Drinking off the radar 

City checks out four bars that you may have never noticed


We all have our favorite watering hole, our version of Cheers, where everyone knows our name and that we like our martinis with vodka, very cold, and very dirty. We are creatures of habit, but sometimes we crave someplace new, a place where we can see how the other half lives, but still feel welcome. City Newspaper checked out a collection of bars that are outside of the mainstream, outside of the common areas that you may frequent, but that are definitely worth visiting and pulling up a bar stool.

Carroll's Bar and Restaurant (1768 East Main Street) is an Irish pub off the beaten path but worth a visit if you're a fan of Guinness, darts, and a jukebox with everything from traditional Irish music to the Grateful Dead. Sidle up to the bar, order a beer and a shot, and you'll soon find y ourself in conversation with one of the many loyal regulars. One of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (if you can get near the place), they usually have live musicians playing traditional Irish music which inspires plenty of sing-alongs.

A bartender serves up a cold pint at Avenue Pub. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • A bartender serves up a cold pint at Avenue Pub.

Just a few blocks from Carroll's, you'll find Jack Ryan's Tavern (825 Atlantic Avenue), a bar that multiple sources have disclosed has the best jukebox in town. If that's not reason enough to visit, here's another one — they have a Skee-Ball machine in the warmer months. One of the trends in bar culture that I wish would come to Rochester is the Skee-Ball bar, like Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg. I'm horrible at

click to enlarge Bar patron Heather Saffer at Carroll'S Bar and Restaurant. - FILE PHOTO
  • Bar patron Heather Saffer at Carroll'S Bar and Restaurant.
bowling (the only other drinking-accompanied sport I could think of), but put me in front of a Skee-Ball machine with a beer in my hand and, well, I'm probably still not that good, but I'm having fun doing it. Jack Ryan's also has an impressive selection of craft beer, whiskey and vodka — and they have a bartender named Doc. What else do you need?

As I write this, it's 20 degrees outside so it's hard to picture those blissful days of summer, floating in a boat on Lake Ontario, forgetting to put on sunscreen and working on a nice beer buzz. If you're in Webster, you should drop anchor at The Bayside Pub (279 Lake Road). The Bayside has been a summertime staple for years, with plenty of outdoor seating, barbeque, and live music happening consistently. Even in the winter, regulars make their way there in snowmobiles — that is dedication.

click to enlarge The Bayside Pub has been A summertime staple for years. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • The Bayside Pub has been A summertime staple for years.

The Avenue Pub (522 Monroe Avenue) has been open and slinging cocktails to the LGBT community and beyond since the 70's. The tin ceiling and small, Tiffany-style lamps on the bar set the ideal scene to park yourself on a bar stool, order a drink and stay awhile. Darts and a pool table are available in the back room and their food menu is starting to gain its own reputation. Wander in when Carolyn is behind the bar and have her tell you stories of when she used to bartend at Bullwinkle's, a gone but never forgotten dive on Lake Avenue.

Along with this tiny selection of bars off the beaten path, also keep an eye out for these pubs worth the short trip away from downtown: Norton's Pub (1730 North Goodman Street), Irondequoit's Reunion Inn (4565 Culver Road), Titus Tavern (690 Titus Avenue) and Murph's Irondequoit Pub (705 Titus Avenue).

Where do you like to drink? Leave a comment below this article online at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

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