He is, as they say, in-the-know. Not about irrelevant junk like who’s going to the playoffs or which Lakewood bar currently has the best happy hour. He is way beyond that. The Aficionado wants only the finest things in life: the best wine, the richest cigar and the most secluded table. It’s 15-year-old Scotch, not shots; a blazing jazz trio over a garage band. He wants luxury and will happily pay for it without batting an eye.
Characteristics: Balvenie straight up, money clip holding a wad of $20s and $50s, owns the Benz parked out front.
There are music-thumping, draft beer-pouring bars, and then there’s Johnny’s Downtown — where you won’t find a single brew on tap. Sure, you can choose from a number of bottled imports, but don’t you deserve even better? This is the place to go when you want to feel like Ingrid Bergman or Humphrey Bogart. With single-rosebud vases on the table, champagne coolers on the bar and men in suits shaking off the work day, Johnny’s oozes class. Soak in the vibe by ordering a single-malt scotch, single-barrel bourbon or high-end vodka. Pièce de Résistance: Classic piano tunes played by a dapper fellow in a tux. Make a request, sing along. The Cost: Martinis start at $7, wine at $6 The Customer: Lawyers, businesspeople and sophisticated social networkers 1406 W. Sixth St., Cleveland; (216) 623-0055
Nighttown is a jazz club, supper club and Irish tavern awash in ’40s-era nostalgia. The nightspot attracts sophisticates of all ages, from senior couples to families to after-work drinkers to, later at night, affluent professionals in their 30s. The jazz is the best in town, including top national acts such as the Godfathers of Groove and the Count Basie Orchestra. Huge vintage posters, including vivid war-bond ads, decorate the dining room, mounted close together in a 19th-century European salon style. The blend of class and culture makes it easy for romance to bloom over a table for two. And the dark, intimate bar near the door, like the shadowy, trench-coated figure in the restaurant’s logo, evokes intrigue. Pièce de Résistance: A wild, almost impressionistic Viktor Schreckengost print of a sax, trumpet and French horn given to owner Brendan Ring by Schreckengost himself. The Cost: Pub food $10-$15, cover charge averages about $20 The Customer: Music-lovers and mellow, cosmopolitan diners 12387
Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights;
McNulty’s Bier Markt
Hundreds of glasses in various shapes and sizes are stacked behind the bar — awaiting the perfect pairing to deliver high-end brews from Bier Markt’s voluminous menu to your lips. This Ohio City spot is dark and sleek with lots of seating, whether you want to hang out at the bar or hide away in a corner. A deep beer list includes 22 flavors on tap and many Belgian selections (the bar has wine and martini lists too). Not into top-shelf brew? You can always get a 16-ounce Pabst for $1. Pièce de Résistance: Ninety-nine Belgian brews always available The Cost: Prices are always reasonable, but the everyday 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. happy hour is a steal with $3 pints of Hoegaarden, Stella Artois and Warsteiner, along with free pizza on Fridays. The Customer: Beer connoisseurs, friends tipping a few back, couples on the town 1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland;
Velvet Tango Room
The bar has thrived for a decade by treating every patron as if they’ve just slipped into the bar at the Chateau Marmot. It’s truly an anomaly on the Cleveland cityscape: A hole-in-the-wall luxury suite with incredibly expensive, esoteric drinks served slowly by an impeccably knowledgeable staff that rarely changes and the same owner who’s been there since day one. The female bartenders wear cocktail dresses and stilettos, the men don vests and ties. The patrons just sit back and relish the pampering (and promise their wallets they’ll bag their lunch tomorrow). Pièce de Résistance: We’ll put it at a tie between the $14 Ernest Hemingway daiquiri (not a hint of strawberry anywhere) and the table accoutrements: two stoppered-bottles, one with aromatic bitters, the other with all-natural grenadine. The Cost: Drinks start around $14 (beer’s a little less) and shoot up past the $200 pour of “Richard” Hennessy. The Customer: Dressed-up Clevelanders 2095 Columbus Ave., Cleveland;
It’s an East Side refrain: “Meet me at Parnell’s after the show.” So close, so convenient, so convivial. Parnell’s, a wee five steps down from the Cedar Lee Theater, is the de facto gathering spot for indie-flick fans to meet for a post-show gabfest. With plenty of room to breathe — and now breathe smoke-free — and some of the freest-flowing pints of ale and lager, Parnell’s provides the perfect perch from which to cogitate on the meaning behind the movie. Plus, pub keeper Declan Synnott fries up a mean batch of fish and chips. What’s on TV: Soccer, rugby, a little football and basketball The Cost: A fine pint o’ Guinness or Smithwick’s is $4.50. The Customer: A cross-section of Cleveland Heights residents 2167 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights; (216) 321-3469
