IF WE’RE FEELING WHISKEY

VAULT

First: There’s a wall of whiskey. Second: It’s in an actual vault, in the basement of a former bank on Fayetteville’s Center Street. Third: It’s the brainchild of Modus Studio’s Chris Baribeau—who, like, really loves whiskey—and two of his bourbonophile buddies, so the space is swank in a way that only an architect can deliver. Four: It’s not just whiskey. The barman, Shaun Traxler, is mixing up some of the tip-toppest of craft cocktails in the state. Five … Hell, just save us a seat at the bar. (112 W. Center St., Suite B001, Fayetteville; facebook.com/vaultbarfayetteville)


IF WE WANT TO DRINK LIKE IT’S 1905

OHIO CLUB

It’s an overused adage, “if these walls could talk.” But man, if those walls could talk at the Ohio Club in downtown Hot Springs, they’d tell stories about folks with names like Sammy Davis Jr., Mae West and Al Capone—tales of backroom gambling, bathtub gin and Babe Ruth-occupied bar stools. But even 113 years after opening its Central Avenue doors, the Ohio Club’s still got plenty to talk about: namely, nightly live music and an onion-ring-topped burger that’s as big as your face. (336 Central Ave., Hot Springs; theohioclub.com)


IF WE WANT TO CHAT UP A CERTIFIED SOMMELIER

PETIT & KEET

You’ve watched Somm, right? The Netflix docuseries about the rigors and rigmarole of becoming a master sommelier? Petit & Keet’s Susie Long may not be a master, per se—there are only 274 master sommeliers in the world—but she is a certified sommelier and one of the few working in the state. Which means: She’s someone you need to know, or at least someone you need to know when you’re after a wine-pairing light-bulb moment. Put yourself in her capable hands when dining at this west Little Rock bistro, or just pull up a seat at her bar—either way, your mind (and palate!) will be blown. (1620 Market St., Little Rock; petitandkeet.com)

 

Agasi 7

IF WE’RE ONLY DRINKING FOR THE BAR FOOD

FLYWAY BREWING CO.

Usually, when we ask for a “menu” at a local brewery, we’re after blonde ales and IPAs. And while, yes, they’ve got a rotating menu of solid small-batch brews at North Little Rock’s Flyway Brewing Co., we’re more curious about the food.“How are those lavender-salt pretzels?” we ask. “The duck confit nachos? The gumbo fries? The bacon-wrapped quail-breast sliders?!” And upon hearing the answer, we order one of each, please and thanks. (314 Maple St., North Little Rock; flywaybrewing.com)


IF WE WANT TO BE AMONG FRIENDS

CRUSH WINE BAR

Look. We crush on Crush for plenty of reasons, but it’s not just because, when asked about the rotating craft beer selection, they’ll ask if you’d like to take a look in the fridge. It’s not because that patio is one of the great hidden gems in Argenta (and also a great place to see the likes of Raising Arizona and Aliens projected on the big screen). It’s not just because, on certain nights, you may walk by and see the place still lit up, still aglow and thumping with a dance party. We love it because, well, it’s a great neighborhood bar—and it’s one we’re proud to call our own. (318 N. Main St., North Little Rock; “Crush Wine Bar” on Facebook)


IF WE WANT SOME VINO WITH A VIEW

AGASI 7

If you’ve ever driven down Third Street at juuuust the right moment in the early evening and seen the sunset reflected and multiplied hundreds of times over on the fragmented facades of downtown Little Rock’s high-rises, you’ve probably wondered, Where can I pull over and grab a drink? The answer is Agasi 7, the city’s only rooftop watering hole (and it just so happens to be nestled among those aforementioned kaleidoscopic high-rises). And while sunset is magical, you won’t be disappointed with a nightcap, either, especially once the heaters and fire pits come on. (322 Rock St., Little Rock; facebook.com/agasi7littlerock)


