Photo | Top of the Bay (Best E-Sho Bar)
Gabe and I walked into The River Pub in Bay Minette, a crowded locals’ bar on the banks of the Tensaw River, and removed our masks.
“New faces!” bartender Jacky Perkins exclaimed. It was the kind of welcome you’d expect from someone who knows everyone in this town and knows you absolutely do not live within a 10-mile radius of this pub.
We introduced ourselves, ordered some cans of beer and spent the evening sitting outside and listening to a guitar player compete with the cicadas for airtime. It was a perfect summer evening and a reminder of what’s so great about bars — the community, the drinks, the warm, blurry atmosphere.
You don’t need me to tell you this has been a tough few months for bars and other nightlife venues. First, they were deemed “non-essential” businesses by the governor and ordered closed. Then they were allowed to tentatively open back up, as long as they followed plenty of restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And in another blow last week, the ABC Board ruled they could not serve alcohol past 11 p.m.
This has also been a tough few months for people who love bars, love the people who work in them and love the other people who hang out in them. These are absolutely essential businesses, and Lagniappe readers proved that in this year’s Nappie Awards, channeling their pining adoration into thousands and thousands of votes for their favorites.
Here’s a rundown of who took home which honors.
Jacky Perkins of The River Pub won Best Bartender – Baldwin, while Manci’s Antique Club in Daphne took home Best All-Around Bar – Baldwin and Best E-Sho Happy Hour. Manci’s is still riding high from making national headlines in 2018, having been named to Esquire’s list of best bars in America.
This will surprise absolutely no one, but Callaghan’s took home Best All-Around Bar – Mobile and the bar’s Liz Langan won Best Bartender – Mobile. A Mobile institution continues to institute.
The Ice Box Bar won Best New Bar. It opened up in the Crystal Ice House, which, coincidentally, is nestled up to the building that once housed Haint Blue Brewing Co. and now is home to BrewHounds. Haint Blue lives, though! Haint Blue IPA was crowned Favorite Craft Beer. (Production continues, even after the brand closed its brewpub.)
There were the bars that dominated their neighborhoods in Mobile: Pour Baby (Best WeMo Bar), Nixon’s (Best MiMo Bar), O’Daly’s (Best LoDa Bar) and Pirate’s Bar & Grill (Best SoMo Bar). And those that stood out in entire regions of Baldwin County: Top of the Bay (Best E-Sho Bar), C’Est Le Vin (Best South Baldwin Bar) and Flora-Bama (Best Beach Bar).
Others ruled their specialties. Red or White, which has locations in Mobile, Fairhope and Orange Beach, claimed the Best Wine Bar title. The Haberdasher, which remained shuttered for most of 2020, was named Best Fancy Drink Bar. The Garage is the Best Happy Hour Bar according to readers, which would explain why it starts filling up at 3 p.m. on weekdays. Heroes Sports Bar & Grille was named the Best Sports Bar, while Hayley’s took the Best Dive Bar’s tarnished crown.
Beer fans voted Fairhope Brewing Co. the Best Local Brewery, and LoDa Bier Garten the Bar with the Best Tap Selection. Best Margarita fans flocked to Taco Mama, while Best Bloody Mary fanatics preferred Brick and Spoon. Meanwhile, Best Bar Trivia heads frequented The Blind Mule and gamblers declared Beau Rivage as their Favorite Casino to strike it rich. Those who like to dance voted B-Bob’s the Best Gay Bar and Best Place to Shake Your Booty, while those who prefer to watch voted The Candy Store the Best Gentlemen’s Club.
The competitiveness of these categories and the diversity of winners prove that Mobile and Baldwin nightlife is still very much alive and essential to our way of life. Let’s fight to keep it that way.
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist and Boozie’s most unreliable Midtown spy. Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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