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
A bona fide Cleveland landmark, Great Lakes Brewing Co. is all wood — bar, floor, tables — and home-grown beer. The bright, cheery interior beckons friends to enjoy a pint together during the winter (the establishment’s summer patio along Market Avenue is equally welcoming) and the kitchen serves up great burgers and bar food. But the beer, which is made in the nearby brewery, is the star of the show. Eight varieties are always on tap and you can enjoy seasonal pours you can’t buy in six-packs, as well as fan favorites such as Dortmunder Gold Lager and Burning River Pale Ale. What’s on TV: Sports The Cost: Brewer’s Barley Pretzel appetizer ($8) is a good choice when slugging down $3.50 pints. The Customer: Clevelanders of all ages congregate at this casual brewpub. Crowds swell on weekends and prior to downtown sporting events. 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland (Ohio City); greatlakesbrewing.com
Lakewood’s oldest watering hole was opened in 1934 by Art Carver, a cheery Irishman — hence the name “Merry Art’s.” The apostrophe has disappeared, but the neighborhood friendliness of this cozy Irish-themed pub remains. Merry Arts is two joined rooms; the shot-and-a-beer regulars populate the original side, with hardwood floors and bar, while the younger bottled beer and highball crowd gravitates to the room with large flat-screen TVs, booths and couches around the fireplace. Everyone seems to know everyone here. Tom Hanks hung out here when the lad was with Great Lakes Theater Festival. He told David Letterman on-air that the pub had the best tacos he’s ever had (or so says the blarney on the menu). What’s on TV: Sports The Cost: Bottled beer is $1.50 and up, mixed drinks start at $3. The Customer: Daytime hours, mid-20s to late 80s; evenings 21 to 40s 15607 1/2 Detroit Road, Lakewood; (216) 226-4080
Pickwick & Frolic
Pickwick & Frolic is a sprawling, multilevel restaurant/comedy club/lounge/cabaret. Once you orient yourself in the labyrinth, you’ll realize that this cleverly designed destination can be as big or small as your crew wants it to be. Downstairs is Kevin’s Martini Bar, a 1950s art deco ménage offering more than 20 martinis and 15 decadent appetizers. Downstairs is also where you’ll find Hilarities Fourth Street Theatre, a 420-seat comedy club that draws top national acts. Upstairs is the main restaurant and club. Although this nightspot draws a young, hip, professional crowd, it cleared out after 11 p.m. on the Saturday night we attended … the martinis are that good. What’s on TV: Forget TV. There’s live comedy in the basement. The Cost: Martinis run $7 to $8, import beers $4 to $5. The Customer: The young, hip professional who has some cash to spend on better-than-average cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. 2035 E. Fourth St., Cleveland; pickwickandfrolic.com
The Public House
An unpretentious pub in the truest sense, The Public House is Irish all the way. It’s the place to go for a perfectly poured Guinness, live Irish rock and festive Celtic sports. The dress is casual: everything from boots to suits, the owners like to say. This place is all about hanging with your crew in a low-stress, high-fun environment. Even if your gang isn’t all Gaelic, everyone is sure to have a good time at a place where the bouncers are friendly, the bathrooms are tidy and everyone is more interested in catching up with their friends than scamming on unattended hotties. What’s on TV: Sports The Cost: A five-spot will get you pretty far. The Customer: All ages, styles and sorts of folks hang here. 17219 Lorain Road, Cleveland (Kamm’s Corners); (216) 252-6608
The Corner Alley
Every stereotype about bowling alleys evaporates here; even the shoes are fresh and clean. The only similarity between The Corner Alley and your corner alley is its role as a destination spot for a group of friends looking for a good time. The posh newcomer to East Fourth features a bar, a VIP section with billiards table and enough flatscreen TVs to create an ADD heaven. Waitresses will bring you beverages lane-side so you needn’t steal your attention away from making fun of your buddy’s bowling stance. What’s on TV: Music videos, your crappy bowling score The Cost: An average martini runs about $10. The Customer: Guys in jeans, coming from a game, and gals in cocktail dresses, coming from the theater 402 Euclid Ave., Cleveland; thecorneralley.com
"The Dancing Queen"
The Warehouse District
Yes, you can navigate a successful dancing bar crawl through West Sixth. Try our three-step approach:
1. Have your cab (you are taking a cab, right?) drop you at the Velvet Dog. A staple of the Cleveland club scene, it’s a good start to the night. With four levels of Top 40 dance music, including a rooftop patio, and cheap vodka and appetizers during Friday happy hours, the Dog helps get your mojo, and your feet, movin’.
