Practically as long as bars have been open, they’ve offered a host of games to engage patrons (and, of course, keep them ordering more beverages). While many spots have pool tables or dartboards, we’ve found several around the country that go well beyond that, boasting an impressive array of entertainments. Now that’s our kind of drinking game!
16-Bit Bar & Arcade, 254 South 4th Street, Columbus, Ohio, 614 222 1616:
Love old-school video games? This ‘80s-obsessed hangout has dozens of arcade classics from Frogger to Ms. Pac Man, all set to free play. The cocktails are familiar but are named after stars of the day like the Emilio Estevez (a Margarita) and the Burt Reynolds (an Old Fashioned). Come by on Mondays for Mortal Kombat tournaments and on Wednesdays for film screenings.
What to Drink: Don Johnson (Bacardi Rum, sugar, lime, Champagne)
Floyd, 131 Atlantic Avenue, New York, 718 858 5810:
Though bocce is usually played outside, this Brooklyn watering hole has brought the Italian sport inside. Right in the middle of the establishment is a 40-foot court made from clay. While you wait for your turn, peruse its long list of bourbons and snack on some beer cheese spread—it’s the specialty of the house.
What to Drink: Bourbon
Headquarters Beercade, 2833 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, 773 665 5660:
A good number of arcade bars have opened in recent years, but this Windy City joint arguably serves the most creative cocktails of any of them. The tipples are made with a wide variety of house-infused spirits, including Cinnamon Toast Crunch rye whiskey and pink peppercorn gin. Headquarters boasts three dozen games from the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s, and what’s more, it expanded this past summer, adding a 7,000-square-foot pinball room with 20 machines.
What to Drink: Fuzz Kill (peach- and habanero-infused Gosling’s Rum, coconut water, lime, peach reduction, house-made smoked pecan sugar)
You might associate shuffleboard with Florida retirement homes and cruise ships, but this brand-new club is trying to change all that. The Royal Palms offers industrial-chic décor, 10 lanes and a food-truck docking station that’ll feature a rotating assortment of food vendors. As befits the sport’s warm-weather roots, the bar boasts a menu of tropical drinks served in Mason jars.
What to Drink: Mae Hall (spiced rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, Angostura Bitters)
Smash Putt, 140 Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, Ore.:
This ain’t your granddaddy’s putt-putt. The indoor “mega miniature golf apocalypse” (pictured above) just relocated to Portland from Seattle, and its course is packed with mechanical contraptions of every description. And there’s a full bar to keep you satiated as you play. You’ll need to buy tickets in advance to get onto the greens, but you can always enjoy a drink and watch a round. Smash Putt will only be open for a few more weeks in Portland, but it’ll be popping up again soon elsewhere on the West Coast.
What to Drink: Ginger Zelenko (ginger vodka, apple cider)
The Spare Room, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, 323 769 7296:
Tucked away in a corner of the opulent Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, this lounge serves some of Los Angeles’ finest drinks but maintains a cozy rec-room atmosphere. There’s a selection of card and board games, plus two full-length bowling lanes—rental of which includes the use of hand-made bowling shoes by Esquivel.
What to Drink: The Smoking Pistola (Del Maguey Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, lime, pineapple syrup, cilantro)
Spin Standard, 550 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, 213 439 3065:
You may know Susan Sarandon as the Oscar-winning star of films like Dead Man Walking and Thelma & Louise, but did you know that she also co-owns a chain of ping-pong clubs? There are Spin locations in New York, Milwaukee, Toronto and Dubai, but the downtown-LA edition, in the hip Standard Hotel, includes three bars in addition to its 11 custom-designed table-tennis tables.
What to Drink: Rowdy Root Beer (Root, Cocchi Americano, elderflower liqueur, lemon, ginger beer)
For more guides to the world’s best bars, check our our Bar Guide.