Thursday, March 18, 2021
Drink Like a Local in Bloomington
Categories: Wine & Culinary
Disclaimer: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we realize some visitors may not currently feel comfortable dining inside restaurants. In the meantime, please support your favorite local restaurants with carryout or delivery instead! Be prepared to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, and call ahead as hours of operation may be different than posted. Above all, thank you for supporting Bloomington's restaurants and shops.
Craft beers, local wines, cold smoothies, house-roasted coffee... the list of Bloomington beverages goes on and on. With five breweries, two wineries, two cideries, one distillery, and countless non-alcoholic options, the ways for you to spend your days drinking like a local are endless. Check out this list to help you decide where to head when you need a liquid treat.
Just because you're under 21 or simply don't want to imbibe doesn't mean you can't enjoy some unique Bloomington brews. Check out these spots for coffee, teas, smoothies, and juices.
This one's for our boba tea lovers! Bapu Fresh offers a variety of milk teas, smoothies, and hot & iced teas, all including those delicious little flavored bubbles. Adventurous eaters will enjoy their unique, exotic flavors, such as lychee, sesame taro, and honeydew. Standard flavors, like strawberry, peach, and green apple, are also available for those who aren't so keen on living on the edge of Flavortown.
Cup & Kettle Tea Company
If tea is your drink of choice, you'll love Cup & Kettle Tea Co. With 40+ small-batch teas and blends, you'll have a blast trying each flavor and determining which blends are your favorites. Not sure where to start? We recommend the Strawberry Champagne blend for a fruity, vanilla-y cup of comfort. If you're really passionate about tea, consider joining their monthly tea subscription program. Every box includes four teas with an information card. Your first box will even include a tea ball infuser to get you started on your tea journey.
Take a stroll down the B-Line Trail and hit up Hopscotch for coffee, tea, kombucha, and even more beverage options. Rainbow Bakery's vegan treats and a huge variety of other baked goods line the pastry case, and there's no shortage of milk alternatives to suit every lifestyle. Be sure to stop by their second location for a java fix the next time you're perusing the farmer's market.
Insider Tip: Love your Hopscotch coffee but live too far to make a daily stop? Grab a bag of beans or subscribe to a monthly bag of your favorite blend on Hopscotch's website.
If you're looking for an early weekend treat, stop by Bloomington's original acai and juice bar. InBloom has every combination of fruit + toppings for the most Insta-worthy acai bowl you can imagine. They also offer a killer organic juice selection, with everything from a beginner's cleanse to an after-party cure.
Needmore Coffee Roasters
Woman-owned, ethically-sourced, small-batch, organic, locally-roasted coffee? Yes, please! Stop by Needmore to grab a cup of socially-minded coffee, sourced from small-scale farmers around the world. With a mission of supporting small businesses near and far, Needmore also carries Muddy Fork baked goods, homemade quiche, and Sazon tamales so you can support an array of small businesses as well.
A local favorite for a good cup of coffee or a flavorful smoothie, Soma is a local Bloomington cafe chain full of quirky surprises. Soma carries all varieties of coffee, from your standard cold brew to signature espressos (try the Oahu for a tropical burst of joy) to chai lattes and much more. If coffee isn't your jam, a wide range of hot and cold teas are available. Feeling something fruity and fresh? Try a house-blended smoothie or an organic juice. Grab a fresh-baked pastry to-go and take a peek inside TD's CDs & LPs when you're done with your drink — they have an entrance right through the backroom at Soma's Kirkwood location!
21 and Over
Looking to grab an adult beverage from a local brewpub, winery, or bar? Look no further than these B-Town staples. Bloomington has 21+ venues for the sports fan, the gamer, the underground adventurer, the craft cocktail connoisseur, the ultimate IU fan, the drag queen, the wine-o, and — if you can believe it — even more.
The Back Door
The Back Door welcomes all walks of life, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community will especially enjoy Bloomington's only gay bar. A frequent host of drag and burlesque shows, live music, dance parties, and karaoke, The Back Door guarantees a fabulously fun time for anyone who walks through their doors.
Bear's Ale House & Eatery
If you're a fan of local dives with chill vibes, stop by Bear's for a brew or craft cocktail. The eatery has established itself as a B-Town tradition, as it's sat across the street from the IU Jacob's School of Music since 1972. Students looking to charm their parents with Bloomington's quintessential culture might consider sharing a plate of wings and fries on the patio!
Big Woods Bloomington
Right off Kirkwood Avenue, you'll find Big Woods, the Bloomington location of a Nashville favorite known for its craft beer, food, and spirits. The intimate house is always full of lively conversation and mouth-watering scents flowing out of the kitchen, and there's an ever-changing drink menu full of seasonal beers and neo-classical drinks featuring Hard Truth spirits. You'll absolutely want to order an appetizer or entree to go with your drink of choice — Big Woods does not mess around when it comes to serving up classic American pub food with a unique twist.
