You’re just as likely to find wine-barrel-aged beer as vino itself inside these diverse hangouts, each with a personality of its own and equally worthy of oenophiles.
CHICAGO | The Bluebird
This bar’s seriously devoted to drink, from its sommelier-and-beer-director-selected beer and wine to dishes like mussels cooked in white wine, Flanders red ale or Belgian witbier. Plus, warm wood, exposed brick and soft lighting create romance. BEER: The bottles-only beer list lets you stay local with Metropolitan Brewing, or hop the pond with Belgium’s Petrus Aged Pale. Feeling spendy? Pick a vintage bottle from the bar’s Reserve selection. WINE: Sommelier Jeremy Quinn—named a “Top Sommelier of 2012” by Food and Wine—and beer director Luke LeFiles train staff to help with food pairing and beer-wine comparisons: Instead of the lemony St-Feuillien Grand Cru with that mixed green salad, try a glass of Prosecco Bisson 2010, a fruity Italian sparkling wine. FACT: The bar’s lights once hung over the Philadelphia convention center’s stage, illuminating notables like The Beatles and Nelson Mandela. OCCASION: Date night
ORLANDO, FLA. | The Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden
Situated inside quirky Washburn Imports, a furniture store specializing in Southeast Asian antiques, this funky bar merges craft beer, boutique wine and eclectic decor. BEER: Six taps, roughly 30 bottles and nearly 60 wines draw a neighborhood crowd looking to explore new flavors and, sometimes, inspire their next home renovation. Acclaimed offerings from Portland’s sour-specializing Cascade (Kriek) and Florida fave Cigar City (Humidor Series Double Black Ale) sit beside ciders from England, radlers from Germany and wheats from Japan. WINE: If you’re a fan of mellow, fruity sours like Duchesse de Bourgogne, try out rich cabernets like Argentina’s Felino Cabernet Sauvignon. Or, if you have a few bucks to burn, splurge on very limited reserve bottles like the $295 2006 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon from California. FACT: Don’t forget you’re drinking in an antique furniture shop: Test drive the various chairs around the bar—just keep a tight grip on your glass. OCCASION: Antiquing and drinking
COVINA, CALIF. | AzoVino Wine Bar
There’s never a dull moment inside this lively, spacious beer/wine bar-meets-bottle-shop-meets-music venue: Come often for regular tastings (from French flights to weekly mini- tastings of three 2-ounce pours) and stay late for the live blues, jazz and rock while snacking on food truck street tacos out on the patio. BEER: Six rotating taps and nearly 100 bottles round out the hefty beer selection; you can’t go wrong with educational Beer of the Week picks like Green Flash Palate Wrecker. WINE: Selecting one of the 200 mostly Californian wines may seem daunting, but beer lovers should heed the advice of proprietor Galen Metz, who’s personally loving California’s Hidden Ridge 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: Scents of cedar and a profile laced with mocha and anise should be familiar fare for experienced beer drinkers. Don’t miss Burgers and Beers, a monthly event that features six new beer tastings and build-your-own burgers for $15. OCCASION: Swapping notes with beer geeks