By Dan MacIntyre.
You live and work in Hamilton, but where do you play? HIVE public relations chair Dan MacIntyre shines a light on the area, writing from experience, and providing you with a guide on where to be when the night calls.
The Brain | 199 James Street North
From the outside, it looks like a peculiar place. With only its overhanging sign displaying a cartoon drawing of a brain along with her yellow exterior, it’s no wonder it catches the eye amid the solid street wall along James North between Mulberry and Robert.
Nestled in between Mulberry Street Coffeehouse and the Studios at Hotel Hamilton, The Brain has established itself as the “first-date mecca” of Hamilton and with good reason.
The Brain is a space that is completely unassuming, much like its staff who endear themselves to their guest just as much as the venue itself. The eclectic décor of The Brain is worth the trip into this establishment. In particular, the light fixture hanging over the bar which is an engineering feat in it itself. You will find patrons enjoying an impressive roster of cocktails or craft beers, both on tap and by the bottle, offered at The Brain. This bar also masquerades as a cafe, offering coffee, pies and paninis all of which will strike a chord somewhere in your being.
The Brain is somewhere you can come in and let your hair down. It’s a place perfectly situated between too casual and too much. Regardless of your musical tastes, The Brain also delivers. Depending on the bartender who doubles as the resident DJ via their personal iPod, all auditory needs are met somewhere in between Beyoncé and Fleetwood Mac.
Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge | 171 John Street South
The buffer between downtown and the Niagara escarpment, the Corktown neighbourhood in Hamilton is one of Hamilton’s oldest. You’ll find a lot of history here, weaved throughout the charming streets that make up this area. Corktown is also the home to a hotbed of nightlife known as Augusta Street.
While Augusta alone can warrant several articles, today’s focus is on one establishment in particular along this stretch, Gallagher’s. Distinct in many ways from the rest of Augusta Street, Gallagher’s sits alone on the corner of John and Augusta, chief of its domain. In the last three years, Gallagher’s has established itself as a true social scene. A bar catering to the mid-twenties plus crowd, it has become a place to see and be seen for Hamilton’s socialites.
With a wood spanning almost the entirety of the room Gallagher’s boasts an impressive collection of draughts in addition to the standard bottled beer and liquor fare found along the rest of Augusta. On its busy nights, Gallgher’s has three to four bartenders, two to three cocktailers and a couple of bussers working at full capacity to accommodate the dry throats of Hamilton’s bar goers. This level of service is a real plus as wait times for drinks here are far better than those elsewhere in the city.
Tuesday nights especially can get wild in here as Born in the Eighties (BITE) has made Gallagher’s their home and draws a huge crowd. Playing acoustic covers of songs those born in the eighties can sing along to, the clientele on this night ranges in age from 25-40 for the most part. Carving out a Tuesday night niche for itself, Gallagher’s has cornered the market for the mid-week party goer in Hamilton.
Sláinte Irish Gastropub | 33 Bowen Street
In Gaelic-tongue, “sláinte” means “good health.” For Hamilton’s bar goers, Sláinte’s simply means a good time. A gastropub (a combination of both bar and restaurant serving high-end food and drink) tucked indiscreetly off of Main at 33 Bowen Street just East of John Street, Sláinte’s has been a social institution for many years. The venue is striking in beauty and the building itself has significant historical merit dating back to the 1800s. And folks flock here with good reason. Sláinte’s offers well over 75 different beers on their menu and have successfully created a pub/dance club/live music scene hybrid that many bars try to replicate with failure.
Currently they have resident DJ Adverb on the ones and twos throwing down bangers from the ’90s and ’00s wetting the appetite of the young professional in attendance while playing enough of the “new stuff” to keep the student crowd entertained. Upstairs one will find an assortment of different local acts playing live music sets catering to a demographic with different appreciations.
Because Sláinte’s is a gastropub, they try their hand in the food game, and are quite good at it as well. Sourcing their ingredients locally and taking pride in their food offerings, Sláinte’s will anchor you as a regular even if the late-night scene isn’t for you. Should you decide to partake in a night at Sláinte’s you’ll have a wonderfully memorable night. Good times all in all.
Know a place that would be great for Hamilton’s young professionals? Send your suggestions to email@example.com
Dan MacIntyre is a McMaster alumni, born and raised in Hamilton. He currently serves as Chair of the 2015 HIVE PR subcommittee.