The resurgence, excitement, and development in the Lansing area is palpable. Even edible. And, most importantly, drinkable! Here are the top ten favorite hotspots in the Lansing area to get your drink on.
Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern
If you’ve lived in the Lansing area for more than three days and you haven’t been to Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern, you’re doing it wrong. And you’d better be a saint or a nun. Quite possibly the hippest bar in town, Zoobie’s offers creative cocktails, not your run-of-the-mill beers on tap, and perhaps the best Moscow Mule in the area. Not to mention, it is attached to (and one and the same with) Cosmo’s Pizza (get the Trust Us).
611 E Grand River Ave, Lansing
Google Rating: 4.6
The Peanut Barrel
There are five fantastic reasons to make East Lansing’s The Peanut Barrel a regular stop. The downtown East Lansing street-side patio, the burgers, the long island iced tea, the long island iced tea, and the long freaking island iced tea. It is refreshing, delicious, and, rumor has it, they limit customers to two because it is so strong. Open since 1973, this EL hotspot is a staple among college students, MSU alumni, and anyone else who wants to enjoy a life-altering summer beverage. Yep, the long island iced tea.
521 E. Grand River Ave, East Lansing
Google Rating: 4.2
Waterfront Bar & Grill
They have beer. They have food. But go for the patio. On the river’s side of the Lansing City Market sprawls Waterfront’s patio table and chairs. Within feet of the Grand River, patrons experience a view of downtown Lansing with the rippling water in the foreground. This is one of the few places in the Lansing area where you can enjoy a drink with a river view.
325 City Market Drive, Lansing
Google Rating: 3.2
Pablo’s in Old Town doesn’t have a bar, so why is it on this list? Well, despite their delicious Mexican food that deserves a spot on every single list ever created, they have horchata. Delicious horchata. Is it spiked? No. Can you order it to-go and tip some rum into it at home? Of course. Are they working on a second location in REO Town with a full bar and patio? Yes, please and thank you.
311 E. Grand River Ave, Lansing
Google Rating: 4.5
Old Nation Brewery
A bit of a drive from Lansing proper, Old Nation Brewery in Williamston is absolutely worth it. Their M-43 New England style IPA put it on the map and is the flagship of what they do. They also make their own root beer, house-made chips, and offer a delectable menu. Honey, get the keys!
1500 E. Grand River Ave, Williamston
Google Rating: 4.7
Red Cedar Spirits
Red Cedar Spirits is East Lansing’s hidden gem. And it is hidden. Still, it is one of Michigan’s largest and oldest distilleries right in Lansing’s backyard. Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails, and charcuterie–all are winners. Plus, they give tours, and who doesn’t like to be a tourist in their own town?
2000 Merritt Road, East Lansing
Google Rating: 4.8
Front 43 Neighborhood Pub
A small, locally-owned sports bar in the Frandor area caught my attention when they sold Bell’s Two Hearted for two dollars. All. The. Time. It felt too good to be true, and then it was. They stopped that precious, precious deal over a year ago but still offer twenty handles of tasty Michigan beer. Front 43 is my favorite spot for a chill night out, a good beer, and watching a game on one of their big screens (the place isn’t huge so there’s not a bad seat). I’d even feel comfortable at Front 43 in my pajamas. It truly is a neighborhood pub.
3415 E. Saginaw St, Lansing
Google Rating: 4.2
Lansing Brewing Company
LBC offers an inspiring local narrative of overcoming history and rising from the ashes. The business reaches back to 1898 as the Capital City’s first ever brewery but closed in 1914. One hundred years later, at a time when microbrews replaced water taps, it rose again bearing the infamous Amber Cream Ale and, my personal favorite, The Angry Mayor IPA. Aromatic cocktails and great food (try the poutine) compliment the beer menu, but the best thing about LBC is that they stand for the rejuvenation of a wonderful city as an example of determined resurgence. It is located in the stadium district.
518 E. Shiawassee St, Lansing
Google Rating: 4.3
REO Town Pub
No Lansing neighborhood is more familiar right now with resurgence than REO Town. In only the last decade, this stretch of Washington Avenue as come from being the Capitol’s hub of drugs and prostitution, and other than that, a mere ghost town, to being a frontrunner for the most creative and innovative part of the city. REO Town Pub has been through it all. It’s a dive bar focused on community, and it’s a good enough excuse to patron this part of town which now houses Blue Owl Coffee, The Record Lounge, and Good Truckin’ Diner. The pub has a solid beer selection and offers the menu from Saddleback Barbecue next door. They even have a fantastic patio and gluten free beers.
1145 S. Washington St, Lansing
Google Rating: 4.4
When taking a friend to Ellison Brewery, it’s a good idea to preface with a clear promise you don’t intend to kill them in the back alley. Where East Lansing meets Okemos on Grand River Ave, Ellison hides down a small side street and behind a warehouse-looking building (It is actually very safe). The beer is the best in town, they’ve added a distillery, and the atmosphere blends front-of-the-house with back-of-the-house tremendously. It’s such a nice place with such good beer that you’ll soon forget all about murder. Grab some grub from Whole Foods on your way or take advantage of a food truck outside the brewery, but most importantly, try the beer.
4903 Dawn Ave, East Lansing
Google Rating: 4.7
Welp, there you have it. Drink up. Drink locally. Drink responsibly. Don’t try them all in one day, but try them all you must. Certainly more hot spots fill the Lansing area, but this should get a connoisseur started.