There’s no shortage of great bars in Centre County, whether you’re looking for a quick bite, a cold beer or an upbeat scene. But when a well-crafted drink calls your name, here are some of the most popular creations at the top spots for cocktails in Happy Valley.
The Tavern/Adam’s Apple
Enter The Tavern through the Calder Way door, and you’re technically in Adam’s Apple, the historic restaurant’s cozy back bar. For more than 30 years, it’s been the home of the Original Sin, a blend of cherry brandies, triple sec and sours topped with champagne.
Gigi’s Southern Table
If you like your eggs and bacon with side of, well, eggs and bacon, the Bacon & Eggs Bloody at Gigi’s Southern Table is a must. Topped with two chipotle deviled eggs and candied Cajun bacon, the drink is just the beginning of a weekend brunch with a Southern flair.
Mad Mex Happy Valley
A student favorite in nice weather due to its outdoor patio, Mad Mex’s “legendary margaritas” come in three sizes leading up to the Big Azz 22-ouncer. Choose on the rocks or frozen, or upgrade to more than half a dozen premium and crafty versions.
Liberty Craft House
In addition to an extensive draft beer list (usually about 40 deep) and a wide-ranging bottle menu, Liberty Craft House also offers cocktails on tap, like the Happy Valley Hurricane, a Northern take on the classic rum cocktail.
Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining
State College’s newest distillery makes rum, whiskey, gin, vodka and a number of specialty liqueurs that the bartenders use in their creative and classic cocktails. Go for Barrel 21’s mule flight to try a mini version of each of the four seasonal creations.
A downtown State College bar that isn’t packed to the gills with students, Local Whiskey fills a gap for those looking for something a little more sophisticated. The bar features a usually fantastic weekly drink special, but you can’t miss with the house Manhattan, a barrel-aged version that’s half off during the late-night happy hour.
Big Spring Spirits
Centre County’s first new wave distillery, Big Spring Spirits takes advantage of the renowned water from Bellefonte’s spring. Try the Centrepolitan, a local take on a Cosmo that incorporates the distillery’s vodka with Tait Farm Cranberry shrub and housemade orange liqueur.
Equally delicious and inventive are Big Spring Spirits’ “zero proof” craft beverages, such as the refreshing Pineapple-Ginger Nomito, a mix of basil-pineapple syrup, pineapple juice, mint, lime, ginger syrup, club soda and angostura bitters.
Kelly’s Steak & Seafood
At this longtime Boalsburg outpost, Kelly's Steak & Seafood has a bar program that is constantly improving, with a cocktail menu that features fanciful creations alongside modern takes on classic favorites, like the Gin Fizz that uses aquafaba in place of egg white.
The Field Burger & Tap
Located at Toftrees Golf Resort, The Field offers fun takes on old standbys, including the Salted Caramel Pretzel Milkshake, which combines the best of both worlds: booze and Hershey’s ice cream.
Maggie Anderson is Editor and Chief of Provisions Magazine.