Nightlife review: It’s no surprise Blackstone Social is a neighborhood fave

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, April 20, 2017

Blackstone.OWH

Where: 3910 Farnam St., Omaha, NE 68131

When: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. Friday to Sunday

Information: www.blackstonesocial.com or 402-260-7900

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Blackstone Social is in, you guessed it, the Blackstone District.

A historic neighborhood along Farnam Street between 33rd and 44th Streets, the Blackstone District has seen some extensive revamping in the past few years and is now a trendy neighborhood full of bars, restaurants and breweries.

Blackstone Social fits right in, and judging by the crowds, it seems to be something of a neighborhood favorite.

When I visited early on a weekend night, the place was packed. I was a little worried about finding somewhere to sit, since, like many businesses in the neighborhood, Blackstone Social is on the small side. But, noticing the bar area was full, the bartender quickly escorted my drinking buddy and I toward the back where staff members were already clearing off a table for us.

The staff at Blackstone Social was like this all night — fast, friendly and, frankly, just really good at their jobs.

And as for the drinks, they were darn good, too.

Blackstone Social has an extensive whiskey selection, a large menu of flavored shooters, wine available by the glass or by the bottle, and a beer menu with craft and domestic brews.

Drink prices vary, with the highest-end whiskey topping out at $35 and the cheapest beers costing less than $5, but the majority of drinks on Blackstone Social’s menu are for less than $10.

Blackstone Social also offers a selection of house cocktails — most of them for $7.

My drinking buddy and I tried three of them: the Whiskey Smashed, Secretariat and Grand Pappy’s Breakfast.

All of them were good, but the Whiskey Smashed was my favorite. It’s made with Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice and honey nectar syrup. It’s also surprisingly easy to drink. The honey nectar syrup makes it sweet but not too sweet, and it slightly masks the sharpness of the bourbon, so it goes down smoothly.

I highly recommend the Whiskey Smashed, especially for people who don’t necessarily consider themselves whiskey fans but who are looking to try something new. You just might find you like it.

The Secretariat, a cocktail made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, lime juice, ginger beer and topped with berries, was good too. It’s refreshing and a great springtime drink, provided you like ginger beer, which I really, really do.

Our third cocktail was Grand Pappy’s Breakfast, which is made with coffee from another Blackstone District favorite, Archetype Coffee. It’s spiked with Tullamore Dew Whiskey and Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur.

It normally comes topped with whipped cream but they were out the night we visited. That was disappointing, but the drink was not. It was great without the whipped cream, but I’m sure the whipped cream would have made it even better. I’d recommend Grand Pappy’s Breakfast for those spring nights that are still a bit on the chilly side.

But overall, I’d just recommend you get to Blackstone Social.

Though the neighborhood may be busy, and the limited parking in the area may occasionally test your patience, like all great things, Blackstone Social is worth the wait.

Nightlife review: Longwell’s is for lovers. Beer lovers.

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, April 6, 2017

Longwells-OWH

Longwell’s, 350 Canopy St., Suite 100, in Lincoln.

Where: 350 Canopy St., Suite 100, Lincoln

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

Information: longwells.com or 402-904-5283

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I love beer, and Longwell’s does, too. The Lincoln bar’s motto is “76 Strong” which refers to the 76 different beers it has on tap.

Longwell’s, in Lincoln’s Railyard district, has beers from Nebraska favorites like Omaha’s Brickway Brewery and Distillery and Lincoln’s Zipline Brewing Company, as well as international brews and craft beer standouts from across the country.

Basically, their beer menu is huge, which is good news for craft beer enthusiasts.

The good news for craft beer newbies is that Longwell’s beer menu is informative, too. Both online and in the bar, Longwell’s beer menu lists each beer’s type, its alcohol by volume (ABV) and, in some cases, its International Bitterness Units (IBU) rating.

Don’t know much about ABVs or IBUs? No worries. Longwell’s staff can offer suggestions, and you can always sample a beer in a smaller size.

Longwell’s beer menu allows you to order draft brews in 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 16-ounce servings.

The prices vary by the beer, but you can get a 5 oz. glass of most of the brews for less than $3. That makes it a good option if you’d like to taste a few different beers.

That’s what I did on my last visit.

I stuck with Nebraska breweries and got Farnam House Brewing Company’s Ginger Brett, Scriptown Brewing Company’s Sassy Lassy and White Elm Brewing Company’s Inverted Galaxy.

The Ginger Brett is an interesting and heartier brew at 8.9 percent ABV. The Sassy Lassy, a blonde ale, is a lighter beer perfect for spring, and White Elm’s Inverted Galaxy is a double IPA chockful of hops.

All of these beers were different, all of them were good and they’re just a very small sampling of the beers on Longwell’s menu.

If beer isn’t your thing, Longwell’s also has a selection of wine and all the liquors you’d expect at your neighborhood bar.

But really, at Longwell’s, it’s about the beer. And sports.

Longwell’s bills itself as a place “where craft house meets sports bar.”

On this front, they deliver.

In addition to their extensive craft brew selection, Longwell’s also offers everything you’d expect from your local sports bar: bar eats and tons of televisions tuned to your favorite sports teams.

Longwell’s food menu offers all of the sports bar classics: fried and cheesy appetizers, burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches and wraps, most for $10 or less. They also offer a selection of barbecue, including pulled pork, brisket, ribs and more, most of it for less than $15.

I’ve been to Longwell’s a few times and have eaten items from across the menu. As someone who eats at a lot of sports bars, trust me when I say Longwell’s selection is better than most.

Longwell’s also more than lives up to its sports bar credentials with plenty of televisions, including a 45-foot LED television inside and great views of the Cube, the massive television in the Railyard’s common area, outside.

So, if you’re looking for a sports bar experience that can satisfy your craft beer fix, check out Longwell’s the next time you’re in Lincoln. They’ve got you covered.