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Four Unique Bars in New Haven

Ordinary New haven

Looking for a unique, different bar in the New Haven area of Connecticut? Look no further, because we’ve got the 4 biggest standout bars for you right here.

Everyone has got a go-to bar: It’s your favorite, the one where you meet up with friends to catch up. It feels comfortable and familiar. Favorite bars are great and all, but they can get pretty boring after years of only going to one place.

If you’re looking for something different, then you’re in luck: Here’s a list of 4 unique bars in New Haven that you have to check out.

1. The Owl Shop

The Owl Shop made the list because it’s a unique blend of a tobacco shop and bar. It was originally opened as a tobacco shop specializing in cigars before transitioning into a cigar lounge, which it still technically is. (Some would argue that this is one of the few “bars” left in Connecticut where you can still smoke indoors.)

In addition to a wide selection of cigars and high-quality liquors, The Owl Shop also serves a variety of baked goods, assorted appetizer plates, sandwiches, and coffees. Each item was specifically chosen based on how it “plays” with the flavor of tobacco, much as how wine is paired with food today.

Where: 268 College Street, New Haven
Cost: Reasonable; dependent on drinks and meal.

2. Cave à Vin

Cave à Vin is a wine bar located on State Street in New Haven. Though they carry various beers and liquors, their specialty is, obviously, their wine list: They’ve got around 80 varieties of wine available at all times.

Beyond simply being informative, the wine list helps to communicate the qualities of the wines in a way that the everyday wine drinker will understand: “Fruity and Floral,” “Bold and Rich,” “Great for Desserts,” etc., making this the perfect bar for anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about wine without feeling overwhelmed by jargon. You’re encouraged to pair your wines with foods from their menu, and to stay on Fridays and Saturdays when they host live musical performances.

Where: 975 State Street, New Haven
Cost: Wines are reasonably priced as samples, glasses, or bottles, making it easy to try a lot before settling on your favorite.

3. Ordinary

The Ordinary, in New Haven, has a very unique vibe to it compared to most other bars in the area. It’s got a speakeasy-like quality to it, probably due to its reliance on historical details and its own varied history. This is a bar for history lovers and romantics: The laid back yet beautiful décor would be perfect for a romantic date night.

The Ordinary is operated by the same people who brought us Caseus Fromagerie (and its amazing cheese truck), so the foods they offer center around the same ingredients you’d find in the restaurant: High-quality cheeses, charcuterie, sweets, etc.

Where: 990 Chapel Street, New Haven
Cost: Food items range from $3 to $15, and drinks are reasonably priced.

4. 116 Crown

116 Crown is unique in what it offers: High end food and drinks that have been praised by the New York Times. The foods range from appetizers and snacks to full blown meals, personal pizzas, and charcuterie and cheese. The drinks are either original concoctions or are twists on favorite classics, perfect for combinations with their food, and they’ve got 38 wine varieties in their cellar: A lot for a bar that doesn’t specialize in wine.

In addition to food and drink, 116 Crown offers cocktail classes, where you can learn how to create your own favorite drinks at home. You must make reservations for the classes by calling 203-777-3116 if you are interested.

Where: 116 Crown Street, New Haven
Cost: As you can see, their online menu doesn’t list any prices, which drives home the point that this is a pricier venue (Yelp also confirms that it isn’t cheap). But you get what you pay for, seems to be the collective conclusion.

About the author

Timothy Stobierski

Tim Stobierski is a Connecticut native and a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a number of publishers including Taunton, Abrams, and Yale University Press. He has written for Grow Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Hartford Courant, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer was published in 2012 by River Otter Press. He is the founding editor of, a website focused on helping college students avoid and pay off their student loan debt.

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