making it a nice spot for a beer after a long day. 7303 Kanis Road, 664-9953.

Khalil's It's the near-picture perfect corner bar where everybody knows your name, smack in the heart of West Little Rock, featuring cozy pub decor, flaming hearths in the winter, high-backed chairs and a well-attended karaoke scene on the weekends. Don't forget to throw a leg over the handlebar-mustache-shaped teeter-totter, which has likely given more drunk folks a ride over the years than that ex you hate. 110 S. Shackleford Road, 224-0224, khalilspub.com

Kings Live Music Kings has become known for its diverse music lineup and emphasis on local bands and songwriters, and the booze selection stays close to home, too. Kings keeps a stash of Rocktown Distillery goods on the shelf — the Rocktown basil, mandarin orange and grapefruit vodkas, as well as the Apple Pie Moonshine, which you can get for $4 a shot. Kings employee Brittany Labat reports the bar has been selling a lot of Flyway's Bluewing Berry Wheat these days, with the Diamond Bear Pale Ale and Lost Forty Love Honey Bock as close runners-up. 1020 Front St., Conway, 205-8512, kingslivemusic.com.

La Terraza Rum and Lounge The perfect spot for those who love them some rum, La Terraza features 20 different types of the sugarcane-based spirit, with different varieties available for tastings in flights of three or five. Befitting its signature liquor, La Terraza is best known for standout mojitos, offering several variations on the sweet and minty cocktail. 3000 Kavanaugh Blvd., Suite No. 202, 251-8261.

Local Lime If you've tried the house margarita, regularly heralded by Arkansas Times readers in our annual Toast of the Town poll, and run through mezcal and tequila flights, and sipped a Mexican Mule or Pisco Sour (all on separate visits, of course), the brain trust at Local Lime recommends the Gin in Bloom, made with Uncle Val's Botanical Gin, elderflower liqueur, house-made lavender simple syrup and lemon. 17809 Chenal Parkway, 448-2226, locallimetaco.com.

Lost Forty Brewing Look for the state's largest brewery to continue to expand its year-round and seasonal offerings as it keeps growing. We've got our fingers crossed that its Snake Party Double IPA makes the jump to year-round rotation soon. In the meantime, stock up: It was just rereleased this week. It's double dry hopped, double IPA brewed and dry hopped with citrusy Azacca hops. Pick some up after you grab a beer and some tasty pub-grub in the cavernous East Village taproom. 501 Byrd St., 319-7275, lostfortybrewing.com.

SIP AND SLIDE: Line dancers at the Electric Cowboy.
  • SIP AND SLIDE: Line dancers at the Electric Cowboy.

Maxine's The former brothel on Hot Springs' Bathhouse Row that's become known for its killer live music lineup, red-light vibe and enormous menu, is essentially a "bourbon bar," bartender Tercero Munoz says: "We have about four times as much bourbon as anything else." Locals also come in for the craft beer selection, much of which comes from Spa City locals Bubba Brews and Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Maxine's offers a special Sunday brunch from noon to 5 p.m., and the Bloody Marys are a mere $5. If you'd rather drink your Sunday dinner, fork over an extra 3 bucks and get the Bloody Mary "loaded." "There's literally a garden on it," Munoz said: A skewer balanced along the two ends of the glass rim comes stacked with olives, cheese, pepperoni, pickled okra, pickles, pearl onions, a piece of bacon and a small slice of pizza on the end. 700 Central Ave., Hot Springs, 321-0909, maxineslive.com.

Mellow Mushroom With 40 beers on draft and another 35 bottled, including most all of the local and regional brews you'd want, this pizza chain is a reliable West Little Rock watering hole, with great pizza, too. 16103 Chenal Parkway, 379-9157, mellowmushroom.com.

