Cardinal's own Becky Button on what makes Bloomington a great place to drink.
By Becky Button
Confession: I have been drinking in Bloomington for more than seven years. Well now, that seems like quite a long time when one puts words to the thought. In my time here, I have met my share of fine folks — sometimes I’m serving them drinks, sometimes they’re serving me drinks and other times we’re simply drinking together — and seven years is a wink compared to their time in Bloomington.
But together, we share a common love and awe for a town that yields so much adventure and positivity when it comes to alcohol. I am definitely not alone.
Yes, my friends, Bloomington is a drinker’s town. The variety of watering holes increases every year. It is the accessibility of good wine, beer and spirits that makes our Bloomington so great. This isn’t a city that simply sells alcohol. Bloomington is full of makers — craft breweries, local wineries, and the newest addition, a craft distillery. And we celebrate with events like Craft Beer Fest, Wine and Food Fest, and various musical and restaurant events that support local establishments.
And naturally, with one kind of great variety comes variety of a different species. Being that Bloomington is the college town in Indiana, we have so many types of what I like to call “drinker identities.”
I have been, seen and spoken to them all.
Yep, I was the under-confident college girl waiting at the steps of fraternities some freshman nights (forgive me); I was the chain-smoking porch gal staying up until 5 a.m. with her sister-friends; and yes, I was the new 21-year-old hopping from bar to bar regardless of whatever night of the week it was.
Seven years of changing identities and I have finally come to the one I feel most comfortable with: a Cersei-level wine-loving lady who finds enjoyment in a casual drink on the patio, with a fine friend and good conversation. It is a great gift to make the passage from out-of-state student to the loveable label of "townie," and with so many wonderful opportunities in our town, it is quite fun to be a part of the scene.
My enjoyment in the Bloomington restaurant and bar scene started as it has for many of my kin, working in service. It was easy to fall in love with this town's food and drink; wine and cuisine at Finch's Brasserie; beards and beer knowledge at Function Brewing; mountains of wine and craft cocktails at Feast Cafe and Cardinal Spirits. Also, dating a sommelier — that helps. Working with sharp, motivated and thirsty enthusiasts, the relationships I have made have shaped the way I live, breathe and drink in Bloomington.
When it comes down to it, the people who run, support, and participate in the industry are family. Mi restaurante es su restaurante. Hours have passed chatting in respective dining rooms, creating the atmosphere that is the craft drinking world of Bloomington. As time passes in our town, her personality develops, crediting the individuals and their supporters that put their heart and soul into Bloomington businesses. It is ultimately this family that gives Bloomington her heart and soul.
I adore Bloomington; always have, always will. And in an effort to summarize this small town ode, here are several questions and answers one might seek before journeying to our town:
Can different kinds of folks thrive in our ever-changing drinking culture? Of course.
Is the drinking scene limited to students and young adults? Absolutely not!
Can you meet fantastic people that could potentially help shape your life? Sure thing.
Is this really a great place to live? You betcha.