- 301 W. Fifth St., Cincinnati, OH, 45202
- Overall User Rating:
- (17 ratings)
- 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
- Official Web Site:
Oh, that plucky little bar at the corner of Fifth and Plum. By how many names have we known you? The Poison (and Viper) Room, Spy Club, Fathom (why do the aquarium bars always fail?), etc. etc.
Well, if names are any indication, the latest incarnation appears to be a little more confident in its staying power. The Mainstay Rock Bar dresses up the former Poison Room with giant, comfortable couches and classy, golden-framed mirrors behind its bar made of stone bricks.
The interior of the bar is brand-new, and it seems that the mood Mainstay is going for lands between two styles of drinking spots. First there is the framed art of everyone from Sid Vicious to Will "More Cowbell" Ferrell and giant framed paintings of music-inspired subject matter. There's a DJ booth and a mainstage with Twin Peaks-style red drapes. This part seems to be going for "upscale rock club" - one that shows a lot of early promise.
Contrasting all of this was a "typical neighborhood bar" vibe, with all the staples: flat-screen TVs, Golden Tee, and a TouchTones jukebox that shifted between very rock selections such as the Raconteurs to the very un-rock Meredith Brooks, though I suppose that depends on the clientele of the night.
The crowd consisted of a few diverse groups vying to claim the bar, including locals who seemed content in carrying on the Poison Room tradition and club hoppers who seemed to be using the spot as a prelude to a night out. Can these groups can coexist, or will one manage to out-annoy the other?
Hopefully, everyone will work it out, because the drink deals are amazing. Happy hour, from 4 to 9 p.m. weeknights, features Jack Daniels drinks ($3) and "monster mugs" of Bud Light ($3) and Harp ($2). Even the regular deals are excellent, with recession-friendly giant drafts of Bud Light ($4); Blue Moon, Stella Artois, Harp and Sam Adams Seasonal ($5); and Guinness ($6). Plus there are giant domestic ($4) and import ($5) bottles. So, basically everything, speaking in terms of alcohol, is huge. You've got to like that.
How well the bar succeeds as a rock club will be seen in the coming months. Though there is one positive early indication. As you leave, you are flipped off by a giant painting of the iconic image of Johnny Cash. That's pretty rock 'n' roll.