Mike's Cafe Enter Mike's Cafe and you might think you're in a nightclub. The foyer's got everything a club entrance usually does: a little window where you'd show some beefed-up bruiser your ID, a liquor license taped to the wall. But don't stop and wait to be seated. Push on and enter the full glory of Mike's, with its white-curtained stage, where after 8 p.m. there will be a full-on light show and maybe someone singing karaoke. A neon-yellow board lists menu items and says "Well Come to Mike's Cafe." You've arrived: It's not a nightclub or a surrealist painting or even a hipster dive bar. It's just a solid Vietnamese restaurant with $3 Singha Gold and Tsingtao beers. Drink away, enter the void. 5501 Asher Ave., 562-1515.

North Bar Snee Dismang will mix you North Bar's favorite drink: a combo of Grey Goose vodka and mango and pomegranate juice, a.k.a. the Park Hill martini. That's the favorite; No. 2 is the Blueberry Lemon Drop, a blueberry-muddled vodka martini. The bar, which opened five months ago, has just added eight beer taps, bringing the total to 16. North Bar is proud of its culinary abilities, too: Check out the very tall fried chicken sandwich. 3812 John F. Kennedy Blvd., NLR, 420-1117, @501northbar.

The Ohio Club On Hot Springs' famous Bathhouse Row since 1905, the building that houses The Ohio Club has been many things over the years — including, reportedly, a casino and brothel. But most enduringly, it's been a bar. Even during Prohibition, says Ohio Club owner Mike Pettey, the joint housed a semi-clandestine speakeasy frequented by mafiosi and baseball greats come down for spring training. The place still has that classic speakeasy feel today. Its 15 sorts of suds on tap are heavy on Arkansas-made offerings, including a brew called Madden's No. 1 from the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and named after famous mob boss Owney Madden. Nightly music year-round encourages Ohio Club patrons to rouge their knees and roll their stockings down, and all that jazz. Bonus: Pettey says try the Reuben sandwich, which he claims is the best in the nation. A bold claim, but then again, Hot Springs is built on 'em. 336 Central Ave., Hot Springs, 627-0702, theohioclub.com.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom An anomaly in once-dry-as-a-powderhouse Conway, Old Chicago is a temple of beers, with one of the broadest selections of liquid bread between Little Rock and Fayetteville. It brings in artisan craft brews from as far away as Memphis, and rotates in at least a dozen new varieties at least twice a month to keep things interesting. 1010 Main St., Conway, 329-6262, oldchicago.com/locations/Conway.

One Eleven The Capital Hotel's fine dining restaurant just unveiled a new cocktail menu. Head bartender Loic Lautredou predicts the new Thyme Basil Martini will be the big seller. "It's very floral for the summer, very refreshing, with a not-too-sweet finish," he reports. 111 W. Markham St., 370-7011, onelevenatthecapital.com.

The Oyster Bar This downhome eatery serves up just enough beer and wine to whet a whistle otherwise employed in lapping up gumbo or chowing down on a po'boy: On the beer side, it's Lost Forty and Diamond Bear local brews, beers on draft and bottled ales. The black and tan — Bass Pale Ale and Guinness stout — is a favorite. There are six wines: three whites, three reds. 3003 W. Markham St., 666-7100, lroysterbar.com.

FROZEN: Baja Grill's margaritas. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • FROZEN: Baja Grill's margaritas.

The Pantry (11401 N. Rodney Parham Road) and The Pantry Crest (722 N. Palm St.) David Timberlake (no relation to Justin, he says), who bartends at both of Tomas Bohm's successful Czech/German restaurants, sees a difference in the West Little Rock crowd and the Hillcrest crowd. "Honestly, people are a bit apt to drink and stay longer," consuming spirits, in Hillcrest; he thinks that's because Hillcrest is a walking neighborhood, so folks can just stagger home on foot. The West Little Rock customers, an older group, drink more wine. The favored drink is the Old Fashioned; folks in Hillcrest also really like the mules: The Moscow made with vodka, the Tennessee with bourbon and the Mexican with tequila. Another popular drink is the Negroni (equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) and the Boulevardier variation, which uses whiskey. Both restaurants have a separate bar area; Timberlake said, "We keep food and drink prices reasonable." Happy hours are 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close. 353-1875 in WLR; 725-4945 in Hillcrest. littlerockpantry.com.