2. Once you’re feeling ready to groove, cruise across the street to Spy Bar. The interactive dance floor with text messaging screens lets you showcase your best one-liners to the whole bar without leaving your dance partner’s side. The house music is usually pretty high quality and the dance floor can get packed quickly, so get there early (another incentive for coming early is the cover price, which typically increases as the night goes on.)
3. Skip on over to Traffic to end your night with options: Upstairs, you’ll find a throbbing mass of scantily clad dancers grinding to ’80s and ’90s dance-club music; downstairs there’s a DJ who specializes in international music. KISS 96.5 broadcasts live every Friday, and the club often features novelty nights, including foam parties and Chippendale dancers. Dress to impress. The Music: Top 40 and house-techno beats rule. The Cost: Bring cash for covers, mid-price drinks, the coat check, the bathroom attendant and the cab ride home. The Customer: 20-somethings, roving bachelor and bachelorette parties and those odd couples who like to go out and party together. West Sixth Street, Cleveland; velvetdogcleveland.com, spycleveland.com, trafficnightclub.com
Bellbottoms & Saddle Ridge
Murals of Devo, Billy Idol and Kiss line the walls in the downstairs bar at Bellbottoms, while the disco ball inspires the crowd to ignite its inner dancing queen. Even sitting at the bar or shooting pool, patrons can’t help but bust a move. Two doors down, the scene changes to mechanical bulls and state-license-plate decor at Saddle Ridge, a bar populated by hard-core line dancers and city slickers who don’t know much about boot scootin’ but want to give it a try. The Music: ’70s hits such as “Brick House” and “Disco Inferno” at Bell Bottoms; Brooks & Dunn and the occasional Justin Timberlake riff at Saddle Ridge The Cost: Moderately priced bottled beers The Customer: Patrons of all walks of life with one common ailment: the uncontrollable urge to dance 5100 Pearl Road, Parma;
Who says Sundays are for rest? That’s when the party crowd heads to Twist, a kicked-back club in the heart of Clifton Boulevard’s gay village. Start the fun at noon: Build your own libation at the Bloody Mary bar. Then jump on the raised stage and shake your bod with the rest of the fun-loving, diverse crowd. One Sunday a month you can get your groove on to techno beats, as 10 DJs spin tunes for 10 hours. Anything goes at Twist. The Music: House, techno The Cost: $3 well drinks, $3 domestic beers The Customer: Gay, funky, free-spirited 11633 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland; (216) 221-2333
If you need a break from the Cleveland club scene, Thursday’s Lounge in Akron is worth the drive. Throw down a 16-ounce Pabst and get on the dance floor, as DJ Mario Nemr spins alternative and Indie dance music on Thursday nights, featuring plenty of requests and bands such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Clash and a slew of the underplayed artists on your iPod that you’re always raving about. Tuesday is ’80s night, although with the hacky-sack circle outside on the smokers’ patio, it always feels like late-’90s night. The Music: Indie rock, alternative and a speck of punk The Cost: Cheap. $3 for mixed drinks, beers in the $2 range The Customer: Unassuming hipsters, who, despite sporting Converse All-Stars rather than sleek, black, heeled shoes, are just as anxious to dance as anybody else. 306 E. Exchange St., Akron; thursdayslounge.com
Major Hoopple’s Riverbed Café
It’s a neighborhood joint without the traditional neighborhood. Find the spot equidistant from the West Bank of the Flats to the north, the Warehouse District to the east, Tremont to the south and Ohio City to the west, and you’ll find yourself washing down an Innerbelt Burger (“four lanes of bacon paved with cheese”) with a shot and a beer at Hoopple’s. Regulars have been punching in as if it were a second job for years, exchanging rounds of brews with the young professionals and alternative types living nearby. Positioned alongside the Cuyahoga River, astonishing views of downtown, Tower City and Jacobs Field are occasionally eclipsed by freighters squeezing under the Columbus Avenue lift bridge. Hoopple’s displays no insecurity about its orphaned status among the surrounding trendier neighborhoods. The customers don’t either; they just know what they like. Regulars Know: To hit the patio for Indians games. The owners project the game onto the bridge truss. The Cost: $12 for a shot, beer and a delicious burger with fries The Customer: Unpretentious, lively, no posers 1930 Columbus Road, Cleveland (The Flats/Ohio City);
