A new year offers a clean slate. We decide what to leave in the past and what to strive for going forward. 2015 brimmed with things we would all like to leave behind, all far more important than beer and cocktails. But since no one wants me to attempt to sort out Syria or make sense of Trump, I will instead offer a glance at the state of drinking in Pittsburgh.
This was the year that everyone realized that Pittsburgh has a food scene. Though some national notices took the “Wow, this place isn’t so crummy after all” approach, everyone from Eater to The New York Times ate and drank their way around the city. The year was a flurry of activity. New bars, restaurants and breweries opened at a breakneck pace, and established ones continued to innovate and experiment with abandon.
The most successful openings addressed a specific need. Lawrenceville was lacking a late-night lounge until the Goldmark debuted in November, offering a clever beer-and-shot program and lots of killer DJs. Troy Hill’s Scratch Food & Beverage brought new life to the North Side scene with craft cocktails at neighborhood prices. Hotel bars leapt forward with sophisticated programs at Hotel Monaco, Hotel Indigo and the brand-new Ace Hotel.
I doubt the wave will subside anytime soon. Recently I was lamenting the city’s lack of a proper tiki bar. Days later, Hidden Harbor announced it would be bringing craft mai tais and zombies to Squirrel Hill this month.
Pittsburghers can be a touch defensive when anything threatens the authenticity of our city. I suggest we leave that attitude in 2015 and embrace the changes. The new needn’t replace the old — Pittsburgh can be a city of “ands” rather than “ors.” You can get a world-class cocktail at a stylish Downtown destination and a pitcher of Iron City at your neighborhood dive. Cheers to a year filled with opportunity, innovation and some damn fine drinks.