Petit & Keet The gourmand who enjoys a great meal at Petit & Keet will be tempted by the specialty cocktails from the huge bar, like the Smoking Gun, a blend of mezcal, pineapple juice and agave simple syrup. For Sonic soft drink aficianados, there is the surprising Cherry Limeade Mule, a blend of sweet, pucker and fizz. Enjoy on the patio or in the sleek dining room. 1620 Market St., 319-7676, @petitandkeet.

Pizza D'Action PBR is $1.50. At this point, you should have put down the paper and headed over to the lovingly smoked-filled and above-ground cavern for a drink and a random conversation. If it's Wednesday, grab a $3 Fireball shot with new friends or old. 2915 W. Markham St., 666-5403.

The Pizzeria General manager and bartender Dillon Garcia is obsessed with craft cocktails, and he's got a tattoo of a martini on his arm to prove it. At only 25, he's also got a handful of mixology awards and a side business, Arkansas Mixology Associates, where he consults with bars around the state. But most nights you'll find him at this Heights hotspot, mixing up classic cocktails — his Old Fashioned was excellent last time we were in — and dreaming up his own creations. Late night, 10-11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, is a particularly good time to drop in. It's reverse happy hour and cocktails, featuring a high-end well (Jim Beam Black, Bombay Sapphire Gin, etc.), for only $5. 4910 Kavanaugh Blvd., 551-1388, facebook.com/pizzeriasantaluciaLR.

Prost The calmer, loungy cousin to Willy D's and Deep, two bars that are connected to Prost via a hallway and stairs. With a strong beer menu and plenty of TVs. 322 President Clinton Blvd.

The RAB While the bar side of things at The RAB doesn't sound like it's going to set the world on fire, with the standard foreign and domestic beers on tap and bartenders willing to whip up a cocktail or mixed drink, there is a draw: pool. A classic bar/pool hall that draws everyone from college kids to retirees, The RAB features eight competition-grade Diamond Billiard pool tables, and hosts both league nights and a weekly 8-ball tournament on Friday that attracts up to 40 competitors, according to bartender Flip Tindall. If pool isn't your thing, there are 12 TVs, and you can always spend your time drinkin' if you feel behind the eight ball. 408 Hwy. 65 N, Conway, 336-8484

Raduno Is there a better Little Rock bar — like the actual bar top — than Raduno's marble counter? We haven't found it. Like the cool stone, the SoMa spot's new cocktail menu is a summertime dream. We were particularly taken by the Hummingbird (vodka, honey, lavender syrup and lemon juice) and will be back for Summer in SoMa (gin, grapefruit liqueur and watermelon juice) and a spin on the Pimm's Cup. 1318 Main St., 374-7476, radunolr.com.

Rebel Kettle Complimentary popcorn, a new outdoor stage, tasty Cajun-tinged pub grub and 16 beers on tap — what more could you want from your local brewpub? The blonde ale Working Glass Hero is a good starting place for newbies; it's long been the brewery's best seller. The week of the Fourth of July, look out for the rerelease of the hugely popular Summer Jam, a raspberry sour saison. Every week, head brewer and co-owner John Lee is cooking up something new. 822 E. Sixth St., 374-2791, rebelkettle.com.

Revolution Rev Room knows how to name drinks: The bar menu includes a "Latin Kiss," a "Fuzzy Thing" and something called "Dirty Juan Pedro's Bloody Buddy." There are over a dozen types of tequila, and you can supercharge your drinks with a "fruit fusion" puree — lemon basil, blackberry tangerine, pineapple vanilla bean, watermelon mint or mango chili Sriracha. 823-0090, 300 President Clinton Ave., revroom.com.