Bloomington Brewing Company
One of the first microbreweries in Bloomington and the place locals consistently come back to, Bloomington Brewing Company is located in the same building as Lennie's and shares the same charm as the home-grown eatery. At BBC, you'll find a wide selection of locally brewed ales, stouts, IPAs, and more, all made with sustainable practices and community partnerships in mind.
Gamers will find the ultimate bar experience at The Cade. Bloomington's first (and only) arcade bar offers a wide variety of free-to-play games with 18 stand-up cabinets and 6 consoles. The bar also regularly hosts trivia nights and "Glitch Tuesdays" with live DJs. Drinks range from local brews to classic cocktails to spiked slushies — something for everyone to enjoy as they play a game of Mario Kart 64, Guardians of the Galaxy Pinball, or Asteriods!
Cardinal Spirits is the definitive stop for award-winning craft spirits in Bloomington. Whether you're craving a spiked hot chocolate or you'd rather shake it up with a spiced rum Love Child, Cardinal has a drink for you. Stop by the distillery for a drink and a bite off their spectacular small-plate menu — you'll see why Cardinal is so beloved among Bloomingtonians.
Known for their frequent drink specials, happy hour, huge food menu, and vast selection of beer & spirits, Crazy Horse is a Bloomington staple that offers patio seating, indoor dining, and a private banquet room. A popular spot for students, locals, and visitors, the tavern is a great place to sit back and take in B-Town's energy.
Friendly Beasts Cider Company
Cider people, we have options for you, too! Friendly Beasts is the local cidery where people go to catch up with friends over a flight of cider or to read a book and sip on one of the many unique flavors offered here. This is a great place to stop if you're looking for somewhere to drink but have gluten-sensitive friends with you — cider is naturally gluten-free!
The Irish Lion
There's only one proper place to get a pint of Guinness in town, and it's The Irish Lion. Bloomington's authentic Irish pub is known for it's Irish fare, whiskeys, bourbons, and scotches. Established in 1882, The Irish Lion has a fascinating history that makes for great conversation over a whiskey and order of Blarney puffballs.
Kilroy's on Kirkwood
Those who are visiting town and seeking an authentic IU student experience absolutely must stop by Kilroy's on Kirkwood. The legendary student-favorite is fondly known as KOK and goes by the motto "It's not a bar; it's a lifestyle." Whether you're day drinking or planning a night on the town, KOK is a high-energy choice for any occasion.
Oliver Winery is a must for all wine enthusiasts visiting Bloomington. The grounds are stunning, and their wine is revered across the country, available for sale in more than 30 states. Order a flight of six wines to sip on their covered patio, and munch on a gourmet cheese and meat assortment if you get hungry. Before you leave, be sure to grab a bottle of Oliver's Bean Blossom hard cider to enjoy at a later date.
Nick's English Hut
Nick's is a Hoosier classic. On any given weekend, you'll find tables full of people crowded around a game of Sink the Biz and chowing down on Biz Fries or tenderloins the size of your head. Nick's is sure to be the place you and yours return to when you're searching for that home-away-from-home feeling at a pub in Bloomington.
The Root Cellar Lounge
Looking for an underground experience? Look no further than The Root Cellar Lounge. Located in the basement of FARMbloomington, the underground bar offers a wide range of local libations, craft cocktails, and nightly specials. The funky venue is known for its unique, eclectic atmosphere and low-key vibe — you'll feel like you've been transported to another world until you ascend the stairs to Kirkwood Avenue again.
Switchyard Brewing Company
Offering Bloomington-based brews in a family-friendly space, Switchyard Brewing has a variety of unique local beers that will inspire you to come back for more. Their in-house pizza kitchen and food truck partnerships ensure that you'll never be hungry, whether you're savoring a slice, grabbing a Mac Daddy from the Big Cheeze, or enjoying Sazon's traditional Mexican food on Taco Thursdays.
With the motto "Drink Good Beer" and a hearty selection of craft brews to help you do it, it's clear why The Tap is a favorite among locals. There are 90 tapped beers and 400 bottles to choose from at The Tap, including seasonal options as well as blended beers. The Tap is the place to go if you're looking for a world-wide craft experience without leaving Bloomington.
Insider Tip: Get to The Tap a little early on the weekends — they don't take reservations and it's a seat yourself restaurant. Oh, and definitely order the Tap Fries. The house seasoning and four house-made dipping sauces set these fries apart from the rest. Trust us when we say you won't be disappointed.
Upland Brewing Co.
Sipping a pint of an Upland ale while watching the sun go down on the patio is its own kind of wonderful. Upland is one of Indiana's largest breweries and is popular for good reason — their selection of seasonal, craft, and exclusive beers will leave you wanting to come back and try them all. The brewpub is also home to an awesome lineup of not-so-typical comfort food to pair with their beer selection.
Want to know about more local favorites? Check out Eat Like a Local.
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