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Cocktails That 'Make You Fall In Love With Stuff You Don't Like': America's 15 Favorite Local Spots to Have a Drink From a throwback basement bar in Vegas to a craft beer bar making sublime sandwiches into the wee hours, these local, independent nightlife businesses are worth staying out for.

By Entrepreneur Staff Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the July 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Kc R. | Yelp
A cocktail at The Setting in Washington, DC

Entrepreneur asked Yelp to dig into its data, to reveal which ones America loved the most. Together we created America's Favorite Mom & Pop Shops™, a list of 150 local, independently owned and operated businesses across 10 categories — including, yes, nightlife.

To see every category, as well as the methodology behind the list, click here. Below are the 15 companies included in the nightlife category.

Note: Some businesses may have multiple locations. Only one location is listed for each.

1. Tomi Jazz

New York, NY

Company website | Yelp page

Tomi Jazz offers a unique escape for a New York evening: Visitors can enjoy jazz while indulging in some drinks and Japanese cuisine. The small club often gets busy, so arrive early or expect a wait. But that's OK — many reviewers say that the wait (and small cover charge on most weekends) is well worth it.

It's a dimly lit, small and cozy atmosphere that is great for live jazz. Jared S. notes on Yelp, "One of the coolest places I've ever been to. Delicious cuisine, impeccable drinks and tremendous jazz playing."

2. Kove

San Diego, CA

Company website | Yelp page

There are lots of craft breweries out there… but have you tried a craft brewery that specializes in sparkling hard tea? That's Kove Brewing's unique spin; it's a brewery with taprooms that the CEO describes as a "artist curation space with botanicals weaved in." Come taste the yerba mate, an herbal tea that's popular in South America but still making its way to the States.

All drinks are brewed on site, and the menu features an exotic lineup of flavors that the staff will happily describe and educate you on. They use real cane sugar in the brewing process and manually steep their tea. Food is not served here, though there is an eatery next door.

3. Chiba Bar

Colorado Springs, CO

Company website | Yelp page

For more than five years, Chiba Bar has brought a little slice of Tokyo brought to the western U.S. It's a darkened space with many televisions playing Tokyo-centric culture, including anime and Japanese rock music, with a side of 1980s new-wave. On the menu are a wide range of imaginative cocktails and Japanese treats, such as pickled cucumbers, rice bowls, and a pork and chicken gyoza.

Yelp users love the place, noting that, "Chiba bar is by far the coolest spot I've been to in Colorado Springs. The ambiance here is just the right mix of Japanese subculture."

4. The Neighbors Retail & Cocktail

Orlando, FL

Company website | Yelp page

It doesn't get more Florida than this. At Neighbors Retail & Cocktail, you'll find a retail store that carries items from more than 50 small businesses based in the Sunshine State. You'll also find a bar that serves cocktails named after different Orlando neighborhoods in Orlando, and the only beer available is from local Florida breweries.

This unique spot opened in 2021, with the goal of giving locals — and tourists, of course — the perfect spot to shop, dine, and invest in the local community. It's located upstairs at the East End Market. In addition to the retail shopping and drinks, you'll find a kitchen that serves experimental dishes. As stated on the store's website, they aim to create "a comfortable environment that pushes boundaries while giving everyone a chance."

5. Elevated Taproom

Phoenix, AZ

Company website | Yelp page

Why is this place called Elevated? Three reasons. First, it's the taproom for Elevated Seltzer, which calls itself the nation's first independent hard seltzer-only operation. Second, it has a solid airplane theme going on. And third, everything it makes is quality — or in a word, elevated.

As Nicole writes on Yelp, "We're obsessed with this hidden gem! The owners are so personable and passionate about their food. This is NOT your typical bar food. Just like the name says, it's elevated."

They have a full bar and feature several of their original hard seltzers. Patrons also overwhelmingly approve of their hard slushes.

Related: How to Expand Your Small Business Locally

6. Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden

Austin, TX

Company website | Yelp page

This unique hangout has a campground feel with a laid-back vibe. There is both indoor and outdoor seating for patrons to enjoy coffee, beer, cocktails, food and more. They even feature alcohol-infused coffee.

Cosmic prides itself on hospitality and ambience, which they hope fosters connection and meaningful conversation among the natural great outdoors. The business is very environmentally friendly. They have won awards for their sustainability efforts and chicken coop composting system. They also have biological ponds and sustainable water features.

7. Ko'olau Distillery

Kailua, HI

Company website | Yelp page

Towards the end of Eric Dill's 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corp, he started to think: When he retires from the military, he's going to distill whiskey and surf. When it came time to do just that, he partnered with another Marine vet, Ian Brooks, to create Ko'olau Distillery.

