When I started writing this feature two years and 99 columns ago, I wondered: "How the hell am I going to find something to write a column about every week?" For starters, Embury — the bar that brought craft cocktails to Pittsburgh — had just closed.
But as it happens, Pittsburgh wasn't just a city with strong traditions: Its drinks scene was on the verge of rapid expansion. There would be plenty of stories to tell.
The Embury space itself was one of them. Even when four dudes from Greensburg promised to bring something dynamic to the site, it was hard to imagine that one day Bar Marco would become the force that it is today.
And Bar Marco wasn't alone in filling the void: Tender, Harvard & Highland and Butterjoint are just a few post-Embury craft-cocktail establishments. Acacia, the spawn of Embury, now provides welcome respite on hectic East Carson Street.
I'm impressed by the scope of talent and passion I've found in Pittsburgh's craft-brewing communities. One of the first stories I wrote featured Three Rivers Underground Brewers, and I was floored by the diversity of homebrew. East End Brewery has expanded into a larger space, and there are now numerous local micro- and nanobreweries on tap at Pittsburgh bars. It's also easier than ever to find a six-pack store where you can assemble a take-home collection of craft beer.
And although Pittsburgh's wine culture still lags behind other cities, Spoon, Cure and Dish Osteria now have certified experts to help you select a bottle of vino. For a pre- or post-meal drink, The Allegheny Wine Mixer curates an affordable selection of lesser-known wines, plus terrific beer and cocktails.
I'm looking forward to what's on the horizon. The Bar Marco boys are set to open The Livermore, in East Liberty. Downtown will soon be awash in bourbon when The Butcher and The Rye opens. And there's a rum maker ready to join Wigle Whiskey in the Strip's burgeoning distillery district.
There are many more stories to come. Cheers.