Maxine’s Tap Room

IF WE WANT A TASTE OF FAYETTEVILLE HISTORY

MAXINE’S TAP ROOM

You likely came to Maxine’s in college, elbowing your way up to Maxine Miller’s 50-foot bar for a Solo cup of Bud Light before queuing up some Merle Haggard on the jukebox. And while that Maxine’s is gone, the craft-cocktail bar filling in today has kept its dive-bar roots very much intact. It’s still in the family, for one, and the stool Maxine sat on every night for five decades has assumed a place of honor on the wall behind the bar. The place is still dark and cozy, just the way Maxine liked it (though you no longer have to worry about your shoes sticking to the floor). The main difference? You can now sip some of the finest cocktails in the state while waiting for “Okie From Muskogee” to come on. (107 N. Block Ave., Fayetteville; facebook.com/maxines.taproom)


IF IT’S DATE NIGHT

THE UNDERCROFT

Since Bentonville began its renaissance some sevenish years ago, there’ve been plenty of new spots that’ve made us think, Wait, are we still in Northwest Arkansas? But this place—a darkly sophisticated drinking den tucked beneath the brightly beautiful The Preacher’s Son off the square—might be the most transportive of the bunch. Pull up a leather stool or slip into one of the velvet banquettes, and not only is it not Northwest Arkansas, it’s not 2018. It’s 1963, and this is Manhattan, and your date is Don Draper. Or at least he is tonight. (2o1 NW A St., Bentonville; undercroftbar.com)


IF WE WANT A FARM-TO-PINT BREW

PRESTONROSE FARM AND BREWING CO.

They take their farm-to-table-slash-glass pretttttty literally at Paris’ Prestonrose Farm and Brewing Co. Those Hatch peppers in the recent Jenny’s El Hefe release? Raised within spitting distance of where it’s being poured. Those heirloom veggies on the table of the weekly rotating beer farm menu (baby winter squash gratin! stuffed heritage pork loin!)? Same deal. Suffice to say, pretty well anything you’ll order at Mike and Liz Preston’s very-necessary-pilgrimage destination was either grown under your nose or somewhere not far from it. (201 St. Louis Valley Road, Paris; facebook.com/PrestonroseFarm)


The Undercroft

IF WE WANT TO NERD OUT ON CLASSIC COCKTAILS

BIG ORANGE • TRIO’S

Most of what we know about the craft of cocktailing came from the folks working the stick at either Big Orange-Midtown or Trio’s, two eateries that, quite unexpectedly, are the top places in Little Rock to find an old-fashioned Old Fashioned or any other time-honored tipple. Not that they’re only about the classics, though: You’ll find inventive offerings on both menus, mixed up with ingredients that’ll have you asking, What’s that? And what can I do with it at home?, because you’ll know you’ve just met your cocktail senseis. (bigorange.com; triosrestaurant.com)


IF WE WANT SOME “SPIRITS”

FOUR QUARTER BAR

The storefront housing Argenta’s Four Quarter Bar has lived several lives: It was a dirt-floored brothel (aka Miss Birdie’s), a mortuary, a Prohibition-era speakeasy, a coffee shop and a nightclub before becoming the tin-ceilinged music venue we know and love today. And though the location’s days as Miss Birdie’s were fleeting, they sure left an impression—in particular, that rather unseemly murder of one of Miss Birdie’s girls, a young Anastasia, by a lovesick patron. These days, it seems Anastasia’s been too stubborn to move on, and folks have reported doors opening of their own accord, lights flickering willy-nilly and cold spots at the foot of the stairs. Maybe you’ll get spooked from your perch at the bar; maybe not. Either way, get a burger. (415 Main St., North Little Rock; fourquarterbar.com)


IF WE WANT A REALLY GOOD WINE BY THE GLASS

ONE ELEVEN AT THE CAPITAL

It’s quite a thing to behold, the bar at One Eleven. It’s topped with zinc—surely a nod to chef Joël Antunes’ native France—and backed by case after case of back-lit bottles: wine, whiskey, various aperitifs, digestifs … but mostly wine. You might not notice at first, what with all the bling-bling beauty on display, but tucked into the left-hand corner, there’s what appears to be a simple wine fridge. It’s not. It’s a contraption called a Cruvinet, and it keeps uncorked wine fresh for weeks, eliminating waste. That might not sound too sexy now, but it most certainly will once you learn that you can snag some prettttty glorious by-the-glass wines—some dating back to the early aughts—because of it. (111 W. Markham St., Little Rock; oneelevenatthecapital.com)


