Like a Local: The 7 Best Places to Grab a Drink in Pittsburgh

by Holly Riddle  |  Published July 23, 2018

On the cusp of the Midwest, the Steel City is known for its industrial heritage, powered by the sweat and blood of the working class. While the city’s economy now revolves less around the steel industry, it still fuels much of the economy in western Pennsylvania.

With its mountainous surroundings, Pittsburgh provides many vantage points for a dazzling nighttime view of the city (Photo: Matthew Paulson)

What comes to mind when you think of Pittsburgh? Beyond steel and sports teams, is there much more? Definitely! On the eastern edge of the Midwest, Pittsburgh is starkly different from its Pennsylvanian sister Philadelphia. Where Philadelphia boasts a recognizable history, close proximity to several other major U.S. cities and a hot food scene, Pittsburgh is more isolated from other urban centers in the country, with a history focused on its three rivers and Native American heritage.

However, those who visit Pittsburgh, rather than overlook it, are rewarded with fantastic culinary options, world-class museums, expansive walkability and, of course, an array of great drinking establishments that keep them coming back again and again.


Step into Pirata and let the Caribbean vibe, and hits like the Stone Manhattan cocktail, melt away your worries (Photo: Holly Riddle)

Pirata is a Latin American-influenced restaurant and bar, featuring cuisine from the Caribbean and South and Central America. Beyond the delicious food, they offer more than 200 varieties of rum and an impressive cocktail list. Choose from rums sourced from all over the world. Many are sourced from Latin America, but there are a few far-reaching varieties from distilleries in Austria and India. If you’re looking to spend big during your trip, go for the Millionaire cocktail flight, which features three rums (Don Q Reserva de la Familia Serralles, El Dorado 50 Year and Black Tot British Royal) for a hefty $400. If your budget is a little less extravagant, the cocktail list is more than satisfactory, with options like the Stone Manhattan, a ginger wine and rum version of the traditional Manhattan.

274 Forbes Ave.


Perched on Mount Washington, Altius is a fine-dining establishment with excellent views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Though the dinner menu itself is superb–with intricately created dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients, served by a stellar, attentive staff–the cocktail menu certainly holds its own. Elevated cocktails include options like the Some Like It Hot (with bourbon, lemon, honey, sriracha and cucumber) and Frankly My Dear (bourbon, banana rum, pinot noir, blood orange and soda). The current dessert cocktail is the Liquid Chocolate Bourbon Ball, which delivers exactly what it promises: a nearly identical flavor to the classic Kentucky treat, with a spirited kick to boot.

1230 Grandview Ave.

Pork & Beans

This down-home barbecue joint could fool anyone into thinking they’re chowing down in the American South (Photo: Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group)

A part of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, nominated for the Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year Award by the James Beard Foundation, Pork & Beans serves Southern-style barbecue in an eclectic atmosphere. The barbecue and other down-home menu items sell out fast, but you can always find their flavorful cocktails, plus 36 types of wine and beer on tap. The seasonal cocktails rotate, but can include punched-up takes on favorites like Moscow Mules and Mint Juleps, served in cool containers like a tin can. They also have several beer-tails.

136 6th St.

Braddock’s Bar

Located inside the beautiful Renaissance Pittsburgh, Braddock’s Bar features handcrafted cocktails inspired by the Whiskey Rebellion. With plenty of bourbon, as well as regional beers and a wine list, there’s something for everyone…but definitely something for the bourbon drinkers in the room. The whiskey cocktails complement the spirit itself; for example, there’s the Braddock’s Smash (bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, berries and bitters) and The Chief (bourbon, Grand Marnier, lemon, simple syrup and old-fashioned bitters), both excellent examples of this dedication to the drink.

107 6th St.

Church Brew Works

It may look like a place of worship on the outside, but this establishment pays homage to the brew only (Photo: ctj71081 via Flickr)

If whiskey or rum aren’t quite your drinks, you can find the beer you’re craving at Church Brew Works, an interesting spot known for its unconventional history. Built in 1902, the building was a Roman Catholic church before becoming an acclaimed brewery in 1993. Choose between several house brews or national and regional brands as well. The dining menu offers new takes on regional favorites, such as pierogis. Other favorites include barbecue pulled pork nachos, a beer-infused crab dip, barbecue pulled pork and lamb Bolognese. Don’t miss dessert–a malted bread pudding topped with a cinnamon lager sauce.

3525 Liberty Ave.

Butcher and the Rye

This acclaimed whiskey bar offers hundreds of options (Photo: Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group)

Another outpost of the Richard DeShantz Group, Butcher and the Rye is all about the whiskey and just so happens to be the first bar in the city nominated for the Outstanding Bar Program award by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant actually has two bars, one on the first floor with a whiskey wall boasting 600 varieties, and one on the second floor dedicated to rye that serves craft cocktails. Whichever you choose, don’t miss a bite to eat with your drink. The charcuterie boards are top-notch.

212 Sixth St.

Scratch Food & Beverage

An adorable, cozy spot to dine and drink, Scratch Food & Beverage serves seasonal items that are familiar, but not overly so. The menu includes simple classics like the Brown Derby (bourbon, lime and honey) and hot buttered rum, as well as more extravagant options like the Zombie (brandy, absinthe, grenadine, orange and more) and Yellow Brick Road (mezcal, apples, beets, ginger, licorice, turmeric, lemon and demerara sugar).

1720 Lowrie St.