Ristorante Capeo To match its top-notch fine dining menu, Ristorante Capeo's wine list features over 125 labels, most by the bottle or glass, with prices ranging from cheap enough for Thursday night dinner to once-a-year special occasion rare. There's beer and a full bar, too. 425 Main St., North Little Rock, 376-3463, capeo.us.

Rocky's Corner A good place to drink off the sting of a losing streak at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming across the street — or buy a round if your horse comes in — Rocky's Corner bills itself as a family-friendly joint that's not afraid to have some fun. On tap are over a dozen beers and signature mixed drinks, including the Cannella ($7.50), featuring spiced rum, butterscotch schnapps, Kahlua and half and half, which bartender Andrew Carney swears tastes like "a cinnamon roll in a glass." 2600 Central Ave., Hot Springs, 624-0199, rockyscornerhotsprings.com

Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill As the name implies, Samantha's is tap happy, with at least 10 wines and 23 beers on tap, including Arkansas craft brews from Core, Bubba Brews, Diamond Bear, Flyway, Lost Forty, Ozark, Rebel Kettle and Stone's Throw. The fanciest wine: Witchery Reserve blend ($65 a bottle). The strongest brew: Rebel Kettle's Alphaholic (8.5 percent alcohol). Favorite mixed drinks: The blood orange and basil margarita and the White Linen (cucumber-infused vodka and St-Germain elderflower liqueur). 322 Main St., 379-8019, samstap.com.

Silk's at Oaklawn At Silk's you can order beer by the yard. That is, you can order a 96-ounce draft beer — advertised as two yards worth — for $21. Or you can go for the more tame 20-ounce drafts, domestics at $4.25 and crafts at $5.50. All are a good bet. 2705 Central Ave., Hot Springs, 623-4411, oaklawn.com.

So Restaurant-Bar What is so special about So? The Hillcrest stalwart "definitely has the best wine list in town," bartender Justin Butler boasts. It's also got Butler's colleague Veo Tyson, perennial winner or finalist as the best bartender in Little Rock in the Arkansas Times' annual Toast of the Town. Killer bar menu, too: BBQ chicharrones; a bacon, egg and cheese; Alaskan King Crab? Yes, please. 3610 Kavanaugh Blvd. 663-1464. sorestaurantbar.com

GANGSTER BEER: At the Ohio Club. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • GANGSTER BEER: At the Ohio Club.

South on Main Bar manager Sarah Harrington, who spent a good amount of time working closely with former bar manager David Burnette before he took off for Ciao Baci, has mixed up some sparkling summer cocktail offerings: The Evening in Missoula — a blend of vodka, herbal tea, honey, orange, lemon, lime and mint — is a crowd favorite. 1304 Main St., 244-9660, southonmain.com.

Southern Table In July, when winemaker Margie Raimondo opens her "board and bites" restaurant in the space where cheesemaker Kent Walker once held forth, she'll be serving her own and other small farm wines and local beers, including brews from Lost Forty and Flyway. She'll also offer a Brewed Mary (a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka), a seasonal sangria and sparkling wine cocktails. If you want to stay virgin, try Raimondo's special tea. All will pair with her boards of cheese and charcuterie and various tapas supplied by local farmer's markets. Think "shared menu type of environment," Raimondo said, for shared fun among friends. 323 Cross St., 379-9111, southerntablefoods.com.

Spectators Spectators wears the neighborhood vibe with ease. But unlike many neighborhood joints, it does so without being too small to fit in even a block's worth of friends. Over spacious tables and among a mid-life-crisis-level garage sale of items on the wall, enjoy an Arkansas-based beer on tap for only $5. This is a place to come after work and stay like you're home. 1012 W. 34th St., NLR, 791-0990, spectatorsgrillandpub.com.

Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack This River Market district staple makes chicken its bread and butter, so the standout cocktail here is the Frozen Motherclucker, sort of like an adult Orange Julius. It'll run you $5 during happy hour and $6 regularly. July's Beer of the Month selection ($3.50 per pint) is the Lagunitas Pilsner, and you'll also find the Lagunitas IPA, Fat Tire, Diamond Bear Pale Ale, SweetWater 420, Lost Forty Honey Bock, Stella Artois and Flyway Brewery Bluewing Berry Wheat on tap. 107 River Market Ave., 372-7707, stickyz.com.