One Eleven at The Capital

IF WE’VE GOT FRIENDS IN TOWN

SOUTH ON MAIN

We know you’ve had this kind of visitor—the kind who’s “never been to Arkansas” and just wants to have “a real Southern experience!” If you’re in Little Rock, this one’s easy: Take your visitor to the Oxford American-affiliated South on Main, especially if there’s live music (and certainly if that music is coming out of frequent performer Rodney Block’s trumpet). You’ll give ’em a triple whammy of Southernness: remoulade-smeared fried oysters, Sazeracs that’d make NOLA proud and sweet, sweet music. (1304 S. Main St., Little Rock; southonmain.com)


IF WE WANNA GET COZY

THE STONE HOUSE

It’s not just a clever name. This Eureka Springs wine bar is precisely what it purports to be: a two-story stone house (circa late 1800s!) snuggled up to the bluff that backs Main Street. Inside, it’s all stone and cherry wood and low-ceilinged coziness; outside, it’s all stone and bistro lights, the perfect patio on which to enjoy a flight of grower champagnes and a brie-laden cheese plate. Not a wino? Beer lovers will find plenty to whet their whistle, though those in search of a martini might do better down the block at Local Flavor (another of our favorite Eureka spots). (89 S. Main St., Eureka Springs; search “The Stone House” on Facebook)


IF WE’RE READY TO THROWDOWN ON SOME CORNHOLE

CREEKSIDE TAPROOM

You know your state’s craft-brew scene has reached a critical mass when folks are angling to open native-beer bars. That’s exactly what Keith and Rhonda Rutledge did with their Siloam Springs taproom, where 21 taps feature a rotating lineup of brews from 17 Natural State breweries (there’s Arkansas wine on the menu, too, just FYI). But it’s not just about the beer: It’s also about the taproom’s lovely Sager Creek-side lawn—and it’s definitely about the cornhole. They take it seriously here, with double-elimination tourneys and eight-week competitive leagues. But even if you’re not serious, we’re sure they’ll still let you practice your Half Paducah Pancakes. (100-2 E. Alpine St., Siloam Springs; creeksidetaproom.com)


The Holler

IF WE WANT TO SLIDE SOME BISCUITS

THE HOLLER

A “third place” if there ever was one, this newish Bentonville spot at the booming 8th Street Market is equal parts coffee bar, meet-up spot and late-night hang— say nothing of its menu chock-full of mac-and-cheese burgers, chimichurri wings, queso-smothered nachos and local craft beer on tap. But the real draw, if we’re being honest, is the three-lane shuffleboard court, which has day-drinking destination all over it. Bring friends. Come thirsty. (801 SE Eighth St., Bentonville; alocalhangout.com)


IF IT’S MUSIC WE’RE AFTER

WHITE WATER TAVERN

Maybe it’s the 40-year history, maybe it’s the cheap drinks. But if we had to guess, we’d say it’s probably the consistent and consistently fantastic concerts that have packed the house at this Little Rock dive night after night. From CeDell Davis and Levon Helm to Amasa Hines and Adam Faucett, if they’ve made a name for themselves in the Arkansas music scene, you can probably bet they’ve played the White Water Tavern a time or two. We’re still kicking ourselves for missing that Leon Bridges show back in 2015. (2500 W. Seventh St., Little Rock; whitewatertavern.com)


IF WE’RE READY TO RUM

LA TERRAZA RUM & LOUNGE

We thought we weren’t “rum people” until we ordered a mojito on the tree-shaded patio of this Kavanaugh Boulevard bistro, and then BLAMMO! Rum people. (We also became empanada and arepa people that night, BTW.) It’ll probably happen to you, too—there’s just something about that deck, the small plates and those sweetly sour sips that’ll get a hold on you. Be sure to follow La Terraza’s Facebook for upcoming events—rum people are apparently a whole lot of fun and love mojito theme nights. (3000 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock; search “La Terraza Rum & Lounge” on Facebook)