Garage ales

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Born in the city of rock, The Garage Bar is like that friendly, fist-pumping bad boy you see at every show wearing an AC/DC T-shirt. The Arena District's newest bar, like its original Cleveland location, is fueled by all things rock 'n' roll.

Garage Bar's open interior is awash with the color and chrome of the hot rods that emerged during rock's roots. Tin Americana signs clutter the red walls while vintage fuel pumps, serving draft beer, dominate a long bar area painted with flames and racing stripes.

"We're a local, blue-collar place with a rock 'n' roll soundtrack," said owner Jeff Allison.

The bar's relaxed, neighborhood feel - in an unlikely area - draws not just blue-collar workers but a diverse crowd of white-collar and no-collar types. Patrons can count on the rock-only electronic juke to deliver staple fret-shredders, like Zeppelin, alongside modern marvels like The White Stripes.

The Garage Bar boasts a DJ stage high above the crowd. On Friday and Saturday nights, instead of cutting beats, DJs churn guitar-driven tunes on vinyl - it's a real treat for audiophiles. The bar's hosted several bands since opening last month, and Allison plans to increase that presence in time.

While some bars boast self-guided beer tours, Garage Bar may be the only one around with a Shot Club. The bar's 25 smooth-tasting shots with R-rated names - the MILFinator and 1 Night Stand were the only two appropriate to print - are hugely popular and a steal at $4, but don't try them all in one night.

"Rather than focus on happy hour, we try to pride ourselves on no matter what time it is, if you have 10 bucks, you can come and get your buzz on," Allison said.

The bar's cans of Black Label and Schlitz cost two Washingtons, while 24-ounce tall boys of PBR and High Life are only three. In addition to tempting $2 shots of Jim Beam, Garage Bar's house shot, the Gas 'n' Oil ($4), is a pleasant mix of Blavod Black Vodka and Red Bull that looks like motor oil.

Car guys and gals tend to stick with beer, and the bar offers a pretty solid rundown. Their 12 taps are topped by Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat, Great Lakes' Dortmunder Gold and Magic Hat's #9 ($4).

As summer cools off, the bar's patio is a pleasant spot for a beer or a bite. Wednesday evenings, the Garage Bar boasts $5 half-pound Black Angus Burgers, but their smoker always offers a small selection of BBQ-style food like bratwursts ($5), pulled pork sandwiches ($9) and slabs of ribs ($18).