The most populous city in the American state of Alabama—and the county seat of the larger Jefferson County—Birmingham is renowned for its southern charm and diversity. It is also a great city in which to drink and party, as evidenced by the scores of fun bars, pubs, clubs and lounges scattered throughout its many communities and neighborhoods.
Birmingham, which is named after one of its sister cities Birmingham, England, a major industrial center in the United Kingdom, is a prime tourist destination in the southern United States, boasting hundreds of great sites and attractions, including museums, state and federal landmarks, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs.
In the following piece we will introduce you to some of Birmingham’s most popular and oft-visited bars. We will additionally provide some background information on each of these fine drinking establishments, including some interesting facts about each destination—their characteristics, the type of crowd that populates each bar, and the various diversions and amenities available to those who visit there.
Billy’s Bar and Grill
Located on Overton Road in the English Village section of Birmingham, Billy’s Bar and Grill, as its name suggests, is a casual and very fun restaurant and bar, with a laidback atmosphere and rustic, comfortable vibe. Billy’s, as it is commonly known locally, is known throughout the community as a relaxed place in which to toast the end of a long day or week, and a bar that many locals refer to as their second home. The popular drinking destination has a pub-like charm, simple, yet delectable grub and a Happy Hour that is second to none in the great state of Alabama.
Billy’s Bar and Grill thrives throughout the week thanks largely to its various themes—themes that include Meatloaf Monday, a day when the beer is cheap and the slab of meatloaf you order covers the entire large plate; and Karaoke Wednesdays, when local talent (and even the largely untalented) can sing their favorite songs while sipping down a refreshing ale or tasty cocktail. Fridays and Saturdays are especially popular at this local bar, when students and the local working class can dance and party to both DJ and live music.
The big games are always on at Billy’s—a bar that boasts nearly a dozen large HD televisions—and the Sunday Bloody Marys, sipped generously by those who come in to catch the big NASCAR race, are off the hook. The warm and friendly Billy’s Bar and Grill, which is open 7 days a week from 11:00 AM until 2:00 AM, has been a mainstay in the English Village since 1979 and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Boasting a perfect name for a bar, the Blue Monkey is a wonderful spot that is located in the Five Points South region of Birmingham, a bustling part of town where much of the city’s fun and rowdy entertainment is located. Blue Monkey is a bit upscale as compared to Billy’s Bar and Grill. This is a modern martini club that is fashioned after the speak-easy clubs of the 1930s and 1940s. Here you will find the chic and cosmopolitan crowd of Birmingham, in a bar that seems a little out of place in the American south (think NYC instead).
Live music is a staple at the Blue Monkey, mostly piano soloists playing as the after-work crowd gathers to relax and chat after a day at the office. Food is always available here, including a late night menu that is especially popular among those in the know.
Dave’s Pub in Birmingham is a lot like the television bar Cheers—a comfortable place that is home to more than its fair share of locals. Housed in a faded redbrick building, the bar is warm and inviting, the type of place “where everyone knows your name.” The bartenders here are both friendly and knowledgeable, and the drink choices range from local, domestic and craft beer, to a full menu of signature cocktails. In addition to the usual favorites, the draught beer at Dave’s Pub consists of Murphy’s Ale, Abita Restoration, Boddingtons and Urquell, the latter being a locally-brewed and very tasty pilsner that is rapidly gaining in popularity.
Dave’s Pub, with its spacious horseshoe bar and a lounge area massive enough to accommodate large groups, is open every day and features live music every Sunday.
Situated in Birmingham’s Lakeview District, the Innisfree Pub is an unfussy club that is especially crowded during Happy Hour and on weekend nights. A prime meeting spot for sports lovers, the bar has several televisions (all of which are showing the Alabama Crimson Tide game on Saturday evenings), pool tables and arcade style games to help pass the time.
Innisfree Pub is fashioned after a real English pub. In keeping with that theme, the bar is decorated with British memorabilia, and serves up some delicious UK-style food, including Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash. The crowd at this rather upscale sports bar ranges from the young working class to college kids, many of whom can be seen wearing Khakis and Oxfords.
Also located in the Five Points South neighborhood is the bar known as Zydeco. Zydeco is renowned as a local music club, hosting a range of talent from Alabama and beyond, including some very talented touring acts. The club is very intimate, but the tunes, thanks to a great sound system, are enormous, making it a great place to catch a show.
Zydeco is a very social and cozy lounge that serves up a full menu of tasty gastronomic treats, including Creole and Cajun cuisine that pairs perfectly with the bar’s 13 draught beers and full liquor stock. While music is the main draw at Zydeco’s, patrons on non-music nights can relax on the club’s outdoor patio or head upstairs for a game of billiards on its three pool tables. The cover charge varies depending on the type and scope of the musical act—acts that can range from Hip Hop artists like 17th Floor to the Southern rockers Drivin’ N’ Cryin.
Birmingham, Alabama city by tpsdave/Pixabay CC0 license