Jerman’s Café, aka Mitzi’s
“We are not a dive bar,” stresses Susie Myers, daughter of legendary (and recently deceased) Mitzi Jerman. One has to agree with her. In fact, even “bar” seems too callous a word to describe the scene at Jerman’s. “Living room with a liquor license” is more like it. Since opening a year shy of a century ago, Jerman’s has served as the social club for musicians, lawyers, artists and blue-collar barflies. It’s one of the only bars in town where bottles of Straub, Genesee and Pabst don’t come with a sidecar of irony. Susie and George Myers have a knack for making everyone feel like extended family. Heck, this living room even comes with a pet: Roscoe the petulant pooch. Regulars Know: The jukebox is the biggest sleeper hit in town The Cost: A shot and a beer will set you back $6. The Customer: Lawyers, outlaws and rockers 3840 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland; (216) 361-8771
Little Bar & Grille
When you need a break from West Sixth, take a turn down a deserted alley, where a beer waits with your name on it. At Johnny’s Little Bar, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been or what your story is; it just matters that you have good taste — for beer and burgers. (You can count on quality here, since it’s the kid brother of Johnny’s Bistro.) With an atmosphere reminiscent of an English pub, movies or sports on the TV and conversational bartenders, you’ll undoubtedly feel inclined to set up camp and stay awhile. Regulars Know: The kitchen stays open till 2 a.m. The Cost: Flying Dog draft beer for $4.50 a glass The Customer: Indie kids and young professionals 614 Frankfort Ave., Cleveland; (216) 861-2166
The Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
There are nights when the Beachland feels like it has reinvented the year 1966, when a band beats out the old surf-rock or garage-rock rhythms and chords. Even if you weren’t alive back then, they can convince you that the simplest music is the best. Other nights, the old Croatian dance hall or its next-door tavern echo with the sad laments of alt-country steel guitars. The next night, it’s a rockabilly revival or a punk-rock band from the ’80s or the ’90s or the ’00s. The ballroom, with its pastoral old-country murals, still looks ready for a giant polka night. The tavern, with its beer wall-hangings, looks like a tough-guy bar from another era, recreated for nostalgia’s sake, but it’s not — the Croats left it like that when they sold it in the late ’90s. Regulars Know: Blatz, Schlitz and Genesee Cream Ale are all $2. The Cost: Cover ranges from $5 to $30 The Customer: Scruffy guys in vintage T-shirts, go-go-booted dancers, rockabilly types 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland (Collinwood); beachlandballroom.com
Brennan’s Colony, the eclectic anchor of the Cedar-Lee strip’s south end, is the chameleon of the nightlife scene. It is a comfortable neighborhood joint, tame enough for three generations of family to break bread together before the late-night crowd arrives. When it does, you’ll find college kids and hip East Siders hanging out there, too. And it’s the place that everyone returns to on holiday breaks, as we learned last Thanksgiving eve when we fought for (and jealously guarded) a seat at the bar. Even the food satisfies whatever you’re craving. It runs the gamut from the pedestrian Buffalo wings to the unexpected Chilean sea bass. Now that’s versatile. Regulars Know: The holidays linger till St. Patrick’s Day — that’s when they finally take down the rooftop Christmas tree. Slainte! The Cost: $20 will get you a hearty meal and a drink or two The Customer: East Siders from 8 to 88. 2299 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights; (216) 371-1010
Bars are like people: Their personalities come across in their looks, the place they choose to call home, their friends, even their grooming habits. So if the Treehouse were a person, we might describe him (yes, it would be male) as laid-back, attractive, down-to-earth and charming. The faux tree in the center of the bar, wide draft beer selection and lots of woodwork say, “I’ve got character, but I’m comfortable with just about anyone.” The is true of the clientele. The Treehouse tends to be fairly male-dominated, with a decent mix of good-looking people of both sexes in a wide age range. It’s a relaxed place for striking up conversation in a non-meat-market environment. In the summer, the back patio is usually packed with 20- and 30-somethings listening to a band or unwinding after a round of rec football (Saturdays in summer and fall are prime time for finding gals and guys alike in sweats and at their least pretentious.) Guy-to-Girl Ratio: 70/30 The Cost: $3 drafts to $25 shots of aged Scotch The Customer: Artsy Tremonters and young professionals escaping the downtown scene 820 College Ave., Cleveland (Tremont);
