SOME PEOPLE CALL IT “APRES SKI” – RENO TAHOE JUST CALLS IT DRINKING
Reno Tahoe offers a slew of unpretentious bars, lounges, dives and diners for skiers and boarders to get their drink on
RENO, Nev. (Winter 2009-10) — Celebrate on-slope conquests with Holly Go-Lightly – just one of the sassy signature cocktails available only in Reno. After appeasing their inner powder hound at one of 18 ski resorts located within 90 minutes of Reno, visitors can feed their inner party animal at one of the numerous bars, lounges, dives, parlors and clubs all in easy stumbling distance – or at least within a $20 cab ride – of downtown.
Just a few blocks north of the new Aces Ball Park – the Freight House District – is the laid-back Lincoln Lounge. Modeled after a speakeasy in the Prohibition era, the lounge is dark and funky with trippy paintings of Abe Lincoln in the main bar and red and metallic gold brocade wallpaper in a side bar. A lack of signage keeps crowds to a minimum and gives the place a secretive kind of vibe. With its expansive patio and many weekly specials, the Lincoln Lounge easily makes the list of favorite thirst parlors for experienced locals – and visitors in the know. Super thirsty patrons stop in on Tuesdays when six-packs of PBR or Olympia go for just $7.
Another Reno staple is Louie’s Basque Corner. Delicious Basque faire served family-style in copious amounts – think mouthwatering lamb stew, oxtails and sweetbreads. You know you’re in for a good night when the first item placed on your table is a carafe of bottomless wine. And while the food is great, the Picon Punch is even better. Concocted from Amer Picon (a bitter orange spirit), grenadine, soda water, brandy and topped with lemon peel, you only need one to get that warm and fuzzy feeling.
Strega is one of Reno’s newer additions to the downtown bar scene, named after the owner’s childhood nickname, “Strega Piccola.” Located in a converted 1912 bungalow-style house on South Arlington, the place has an artsy vibe that still feels like home. Start that feeling on Strega’s front porch, a perfect place to sit and chat in the cooler evening air while enjoying a Greyhound with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.
Around the corner from Strega on Reno’s “Cal Ave” is St. James Infirmary. Named after an American folksong of anonymous origin, "St. James Infirmary Blues" is about a sailor who loses his life to prostitutes and booze. A neighborhood bar with a diverse crowd, St. James is dark, moody, hip, yet unpretentious. White leatherette booths line the perimeter and one large wall is entirely plastered with black and white photos of 1950-60s personalities. A giant white neon sign that says “Society” in scripty letters is a piece of Reno nostalgia and the old Society dry cleaners. The joint also features a black and white photo booth, cushy barstools and a padded barfront (makes marathon sessions at the bar easy on the knees), a large rooftop patio and house drinks are unusual but oh-so-tasty. Try the Moscow Mule, Holly Go-Lightly and the Jefferson.
South of downtown, check out the Chapel Tavern with its cozy couches, fresh flowers, pool table and artwork. Don’t miss the tavern’s distinctive cocktails like the Blood and Sand, a 1920s concoction named after a Rudolph Valentino film, uses the smokiness of Scotch to balance the sweetness of cherry liqueur or a Juniper Smash, which showcases fresh juniper berries and gin.
Also on South Virginia is the Polo Lounge, which offers “drinks with sophistication and humor,” according to owner Frank Perez, who has spent his life in the nightclub business. This is a classic lounge singer’s haven. The free music – ranging from jazz to light rock – is offered five nights a week. Don’t miss the tasty complimentary hors d’oeuvres that Frank’s wife whips up daily.
After all that drinking, Reno locals know there is really just one option for 3 a.m. gut bomb – The Little Nugget’s Awful Awful. The Awful Awful, so named because it’s awful big and awful good, is a perfectly greasy cheeseburger the size of your head accompanied by the biggest pile of French fries you’ve ever seen. Don’t miss the funky alley access through the back or the front of the casino – right by the Reno arch.
In recent years Reno has taken simple barhopping a step further with quirky imbibing activities. Consider the Reno Beer Crawl held monthly on the fourth Saturday or the popular Wine Walk, every third Saturday of the month along the Truckee River and neighboring streets in downtown Reno. Too tame? Check out the annual Santa Crawl when hundreds of Santas descend on downtown Reno to enjoy Yuletide cheer. Or, explore your alter ego in the Superhero Pub Crawl.
With so many options for nightlife in Reno Tahoe the only challenge skiers and riders may face is mustering up the energy to hit the slopes after an exciting night on the town. The action and excitement happening is unparallel to any other ski and snowboard destination in the country.
Reno Tahoe offers visitors a year round, 24-hour destination—a play all day and night atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. Reno Tahoe boasts the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America, with a 30-foot average snow pack and 22,000 acres of skiable terrain.
For more information about Reno Tahoe, call 800-FOR-RENO (800-367-7366) or visit http://www.VisitRenoTahoe.com.