Stone's Throw Brewing Amadeus Vienna Lager is the beloved Ninth Street brewery's best seller, and you'll find it, along with Common Sense California Common and Shamus Oatmeal Stout, on tap year-round along with a rotating cider selection and three seasonals that change every three months. 4402 E. Ninth St., 501-244-9154, stonesthrowbeer.com.

Table 28 Table 28 has the elevated feel without the price. During happy hour (4-6:30 p.m. weekdays), swing by for $5 wine, $2 domestic beers and the well-known cucumber martini for $9. The cucumber gin is made in-house and mixed with elderflower liqueur, a little lemon juice and champagne. 1501 Merrill Drive. (attached to the Burgundy Hotel), 224-2828, theburgundyhotel.com.

Taco Mama The house margarita is definitely the ticket at Taco Mama, head bartender Holli Faulknor reports. Why? "There's not a bottle of sweet and sour in the house. All of our margaritas are made with fresh-squeezed juices," Faulknor says. Get 'em on the rocks or frozen. We can vouch for Faulknor's estimation; Taco Mama's margarita was an obvious fan favorite at the Arkansas Times Margarita Festival. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, all drinks and appetizers are a dollar off. 1209 Malvern Ave., Hot Springs, 624-6262, tacomama.net.

The Tavern Sports Grill A craft-beer oasis in far West Little Rock, The Tavern features 16 beers on tap. Most of the biggest names in local craft brewing are represented, including Core, Flyway, Lost Forty and others. Try a few with the applewood-smoked chicken wings, which owner Ryan Brown said have won national awards, including a spot on USA Today's list of the best wings in the nation. 17815 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, 830-2100, thetavernsportsgrill.com

TC's Midtown Grill There aren't many bars where you might be served by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's sixth great-grandson, but TC's is one. Or at least that's what barkeep Nathan Tennyson says. TC's Tennyson creates a different kind of poetry, like his "Sex with the Bartender" and "Loudmouth Bitch" drinks. Seems like he's aiming for the female market with his concoctions of Watermelon Pucker plus a banana liqueur, orange juice and a Tropical Red Bull ("Sex") and coconut rum, peach schnapps, pineapple and orange juices and grenadine ("Bitch"). More patrons of this smoking bar are going for beers, Tennyson said, including locals Lost Forty, Rebel Kettle, Flyway and Diamond Bear. Restaurant servers get a special membership that reduces the prices of drinks at this private club. TC's is also known for its hamburgers. 1611 E. Oak St., Conway, 205-0576, tcsmidtown.com.

A FULL MEAL: The Loaded Bloody Mary at Maxine's in Hot Springs. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • A FULL MEAL: The Loaded Bloody Mary at Maxine's in Hot Springs.

Thirst N' Howl Let yourself relax with an Absolute Stress Reliever for $8 at Thirst N' Howl. It's got Absolut vodka, Peachtree liqueur, Malibu and Myers rum, and orange, pineapple and cranberry juices. Drink it and bob your head to the local live music — a West Little Rock version of transcendental meditation. 14710 Cantrell Road, 379-8189, thirst-n-howl.com.

