Food & Drink

The 9 Best Bars for Winter Drinking in Pittsburgh

Published On 01/13/2016 Published On 01/13/2016
Courtesy of Andy’s Wine Bar

Winter in Pittsburgh is one of the harshest out there this side of Minnesota. But these nine bars are so suited for winter drinking, you might actually be imparted with the gumption to leave your weekend hibernation chamber, aka your bed of a thousand blankets, to cheer on the Penguins on the South Side. With everything from a centuries-old hot cocktail to coffee “corrected” (with liquor, duh), these bars will get you to stop longing for drinks-on-the-patio weather.

Best winter cocktail

Glogg at The Summit

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Mt. Washington

This winter, the Summit is serving up Glogg, a traditional warm, mulled wine cocktail that’s been curing the winter blues for centuries. It’s a heady brew made with cabernet, port, brandy, tea, simple syrup, cloves, cardamom, orange, cinnamon, raisins, and almonds. Bartenders scoop this cocktail from a steaming vat into clear glass mugs, and top the drink with slivered almonds.

Best fireplace

Andys Wine Bar

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The futuristic fireplace in the lobby at the Fairmont hotel isn’t just beautiful, it’s emanating warmth, too. Bar service is available in the lobby from the hotel’s Andys Wine Bar, which has plenty of seasonal cocktails on the menu. Try the smoked cherry rye cocktail, a mixture of Templeton rye, Carpano Antica, and house-made cherry almond bitters.

Courtesy of Franktuary

Best trivia night


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Tuesday Trivia Night at Franktuary is so intensely engaging you might even forget about the frigid temperatures outside. There’s a draft beer special, tough trivia (sometimes with quirky categories like 'worst movies by good actors'), and hot dogs, of course.


Best place to forget about winter


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It’s hard to think about the chill outside when you’re sweaty from dancing so hard at Brillobox. Twice a month, the Pandemic Dance Party brings what it accurately describes as “drinking, dancing, stomping, yelling.” It’s a dance party fusion of tropical bass, Bhangra, Bollywood, Balkan beats, and much more. 

Primanti Bros.

Best to watch winter sports

Primanti Bros. 

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South Side

If you can’t sit rinkside, the South Side location of this quintessential Pittsburgh bar-restaurant is the place to watch the Penguins play. Any time Pittsburgh teams are on the TV, the South Side turns into a cross-town cheering section, and Primanti Bros. is at the center of it all. 

Best hot drink

Caffè corretto at The Commoner

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The caffè corretto (or espresso corretto) pairs a shot of steaming espresso with booze (think sambuca or Cynar). Literally "corrected coffee" in Italian, the drink is a potent after dinner pick-me-up. 

Flickr/Grant Lindsay

Coziest vibe

Monterey Pub

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North Side

With antique, carved mahogany booths and a friendly neighborhood vibe, this Irish pub on the North Side is the epitome of cozy. Guinness and Smithwick's are on tap, along with several other beers on draft and in bottles. What’s more, the atmosphere is relaxed enough for casual clothes -- wear that three-sizes-too-big knit sweater and jeans with no worries about the dress code.


Best dark beer list

Hough’s Taproom & Brewpub

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Among its 73 rotating taps, Hough’s is serving Lagunitas Cappuccino stout and Ommegang Lovely, Dark and Deep during the winter season. Left Hand Milk stout nitro, another dark beer favorite, is on draft year-round. 

Bar you can wear your ugliest sweater to

Sonny's Tavern

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Wear that ugly sweater with pride at Sonny’s Tavern. The more sequins, tassels, and pom-poms, the better. Order a PBR Pounder, and compare sartorial choices with your Millennial brethren. 

