Why settle for a rum and Coke when you can have rum with housemade cola? Why drink a martini when you can do as 007 would and imbibe on a spytini? Why eat a regular sloppy Joe when there's such a thing as a bourbon sloppy joe? Why be normal when you can be weird? Weird is good. Especially when it's watering holes we're talking about. The kind serving all of the above oddities and then some. Like taking shape after a barrel of whiskey or setting up shop in what was once a funeral home. Since the quirkier the bar, the drunker you're likelier to get, we've rounded up five guaranteed to wet your whistle.
San Diego, CA
If only chemistry in high school would have been anything like Zymology 21, we'd have actually learned a thing or two about science and fermentation. The mad-scientist themed bar, equipped with a collection of test tubes and beaker's lining, is more like Dexter's drinking Laboratory, if Dexter would of had such a thing. From the very potent Cotton Candy Cosmo (a martini bigger than your head made with house-made cotton candy vodka and strawberry shrubs) all the way to the nonalcoholic (if you're into that sort of thing) Siphon Coffee (vapor-pressured brewed coffee through a double-chambered pot) and even dinner and brunch (think grilled eggs and green lamb), Zymology has hoards of molecular tricks up its sleeve.
Los Angeles, CA
At Idle Hour, you're literally drinking out of a barrel. No, seriously – the historic and iconic establishment is shaped like a whiskey-aging barrel (nice touch) and was originally built as a tap room in 1941 when there seemed to be a trend in novelty architecture having edifices replicate whatever is it they were selling, or in this case pouring (how's that for quirky?). As for what you'll be drinking, think bourbon. Lots and lots of bourbon. But also: cocktails on tap, and a pretty solid craft beer list. All of which will pair fairly well with the Idle Sloppy Joe, which also has, wait for it…bourbon. Yep. Dreams really do come true.
It doesn't get any weirder than a bar housed inside the basement of a former funeral home turned pizza parlor. Say hello to Tough Luck Club. Hiding beneath Reilly Craft Pizza + Drink, this isn't your typical pizza place basement bar but exactly what you'd expect of a craft pizza place craft basement bar. What that means? Cola is housemade. So is mesquite root beer. And a lemon-lime soda dubbed green river. But all of this and artisanal boozy drinks isn't what makes Tough Luck Club an idiosyncratic abode to imbibe; it's the vegan pisco sour, with a soy-based egg-white substitute, that best warrants a good reason for drinking spirits amongst spirits.
If a spy-themed speakeasy is what you're searching for, a spy-themed speakeasy is what you'll get. For half a century and counting, this clandestine Milwaukee drinkery and eatery has been attracting wannabe undercover agents of all kinds looking to put on their best James Bond impression. Your experience, depending on the night you visit, will go a little something like this: you'll start by acting out some type of ridiculous charade in order to enter, only to then be tasked with a mission. Should you choose to accept it (and you should), you'll be taken through the fun house where surprises (like the world's largest mechanical puzzle and a secret booth) await you at every turn. Thirsty? Order the Bond inspired and shaken not stirred Great Spytini.
Tableside punch service? Check. Fish-feeding? Definite check. Cheese fondue? Check, check. A secret beer cellar enterable only via a bookcase? We must be talking about Chicago's weird and wonderful and insert other adjectives that define quirky watering hole Punch House here. Maritime retro is the feel of the 70's inspired basement bar that is anchored by a center aquarium (because obviously). Yes, there are fish inside. No, you don't get to feed them. That's the job of the bartenders who do so every night when the clock strike midnight. You do, however, get to drink like a fish and partake in the nightly ritual punch toast. Simply choose from one of their dozen ever-rotating varieties that have been engineered to accommodate the harmony of punch’s five tenets: strong, weak, bitter, sour, and sweet. Punch's up!