The distillery was founded in 2018, and uses water that's been filtered through layers of volcanic rock on Windward side of O'ahu. You'll have to get away from the typical tourist destinations on Oahu to find this gem — but the trip is worth it, fans say. They do tours and tastings which receive high marks on Yelp.

8. The Setting

Washington, DC

Company website | Yelp page

The Setting advertises itself as the only private event space on the west end of D.C. And when you book it, you're in for a treat.

The Setting offers cocktails and a menu that changes by the season. Every dish and cocktail has a story that can be told by staff, and you can take a tour of the venue's kitchen (and take home a gift in the process). Reviewers on Yelp rave about the experience. As Austin G. notes, "Superior food and drink push boundaries. They make you fall in love with things you don't like."

9. The Gramophone

St. Louis, MO

Company website | Yelp page

This establishment began as a concert club, hosting more than 1,500 shows between 2008 and 2015. But it has since become one of the best craft beer bars and sandwich spots in town.

The Gramophone offers over 30 sandwich combos alone, using all kinds of bread, including baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough, swirl rye, brioche and Texas toast. The kitchen, serving both soups and sandwiches, stays open until 1:00 a.m. They have a large craft beer selection, both in the form of taps and cans and bottles. And although the location is no longer a concert club, they do still do occasionally host live music.

10. Flora

Beaverton, OR

Company website | Yelp page

Flora will introduce patrons to some of the most unique cocktails they will ever experience. This is a reservation-only cocktail bar, and their drinks are described as "botanical, refreshing, playful, and colorful."

The space has a speakeasy vibe. It's located upstairs from another establishment, and the door is unmarked and locked. Inside feels intimate and intriguing, thanks to dimmed lighting and wallpaper that depicts mythical creatures and crystal glassware. Food is not served, though snacks are available.

Related: 10 Ways for Small Businesses to Dominate Local Markets

11. Mahogany Jazz Hall

New Orleans, LA

Company website | Yelp page

New Orleans has no shortage of jazz clubs, but Mahogany Jazz Hall keeps ranking at the top. Perhaps that's due to its consistency: It hosts two live, traditional jazz shows every night, seven nights per week. (Check the schedule for who's on and when!) And while you're enjoying the music, you can also enjoy their highly rated drinks and overall ambience.

Despite being a music club, reviewers note that it's not too loud here. It's located just off Bourbon Street, which makes it easy for out of towners to find.

12. The Silver Stamp

Las Vegas, NV

Company website | Yelp page

Open every day until 1:00 a.m. and located just north of the Las Vegas Strip, The Silver Stamp is a beer bar with throwback vibes. It's with wood paneling, a wall of beer cans, oil landscapes and vintage beer advertisements. In essence, it looks like a basement — or something out of In That '70s Show.

The location recently won a "Bar of the Year" award from Eater Las Vegas and Desert Companion. Some Yelp reviews call this the best tap selection in downtown Las Vegas. The food menu is like a throwback of sorts too: It offer two classic beer bar foods — pickled eggs and hot dogs.

13. Somerset

Cincinnati, OH

Company website | Yelp page

The hallmarks of Somerset include a great cocktail and beer menu, a food truck so you never need to leave the bar to get a snack, and a great outdoor space that even includes heaters for the colder months.

The cocktail menu here changes by season, and reviewers note that the outdoor patio has a greenhouse vibe to it. Karly M. on Yelp writes, "The atmosphere is beautiful. All the decor is unique. It makes you feel as if you're not in the middle of Cincinnati."

14. Phocific Standard Time (PST)

Seattle, WA

Company website | Yelp page

Founded by two sisters, this Vietnamese-style cocktail bar and restaurant in Seattle is truly one of a kind. It serves up cocktails using native Vietnamese and Japanese ingredients. Plus, the menu features unique items such as pho cups, cua dip and native pastries.

Eater Seattle recently listed Phocific as one of the 14 essential Seattle Bars.

15. Trace Brewing

Pittsburgh, PA

Company website | Yelp page

With new craft breweries opening everywhere over the last several years, it can be hard to stand out from the pack. Trace Brewing in the Steel City has done just that.

Highly rated beer, indoor and outdoor seating, food trucks on site, and coffee to keep you going — what more could a craft beer lover want or need? The brewery thrives with its hop-forward beers, especially IPAs. Check out Prism & Progress, Science Rules, Double Hemisphere and Tessellated Paradise if you like hoppy beers.

Given the brewery's popularity, reviewers note that it's a good idea to get a reservation if you're going on the weekends.

Related: How Your Small Business Can Become a Hyperlocal Event Sponsor

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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