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Rossilynne S. Culgan is a Pittsburgh native who is always cold, and, thus, is grateful for Glogg. Follow her: @rossilynne

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1. The Summit 200 Shiloh St, Pittsburgh, PA 15211 (Mount Washington)

Boasting skyline views and craft cocktails, The Summit is worth the the steep drive or incline ride to the top of Mount Washington. And once the drinks are flowing, pick out a few of its board games to pass the time while enjoying terrific views of the city. During the week, The Summit will host Bingo or Name That Tune nights. For a truly beautiful cocktail experience, order the signature cocktail Leora, made with blackberry, basil, and strawberry vodka.

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2. Andy's Wine Bar 510 Market St, Pittsburgh, PA (Cultural District)

"Art and Industry" meet at this trendy downtown hang out that offers an extensive list of wine by the glass and plenty of tasty shareable dishes (pierogies, chips and dip, and charcuterie). Local jazz musicians also perform Wednesday through Saturday with no cover charge.

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3. Franktuary 3810 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Lower Lawrenceville)

You won't find any mystery meat at this hot doggery -- just natural-cased dogs, tofu dogs, and other meatless delights. Vegan chili, lentil sloppy Joes, and roasted grain sausage are all on the menu here, assuring even the meat-free among us can indulge in some American classics. Franktuary is also cooking up a small Sunday brunch menu featuring a waffle sandwich -- sausage and egg nestled between thick waffles -- that is truly a revelation.

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4. Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Bloomfield)

This bar and club takes its name from one of Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol's favorite subject matter, so its interior is sufficiently arty and the clientele cool and hip. Come for the happy hour deals on tasty vegetarian grub and cocktails, stay for the DJ dance parties and live indie electronica.

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5. Primanti Brothers 46 18th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (Strip District)

Primanti Brothers sandwiches are as iconic as Pittsburgh food comes, and the caloric empire all began with a humble food stop slinging sandwiches to truckers in the 1930s. The must-order Almost Famous Sandwich has equally humble beginnings: when a food transporter feared his potatoes may have been ruined by the cold, he asked the kitchen to fry some up to test them. Customers quickly asked for the fried potatoes inside their sandwiches, and a tradition was born: the addition of a pile of french fries to sliced tomatoes, tart coleslaw and your choice of meat (from pastrami to roast beef) between thick slices of Italian bread. Come hungry, because these things are gigantic. And you want to leave room for the wings, cheese-drenched fries and beer, don't you? This flagship location, marked with an old-time neon sign, has been the deli's home since 1933, long before the brand expanded up and down the East Coast.

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6. The Commoner 458 Strawberry Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Central Business District)

Located within Downtown's Hotel Monaco, The Commoner gives an attention to American fare and cocktails that is less common than the name suggests. Comfort dishes are given an elegant treatment, as low dishes like mac & cheese get gussied up by higher brow ingredients like braised pork belly, fusilli, buttered breadcrumbs, smoked peas and brie cream. Even the humble cocktail names betray their more refined appeal: The Farmer's Son is garnished with flowers, and made up of a blend of gin, Pimm's, lemon sorbet, pickle brine and an IPA float -- hardly something a typical peasant farmhand would be sipping.

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7. Monterey Pub 1227 Monterey St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (Northside)

This is a Northside neighborhood treasure with a cozy bar and tiny booths that make you long to be a regular. The Irish fare, often marinated in Guinness, goes down easy. Tender, shredded Guinness beef is featured in several menu items, but is best served under a heap of mashed potatoes and cheese in the shepherd’s pie.

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8. Hough's Taproom & Brewpub 563 Greenfield Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15207 (Greenfield)

This brewpub has 73 rotating drafts and more than 150 bottles, with a focus on domestic microbrews and featuring a different brewery every month. Recent features included Southern Tier, Great Lakes, and Brooklyn Brewery.

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9. Sonny's Tavern 630 S Millvale Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 (Bloomfield)

You'll have found Sonny's Tavern when you see the mural of cats drinking PBR on the outside. And on the inside, you’ll find plenty of humans drinking 24oz cans of PBR (no cats, though).



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