Some cursory Internet research, which is the best kind of Internet research, would quickly tell you that Cleveland has been booze-addled from almost the very first day it existed. Historian William Ganson Rose wrote that two brothers, David and Gilman Bryant, set up a shop at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in 1800 making "two quarts of raw spirits a day" for "medicinal purposes." It wasn't too long after that they found themselves drunk on what would become West Sixth Street.
Cleveland's prodigious output continued from there – 26 breweries were in operation by 1910.
That pesky little Prohibition thing put a damper on that industry for decades, but a man named Conway came along in the late '80s with Great Lakes Brewing Co., which led to where we are today.
Which isn't to say Cleveland's just a beer town – it's a shot-and-a-beer town, and a place with a fruitful history of well-made cocktails and local spirits.
We wanted to take a look at not only how we got here in this issue (the "Get to Know Your Local Brewer" feature takes a dip into the lineage that's producing the brews you're enjoying today), but also at what's emerging on the drinking scene now (Cleveland's newest cocktail trend: something that "tastes like the perfumed balls of an old Italian man," according to one expert).
From the imminent invasion of beer gardens to the delicious arrival of wine on tap at many local joints, from the fantastic tale of a Clevelander who's been handed the keys to America's oldest craft beer to the legal hurdles facing local distillers, we hope to give you a proper scope of what it means to be imbibing in the fabulous Forest City these days.
That, of course, wouldn't be complete without proper credit to the bars and bartenders that make us feel welcome and sated whenever we pull up a stool. A few of our favorites are highlighted for your edification.
Do enjoy. Cheers.