Perhaps you’ve enjoyed a boozy board-game night at a friend’s home, but have you ever been to an entire bar dedicated to tabletop games? These four watering holes not only bring whisky and cocktails to the table, but also an impressive selection of board games. You can savor a bourbon on the rocks while playing Battleship, or sip a cocktail while immersed in a round of chess.
ST. LOUIS’S BOARD GAME HAVEN
Pieces, St. Louis
With between 900 and 1,000 board games, it’s nearly impossible to run out of options at Pieces. “This number fluctuates because we are constantly buying new games or pulling them off the shelves to repair and refurbish them,” says bar manager Theresa Schafer. Fan-favorite games include the strategy game Wingspan, and Medium, a party game, according to Schafer. Pieces carries 16 different whiskies, like Redemption rye ($7), Lagavulin 16 year old ($12), and a host of cocktails. Sip on a Jack and a Ginger ($7.50)—Jack Daniel’s whiskey, ginger beer, and lemon juice—which Schafer says is the bar’s most popular whiskey cocktail, while trying your hand at tile-placement game Ginnykub.
PLAY IN THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
Hex&Co., New York City
Hex&Co. has locations in Manhattan’s Upper West and Upper East Side, and the latter serves liquor. The bar features a collection of over 1,000 rotating games, with more than 500 available to play at any given time, according to co-owner Greg May. Popular games include Settlers of Catan and Codenames, which you can play while sipping one of the bar’s 10 whiskies. Options include Aberlour 12 year old, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and Laphroaig 10 year old, priced from $9 to $11 a pour. Try Hex&Co.’s most popular whisky cocktail, the Back Room Deal ($14), which May describes as “Aberlour 12 year old and Noilly Pratt sweet vermouth, a dash of both Angostura bitters and Dashfire orange bitters, a touch of Laphroaig 10 year old, and a few drops of a saline solution to wake the whole thing up.” Sip this magical cocktail with a game to match it, Magic the Gathering.
GAMES AND COCKTAILS IN OHIO
Great Oaks Tavern, Wadsworth, Ohio
Great Oaks Tavern boasts over 600 board games, and that collection is constantly growing, according to co-owner Alex Nassos. “We do have some rare and out-of-print games, but the most popular will always be the classics,” Nassos adds. The bar has a whisky list of 13 rotating bottles, including Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection ($25) and Blackened ($8). Like the whiskies, the cocktails rotate seasonally, and have included such hits as a Black Tea Old Fashioned ($11), which consists of bourbon, black tea simple syrup, and lemon. Since classic games are the most popular at Great Oaks, go the classic route and enjoy a simple pour like Maker’s Mark ($8) and a game of Scrabble.
ALL OCCASION FUN IN PHILLY
Queen & Rook Café, Philadelphia
Boasting more than 1,300 board games, Queen & Rook is a fun spot for groups, families, and date nights. “[We have] everything from family games and classics, like Don’t Break the Ice, or chess, to modern games like Everdell or Wingspan,” says co-owner Edward Garcia. The bar also has around 20 whiskies, including Glenlivet 14 year old ($14) and Bulleit rye ($9). The cocktail menu features classics alongside special “Signature and Wizarding” cocktails. Garcia adds that Queen & Rook “will be adding events where people can learn about whisky and classic games in the next few months.” Bring a friend or a date and pair signature cocktail Aretha ($12)—Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition, applejack, Angostura bitters, and Bittermens Xocolatl bitters—with two-player game Onitama.