Journalist and historian Jonathan Foreman once asked Winston Churchill what he believed made him so successful. Churchill famously attributed his success to economy of effort when he said: “Never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.”
Until someone opens a bar where one can drink fully reclined, there will be nothing to equal a lounge for chilling and drinking like an adult. If lounges aren’t your thing yet, they will be one day, youngling, because standing is for suckers. So, submitted for your approval, for all that lounges offer and more, I humbly recommend Mercury Lounge.
There are a few places in town that make you feel like a big-city, upscale lounger. Mercury (located just three blocks south of Dodge on 16th Street) is one. Mercury reminds me that Omaha’s got something for everyone. There are sports bars with chicken wings and a dozen TVs on every other block, but occasionally, a person should prefer to dress up a tad and sip a whiskey.
Mercury was hopping the night I went in. I assumed it was the dinner and drinks crowd for the Orpheum Theater, but it was apparently just a regular Whiskey Wednesday, with half-price pours all night. Lucky for me, since I just missed the 4-to-6-p.m. happy hour.
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Not surprisingly, the service was excellent.
The atmosphere was clean and modern with a vintage feel — like being an extra in old movie, except in brilliant Technicolor. Ceiling fans, comfortable furniture and slightly ironic rap music rained down from overhead speakers.
Mercury has an amazing selection of food, whiskey, wine and spirits, where the Omaha cool can host their own Mercuralia.
I was lucky to get a bar seat. I enjoy watching bartenders work with the efficiency of the fleet-footed messenger of the gods, whether simply pouring a shot or making a Wildcat of passion fruit, aperol, fresh orange and bitters. Delicious.
Not many bars can make their ice a selling point, but Mercury has a Clinebell ice machine with single-direction freezing to produce flawless 300-pounds blocks of ice. They use a chainsaw, hacksaw and a chisel to carve ice cubes for your drinks. According to my friendly bartender, Sara, this is the only Clinebell between Denver and Minneapolis.
After that delicious Wildcat, a Granddaddy Low (Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon, amaretto and amaro) made for a great nightcap. If you dare drink more, plan on having a designated driver.
There are seven canned beers, notably Zywiec and Dogfish Head IPA, as well as a good selection of wines kept in the vault once belonging to Brodkey’s Jewelry. Classic.
Mercury continued to pack them in to three large lounge areas. There are also eight tables outside.
Sara informed me of an upcoming drink special series tentatively called “Astounding Tales,” featuring superhero-inspired drinks on a menu drawn by Omaha artist Tim Mayer. I’ll be back for that. Hope to see you there.
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The Crescent Roadhouse Bar and Grill in Crescent, Iowa, is a dive bar with a good kitchen. It's largely a domestics-in-the-bottle kind of place. Blue Moon, Lagunitas and Corona are about as hip as you’re gonna get. Click here to read more.
There is likely room in your schedule somewhere for The Cabin’s happy hours. They last from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here to read more.
Pour Craft Beer & Spirits has two dozen brews on tap from local favorites like La Vista’s Kros Strain Brewing, Omaha’s Brickway Brewery & Distillery and fellow Lincoln newbie Cosmic Eye Brewing. Click here to read more.
Lincoln’s Pub sits where Dixie Quicks used to in Council Bluffs' historic 100 Block. It is turning into a worthy successor. Click here to read more.
Cosmic Eye Brewing opened in east Lincoln fall of 2018. Its location makes it unique for a couple of reasons — for one, it’s the only Lincoln brewery in a former laser tag place, and the only brewery in the neighborhood. Click here to read more.
Pat and Mike’s has Chiefs games, cheap tacos and arcade classics like “Ms. Pacman” and “Frogger.” Click here to read more.
As nice as it might be to go to a bar where “everybody knows your name,” occasionally it’s pleasant to go to a bar where no one knows who you are, what you do or where you’re from. The District offers that. Click here to read more.
Florence's New Frontier is a great dive. It is quaint, friendly, out of the way and time-worn, but clean and comfortable enough to exceed one’s most reasonably tempered expectations. Click here to read more.
Barley's, a saloon-style bar in Council Bluffs, offers 30 brews on tap, a friendly staff and an "epic" amount of parking. Click here to read more.
Not all dives are cut from the same cloth. George’s Tavern in Blair hits all the right notes for socializing on the DL and has what discriminating tastes aspire to, if not actually settle for, in a dive. Click here to read more.
Green Flash has some traditional brewpub offerings like wings, of course. But, in general, the eatery specializes in slightly more sophisticated eats, with more fresh vegetables and fewer fried foods. Click here to read more.
The Spillway in Council Bluffs is always family-friendly. There is an ATM, pool, darts, 11 TVs, free Wi-Fi and — the best idea ever — a Breathalyzer by the door reminding you to stay safe and never drive buzzed. Click here to read more.
You can enjoy drinking with strangers at Rathskeller Bier Haus, including a few real Germans. Wall art consists of European beer signs, a boar’s head and a reproduction of Berlin Wall graffiti. The back garden will still nurture you once warm weather returns. Click here to read more.
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