Town Pump About 10 minutes before the doors opened for lunch at 11 a.m. on a Friday morning, regulars were leaning on the wall outside waiting to get into this Riverdale dive. Bartender and server Sydney Daniels, who's been there four years, knew them all by name, and feigned surprise when one of them asked to see a menu. "You don't know it already?" she chided. Daniels pointed out some patron favorites from the beer list, which boasts over 37 brews in cans or bottles and Lagunitas IPA, Angry Orchard, Lost Forty Honey Bock, Shiner Bock, Dos Equis and, of course, Bud Light, on tap. "Tuesday is karaoke night," she said, "so our $3 well drinks are popular. And the SweetWater beers are popular right now. They're out of Atlanta." She produced two plastic containers from under the bar. "$2 Jello shots all the time. Right now, we have lemon and strawberry." In summer months, she said, people turn to cocktails with Tito's and Deep Eddy vodkas with grapefruit juice or lemonade. She mixed a small sample of something called "Red Tea," a bright pink blend of Jameson, peach schnapps and cranberry juice. "It tastes like Kool-Aid," she said, and it does. It's dangerously easy to drink, and even as a sip, probably a bad idea before noon. The regulars seemed to agree; they paired their burgers with a sensible Pabst Blue Ribbon. 663-9802. 1321 Rebsamen Park Road.

U.S. Pizza If you enjoy sitting on a patio and drinking, you probably already know this: U.S. Pizza has some of the best happy hour specials around. At all locations, select drafts are $2 on Tuesday and $2.50 on Thursday. On Saturday and Sunday, Bloody Marys are $3, mimosas are $2 and champagne buckets with a carafe of orange juice are just $7.49. Brunch runs 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Many locations all over Central Arkansas. uspizzaco.net.

Vino's Brewpub What do you get at a brewpub? Brew, of course. Vino's four mainstays are Firehouse Pale Ale, Pinnacle IPA, Six Bridges Cream Ale and Lazy Boy Stout, but brewer Hunter Tackett has got a batch of Rainbow Wheat coming on for the summer. Vino's also sells beer by the growler. Oh, yes, you can get a glass of wine here, too. 823 W. Seventh St., 375-8466, vinosbrewpub.com.

The Water Buffalo Taproom While many homebrewers long to see the name of their beloved custom suds on a tap handle in a real bar somewhere, it's rare for those dreams to come true: It's a costly leap from stovetop to commercial brewing. Rare doesn't mean never, however, as proven by the offerings at The Water Buffalo's taproom. The Water Buffalo, which started out as a beer and winemaking supplies store, opened a taproom in October 2016, allowing customers to both buy craft beer and the goodies to make their own in one stop. Among the 16 beers (and one root beer) on offer, there are also brews by what he calls the cooperative: a unique-in-the-region arrangement in which four former Water Buffalo customers have, through an agreement with Buffalo Brewing Co., effectively gone pro. Since he sells the supplies, Nolen Buffalo knows who is making good homebrew and winning brewing contests. The four homebrewers are now distributing commercially under the Buffalo Brewing Co. name. But don't go rushing down to the Water Buffalo with a growler of your favorite sure-fire recipe under your arm, hoping to make the team. Buffalo said the cooperative's roster is full right now, though he's likely to extend invitations to more homebrewers in the future. 106 S. Rodney Parham Road, 725-5296, thewaterbuffalo.com.

West End Smokehouse & Tavern A relaxed and comfortable place to meet and greet in West Little Rock — or to catch a game on one of its 50 televisions — West End features a big (and cheap) selection of over 50 beers, heavy on well-known foreigns and domestics. Rounding out the menu are 10 wines by the bottle or glass, plus a half-dozen signature cocktails (none over $7.50) and another half-dozen cocktails built around the Red Bull energy drink, for when you want both up and down in the same glass. 215 N. Shackleford Road, 224-7665, westendsmokehouse.net.

White Water Tavern The best damn bar anywhere does not do cocktails more complicated than whiskey and Coke. There's no blender and, as far as anyone can remember, there never has been. After Matt White and Sean Hughes and others bought the bar 10 years ago, the bar sold something like 400 percent more Jameson than it had before they took over. "Maybe because we're getting old," White, 34, says of his cohort. "But people don't drink Jameson like they used to." Fireball has become a go-to. Go figure. But forever and ever, the best-selling drink and the one we always turn to when we're stomping along to live music is Pabst Blue Ribbon: It's only $1.50 — among the best regular beer deals in town. 2500 W. Seventh St., 375-8400, whitewatertavern.com.

