Nightlife: Raise Your Spirits

Stop ordering the same boring mug of Yuengling. Challenge your palate with these unusual drinks.

Photo by Jake Z. on Flickr

For many of us, a night out means a mug of Yuengling and a shot of something brown. For others, it means craft beers or table wine. We order the same thing over and over because that’s what we expect of our evening. But your palate may ache for something new. Here are some more unusual spirits, many brewed right around the corner.

Sweet. Amber-colored. Warms the belly. Mead is older than recorded civilization, and if “honey wine” could delight pharaohs and Vikings, it’s certainly worth a sip. Mead is making a comeback across America, but Pittsburghers are lucky to have the Laurel Highlands Meadery, based in Greensburg. This brand can be found at both Bocktown Beer and Grill locations (among other establishments), but you can try other labels at nearly any liquor store. (

Hard Cider
Cider has always been a happy alternative to beer, both for its apple taste and reserved alcohol content (depending on the style). Recently, Arsenal Cider House has elevated hard cider to an art form. Arsenal’s boutique brewery specializes in “small batch, hand-crafted hard apple cider,” not to mention “cider-style” fruit/grape wines and mead. Like the best brew houses, Arsenal staffers encourage customers to visit their Lawrenceville headquarters and enjoy their antebellum atmosphere. (

Not long ago, the high-profile anise-flavored potable made of wormwood seemed mythic and strange. Nowadays, people are more familiar with the herbal spirit, and although it’s still incredibly strong, absinthe is a legal beverage once more. You can have your own bottle from most liquor stores (for a pretty penny) or try a properly prepared glass at Meat & Potatoes, which specializes in Repeal- and Prohibition-style drinks. (

There’s something pure about vodka — so clear, so mixable. For one of the finest pours in the world, made with local Pennsylvania potatoes, try Boyd & Blair. Not only is Boyd & Blair a proud Steel City company, but staffers make every batch by hand, and they’ve been winning high praise from spirits connoisseurs. Better yet, their bottles can be found in almost any state store. Nostrovia! (

Flicks: Walk-In Movies
The sun sets, the picnic blankets come out and the film rolls. What could be more pleasant than Cinema in the Park, the open-air movie theater that has graced Flagstaff Hill for years — especially when the movies are free? This city-funded program (also sponsored by Dollar Bank) screens films all over the county, from Arsenal Park to Brookline, and regulars are diehard. But Pittsburghers often forget that this summer series exists, and August is your last chance to catch an outdoor flick. This month, you can see recent films like Green Lantern, Super 8, Just Go With It and campy classic Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Roll ’em!

(Various locations and times; free;

Categories: Things To Do