Remember the thrill of a kiddie cocktail? We felt so grown-up and sophisticated with our Shirley Temple or virgin daiquiri. With a cherry and a straw, we seemed to escape our childhood and briefly tread in the world of our parents. After all, they were probably drinking the high-octane equivalent.
Sitting at the copper-top bar in Genna’s Lounge, located at 105 West Main Street, right off Capitol Square, it becomes clear that maybe Mom and Dad were training us for grown-up tastes. The drinks at Genna’s are not for kids, and likewise, are enjoyed with a certain amount of responsibility and maturity.
Genna’s is a far cry from the beer-soaked madness often found on State Street or University Avenue. Consequently, it attracts an older crowd.
During the week, the bar has happy hour from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., offering 40 percent off all rail drinks and select beers. Popular among Capitol-area employees, Genna’s offers a great place to relax after a long day before the journey home.
Later in the night, the crowd shifts gears and is dominated by older students and hip downtown residents. There is an almost arrogant feeling of self-confidence in the air. It is an “I’m here to enjoy my drinks and my company and you can keep your judgments to yourself” type of attitude.
The drinks are strong and creative — reflective of the desires of a more particular audience. Genna’s Cosmopolitan, priced at $5.00, is especially popular. Made with fresh lime juice, the drink is more tart than what you’d find at other bars.
The cocktail is impressive, and so is the service. With any variety of martini at Genna’s, the bartenders let customers take a few initial sips, only to have their glass quickly filled again with the remaining liquid left in the shaker.
Standard classics also don’t disappoint. Genna’s Brandy Old Fashioned, for example, is very tasty, and warms the soul on a cold winter night.
The drinks are slightly on the expensive side, but are well made. If you are looking to enjoy the atmosphere on a budget, you can get a bottle of PBR, Old Style or Point for $2.25. If you want to be more adventuresome with your choice, you can pay slightly more for any of the 60 different bottled beers or any of the 12 beers on tap.
The atmosphere is relaxed and unthreatening. Worn and comfortable couches are on both floors of the bar. Nicely proportioned tables are scattered about. There are interesting objects of art and pop culture — ranging from the lower half of a female mannequin, to a Barbie doll, to a picture of Lawrence Welk’s tombstone — throughout the bar.
Lawrence Welk, for those who may not know, was a TV personality with a wholesome, easy-listening music show that aired from 1955 to 1982. The show has somewhat of a modern-day cult following, and every Saturday around 5:00 p.m., Welk fans congregate at Genna’s to pay homage and watch re-runs of his show on PBS. This is retro at its finest!
Genna’s is a family-run establishment. The original bar, which was located at 614 University Avenue, was opened by Frank Genna in 1964. The bar was known to be a popular hangout for anti-war radicals, and eventually developed a reputation for backroom gambling. Frank’s daughter Kristi inherited the business in 1987 after her father’s passing, and she eventually moved the bar to its current location in 1993.
Although less scandalous than its predecessor, the new Genna’s still has an edgy feel.
Not for the immature drinker, Genna’s offers an upside to growing up.
Bartime will close out the semester with beers at Der Rathskeller inside Memorial Union, tonight, Friday, December 6. Cheers!