When the Sun Goes Down: Enjoying the Nightlife in Lincoln
by Rama Tidball
The Star City has a lot to offer after dark, ranging from live music arenas and amphitheaters to dive bars. But to truly enjoy the Lincoln nightlife going out for drinks with friends and painting the town red, Husker style, is best way to unwind and create memories.
Below is a list of cocktail bars, lounges and otherwise—in no particular order, that are truly in a league of their own. So, if you’re in the mood for something different, checkout one, if not all of the venues below.
The Other Room
If you enjoy handcrafted cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere then this ‘speakeasy,’ located at 824 P Street, is the place for you. Honestly, watching these master mixologists perform their magic is half the fun. Cash only, with a 20-person limit and no phones or cameras allowed! But worry not, this is all part of the charm, which can only be truly appreciated by going to The Other Room.
The Starlite Lounge
Capturing the ambience of the 50s and 60s, with their décor, music, libations… and even the wait staff’s black and white attire, you feel like you stepped through a time portal. If you long for a simpler time, visit this retro lounge, located at 247 N. 8th Street, and relax in a plush chair, while enjoying a grasshopper martini and listening to “The Voice.” But it’s not just about the nostalgic memories… it’s also about value. At the Starlite Lounge they dare you to find a cheaper martini in town!
The Copper Kettle
If you have a hankering for vodka, ginger beer and lime juice served in a copper mug, then Lincoln’s first and only Moscow mule bar, The Copper Kettle, at 1320 O Street, is a must visit. Apart from the classic Moscow mule, their mule menu includes a large selection served by friendly staff in a relaxed venue. Some of the more interesting mules are Pomegranate, Spiced Pear and Caribbean. Apart from mules they also have a full bar along with a gourmet fare and dessert menu.
Another one of a kind bar in Lincoln, located at 140 N. 8th Street., will transform an ordinary evening into something memorable. Top notch service and mixologists aren’t the only things that make it so special. It’s the unique ambience, gothic with a splash of baroque. With stained glass windows, no loud music and specialty drinks, including seasonal cocktails, it’s definitely worth the trip.
The Zoo Bar
At 136 N. 14th Street, the Zoo Bar is an institution in Lincoln. Modeled after Chicago blues clubs, The Zoo Bar has hosted numerous famous artists for over 40 years, including Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. It is the place to go if you want to enjoy live music. With an intimate atosphere, it is one of the best—if not the best—blues bar in the Midwest.
Beneath The Cube in The Railyard at 300 Canopy Street is Bourbon Street by Single Barrel, a place you can get something more Cajun/Creole. It has a noteworthy drink menu that includes unique cocktails hailing from New Orleans, the birthplace of many famous cocktails. Sazerac, perhaps the oldest American cocktail, Vieux Carré, invented at the famous Carousel Bar, and the Hurricane, the quintessential rum cocktail, are among the libations served. Drinks aside, they also have a menu which includes gumbo, and boils, making it unique in Lincoln.
Stur 22 Lounge
Another venue you should definitely visit is the Stur 22 Lounge, located at 2110 Winthrop Road. This African and Caribbean kitchen offers great atmosphere and cuisine, integrating Caribbean and West African flavors. You simply have to try the jerk chicken. They also have a nice selection of house cocktails—Caribbean Escape, African Paradise and the Mango Mule among others.
If you’d like to dance the night away, you should visit The DelRay Ballroom, located on 817 R Street Besides serving a classy cocktail and providing a special events venue, they offer dance classes. There are a number of different partner dances to choose from, Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Country and Argentine. Then on Thursday nights they have Practice Dance Parties, which provide a fun opportunity to practice what you’ve learned.
Pla Mor Ballroom
This list would not be complete without mentioning the Pla Mor, which opened on December 23rd,1929 and went on to host big band legends like Count Basie, Lawrence Welk, and Glen Miller. With Big Band Thursdays, Country Sundays and a 5,000 square foot hardwood dance floor, this ballroom promises an enjoyable evening. They also offer ball ballroom and country dance classes along with a variety of rental packages if you’re holding a special event.
Barrymore’s, in downtown Lincoln at 124 N 13th Street, is not just another bar. It is unique. Barrymore’s is tucked in the backstage area of what used to be the Stuart Theatre, now the Rococo—which is still a working theatre on the other side of a fire curtain. You enter the bar through an alley, which was the performer’s stage door when the theatre opened in 1929. In a town that seems to specialize in unique and quirky bars, this one is cozy inside and well worth the visit.
This downtown club, at 1140 O Street, reopened a couple of years ago after closing for two months for a remodel that includes colorful orb lights and a unique ambiance. Besides offering a great variety of alcohol, Marz offers good food from their excellent chef.
So, the next time you’re planning an evening out with friends maybe try something a bit different. Lincoln has much to offer, so add some spice to your life with some variety.