ALWAYS A DEAL: Cheap PBR at White Water Tavern. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • ALWAYS A DEAL: Cheap PBR at White Water Tavern.

Willy D's Another longtime River Market piano bar (the other is Ernie Biggs), where locals and tourists congregate to get sloppy and sing. Bonus points: The nightclub Deep is in the basement. 322 President Clinton Ave., 244-9550, willydspianobar.com.

Zin Urban Wine flights, three half-glasses providing a few tastes of this specialty spot for between $12-$16, are the trick at Zin Urban. The Call Me a Cab — a trio of Cabernets — is a favorite, but ask the bartender, who should be full of good suggestions. 300 River Market Ave., 246-4876, zinlr.com.

Zack's Place Another local haunt whose bar side caters to those looking for a classic neighborhood feel, Zack's has been open since 1988, and features a full bar plus 14 beers on tap, heavy on domestic brews like Bud and Bud Light, plus a nice selection of dark beers. Drink up while watching any of 25 TVs, going Minnesota Fats on one of the three pool tables or throwing bullseyes on one of the five dartboards. 1400 S. University Ave., 664-6444, @zacksplace.

ZAZA We've long made stops at ZAZA just to get a scoop of impossibly creamy gelato on a hot summer night. Now there's a new attraction: the F'Rosé (frozen rosé wine). The grown-up slushy will be available at the Conway and Heights locations through the summer. Beer and wine and margaritas are here, too. 5600 Kavanaugh Blvd., 661-9292; 1050 Ellis Ave., Conway. zazapizzaandsalad.com.

It doesn't have to be a bar


Chipotle
At Little Rock's watering holes, everybody may know your name, but no one cares that you're drinking, unless you are on the floor. But order an overpriced Patron tequila margarita at Chipotle for $7 and watch, in awe, as the clientele judges you (bonus points if you get one in the afternoon). As St. Augustine said of his infatuation with pears, "[It] pleased us all the more because it was forbidden." Sweet transgression; oh sin, for sin's sake. 100 S. University Ave, 404-2557.

Dickey-Stephens Park Some folks go for the baseball, others because they like to drink outdoors. But to most of us, the call of "cold beer" and the sound of cracking bats is music to our ears. The beer garden has draft beer; local brews are available on the concourse as well. 400 W. Broadway St., NLR, 664-1555.

Leo's Greek Castle It's rare you get to report cost in the range of cents, but here goes: 75-cent PBR's are served at Leo's. This tiny Greek eatery is not a typical place to drink, but why not? Maybe you'll be like Socrates, said to be able to "drink any quantity of wine and not be at all nearer being drunk." Or if the Pabst catches up with you, maybe folks will say: "Will you have a very drunken man as a companion of your revels?" Either way works at Leo's. 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd, 666-7414.

Professor Bowl If it's been a minute since you hit the lanes, here's an extra incentive to step back out: Professor Bowl has a list of craft beers to rival any in town. That'll help all those gutter balls go down easier. 901 Towne Oaks Drive, 224-9040, home.professorbowlwest.com.

Riverdale 10 In an age of movies on your phone, going to the cinema can be a dip into pure luxury. Especially around Little Rock, where the Riverdale 10 and other movie houses have tried to attract customers with big reclining leather seats. So, really go for it and get a beer or some wine. You'll pay $7 for a 12-ounce beer ($10.75 for a 22-ounce). The wines are $7.50. Is that overpriced? Yes; it's a movie theater. Honestly, it will help to be a little tipsy to get through the new "Transformers" movie. 2600 Cantrell Road, 296-9955, riverdale10.com

Taqueria Guadalajara The micheladas at Taqueria Guadalajara — Clamato juice mixed with your beer of choice and spices — come in giant steins with Tajín seasoning around the rim. The micheladas are strong and the stein's size is no joke: I've never been able to finish an entire drink in less than an hour's meal. Best to enjoy this refreshing gulp with the cheap, cheap eats of the taqueria, on a long summer afternoon. 3813 Camp Robinson Road, 753-9991.


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