Around the Corner & West End Tavern
The West Side singles scene flocks to these two aptly named bars on the Lakewood/River border. With three-bars-in-one at Around the Corner (two inside and a large patio bar in back), prowlers from 21 to 41 know they’ll have ample opportunities to meet a new face. Groups of friends show up, but at least half of them are there scoping the scene for lingering glances. A few doors down at the West End, the atmosphere stays chill. Friends chat casually over drinks and, while they’re still scanning the crowd for other singles, they’re not quite as obvious about it. The mellowness of West End complemented with the zealous crowd at Around the Corner almost guarantees — no matter how outgoing you are — if you’re single, someone will notice. Whether you accept that free drink, well, that’s up to you. Guy-to-Girl Ratio:At West End, it’s 50/50; girls on the prowl have the edge at ATC, where the ratio is more like 60/40. The Cost: The norm — around $3 for Bud Light or Coors Light The Customer: Single older professionals and young Lakewood barflies Around the Corner, 18616 Detroit Ave., Lakewood; atccafe.com. West End Tavern, 18514 Detroit Ave., Lakewood; (216) 521-7684
“Women feel very comfortable here, because this place is all about conversation,” says Budapest Blonde co-owner Ilona Simon. “There’s no TVs and no loud music.” Pockets of people kibitz at the bar, at the counter along the side wall or at the intimate tables in the front and back. Local theater-set designer Russ Borski decorated with surreal picture frames and chandeliers that seem suspended from the ceiling. This martini bar is usually packed on the weekends; credit the bartenders, who often act as messengers in the soap-opera drama we call life: “Did a young lady come in asking for me?” we overheard one anxious Romeo questioning the barkeep. Needless to say, the fellow earned his tip. Guy-to-Girl Ratio: 60/40 The Cost: Extensive wine and $9 martini list The Customer: All ages of classy folks; plebeians go next door to The Winking Lizard 6901 Rockside Road, Independence; budapestblonde.com
Scott Brotherton, everyone’s favorite lounge lizard, wows the crowd with his Rat Pack karaoke show twice a month in The Cellar, Saucy Bistro’s basement jazz club. With a voice as smooth as a Bombay Sapphire martini, Brotherton croons one ballad after another, while couples in their 40s, 50s and beyond slow-dance and foxtrot between tables. The Cellar’s Parisian rathskellerlike ambiance is classy, unpretentious and fun. Saucy Bistro is also one-third of Westlake’s “Viagara Triangle,” where older singles (and naughty marrieds) who’ve been around the block a few times meet people to take another jog around the corner. Guy-to-Girl Ratio: 50/50 The Cost: Martinis are $7 and up The Customer: Late 30s and up 20672 Center Ridge Road, Westlake;
"The Sports Guy"
Thirst & Ten
Having a surplus of flat-screen TVs (16) is a start. And subscribing to satellite TV is most certainly a prerequisite — T&T’s got football covered with the NFL package and college football, plus March Madness. But without enthusiastic fans, a sports bar might just as well be your living room. Every day is Game Day at Thirst & Ten, a joint that lives and dies by the won-loss column. Browns, Cavs, Indians and Buckeyes games are never missed, but this place is so sports obsessed, curling’s on the tube if it’s the only live action going. Any apparel is permitted — so long as the colors are wine and gold, orange and brown, or scarlet and grey. Steelers fans — your sports bar is about 130 miles east.
Beers on Tap: Six The Cost: Happy hour domestics are $1 to $2. The Customer: Cleveland’s vociferous sports fans 15299 Sheldon Road, Middleburg Heights; (216) 362-8000
The Upper Deck Sports Café
The bossman rode your rump more than usual last week. The wife’s on you about cleaning the garage. But it’s Saturday, and you’ve got the Cavs at The Q and Ohio State in Columbus. So you “run errands” and plunk down on one of 32 stools in front of the 75-foot-long bar at the Upper Deck. Decision time. Where should you sit so one eyeball catches LeBron while the other stays glued to the Buckeyes? Later, try your hand at video poker or shoot pool with your “errand-running” buddies. Every day should be Saturday.
Beers on Tap: 16 The Cost: $1.50 “beer of the month” selections, daily drink specials The Customer: Casually dressed male sports fans in their 40s and the occasional female. College kids come out with the live music. 375 W. Bagley Road, Berea;
Cleats Club Seat Grille
Hearts are broken here — but not in the way you think. At the Strongsville location, resilient Browns fans huddle around the bar and its 26 TV screens. Cheers, highs-fives and mostly groans (along with a few choice words) will make you feel like you’re not alone. Signs and photos pay homage to the greats (Jim Brown) and the glory days. Alas, this is not one of those times. Still, fans come out, order a beer and watch, hoping today is the day.
Beers on Tap: 15 The Cost: $1.50 domestics during games The Customer: Die-hard fans in orange and brown, jeans and the occasional dawg mask Seven Northeast Ohio locations; cleatswings.com
Harpo’s Sports Café
This place is all about the stats: 90 TVs, 17 wing flavors, 82 bottled beers, 37 drafts. Every seat is great — whether it’s at the bar or in the playpen (the big dining area in the middle of the multilevel bar). If you didn’t know better, you might think you were at the game, until you notice the abundance of toys (Golden Tee, anyone?) that’ll keep you busy during commercial breaks. Beers on Tap: 37 The Cost: $3.50 beer-of-the-week, $5.50 martini-of-the-week The Customer: Families, groups of friends and individuals looking for a game 5777 Smith Road, Brook Park & 19654 W. 130th St., Strongsville; goharpos.com
806 Martini & Wine Bar
The sexiest thing about 806 Martini & Wine Bar isn’t its
location — although it doesn’t hurt that the place is in a house just off Tremont’s beaten path, not a usual suspect in the neighborhood crawl. And it’s not the atmosphere — although the fireplace, the intimate seating areas and the eclectic mix of furniture (Victorian and black leather) conjure a quiet, sophisticated mood uncommon in the Cleveland bar scene. The sexiest thing about 806 is simply that it’s simple. No draft beer. No TV. No touch screens, no dancing, no wings or deep-fried anything. When you come here, it’s because you want to gaze into somebody’s eyes over a glass of really good Cabernet. That’s it. Sexy. Get Cuddly: On the couch in the small side room off the main area The Cost: A martini or decent glass of wine costs $8 to $10. The Customer: Couples, hipsters and men hoping for a single lady to walk in 806 Literary Ave., Cleveland (Tremont); 806martinibar.com
Even in the middle of winter, it’s easy for Sergio’s Saravá to conjure Latin romance. Under the easy strains of Brazilian jazz, Ian greets you at the bar with a smile. Your order: caipirinhas, of course. You watch Ian grind sugar into lime and pour the Brazilian cachaça over it. It’s not long befor you take off to explore the intimate space, with pocket areas hidden under the enticing vibe of contemporary Art Deco and understated lighting. You glance at your watch. Inexplicably, bar and restaurant close at midnight. No matter. As all lovers know, Brazilian romance begins then. Get Cuddly: Near the fireplace The Cost: A lot of exotic $7 drinks, as well as a bar menu with similar prices The Customer: Well-dressed sophisticates out for a worldly evening 13225 Shaker Square, Cleveland;
Don’t expect a classic-love-affair brand of romance at this cozy Tremont joint. With its deep-red walls, bright abstract art and cool kids with funky accessories, Lava provides an optimal setting to take your flirtation to a cerebral level. Move closer to him on the couch while you dazzle with your views on existentialism. Sit by the upstairs faux-fireplace and ponder the merits of Hillary vs. Rudy in ’08. You’re comfortable yet intriguing — just like Lava Lounge. Get Cuddly: The intimate tables upstairs are excellent for a mini-makeout session. The Cost: Happy-hour martinis for $5 from 5 to 8 p.m. (normally start at $8) The Customer: Eclectic trendsetters, fashionistas out for happy hour 1307 Auburn Ave., Cleveland (Tremont); coolplacestoeat.com
La Cave du Vin
Candles coax seductive colors from the art on the brick walls. Young bartenders, belying their age with a wealth of knowledge, serve hors d’oeuvres and recommend one of the 100 wines on its list to the 20 tables scattered throughout the cellar. La Cave du Vin trades in what many bars avoid: expensive wines, microbrew beers and peaceful ambience, without excessive haughtiness. Stir serene surroundings with a high volume of quality quaffs and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an amorous evening on the town. Get Cuddly: Through the main room, the tables in far side of the bar seems even darker and sexier. The Cost: Wine is $6 up to $3,000 for a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, beers are $3.50 and up. The Customer: Cultured 20- and 30-somethings 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights;