420 S. 11th St.; open noon-2 a.m. daily (happy hour 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday)
A neighborhood staple. The Old Pub has stood for 37 years in the strip of businesses on 11th Street, near K and L streets, but that's not to say things never change. The bar was founded at 308 S. 11th St., which now houses the College of Hair Design. Since losing its initial lease in 1985, The Old Pub has drifted south. For years it occupied 408 S. 11th St. (now home to the Hot Mess). In 2014, it found its current home two doors down, next to Method Cycles & Craft House.
A bustling block. "It's kind of an up-and-coming area right now," Old Pub co-owner Mike Schmidt said of the neighborhood. "It's not O Street, but it's still downtown. We get a good mix of people." That stretch of 11th Street houses seven bars, with more moving in. "I consider it to be a neighborhood, small-town bar in a downtown setting," said Schmidt, who along with Doug Litz took over ownership of The Old Pub five years ago.
Familiar faces. Schmidt estimates at least 60 percent of those who walk into The Old Pub are regulars. They range in age from 25 to 75 and order the same drinks the same way every time they visit. It's a "comfy place" for people to hang out, Schmidt said, and a lot of his regular customers keep coming back because of the bartenders. "We try to hire people who are more willing to engage with customers and not just stand behind the bar making drinks all day," he said. The staff makes it a priority to maintain the bar's clean, accessible appearance. The nice bathrooms are a pleasant surprise for people who frequent Lincoln's college bars.
Super secret special bloody mary recipe. The Old Pub is known for an infamous bloody mary recipe created by long-time bartender and manager Danny Young. He was the face of the bar for decades after it opened in 1978, Schmidt said. Young died a year and a half ago, but the Old Pub continues to use his bloody mary mix. A Sunday special, it owes its unique taste to a blend of spices. It's also poured in a secret way, which is said to contribute to the flavor. "But really, a big part of its popularity was Danny," Schmidt said. The drink is served with a beer back. And Sundays are a good day to visit The Old Pub, with $1 off every drink. The $2 Miller High Lifes are also popular among patrons.
Old Pub Soul Club. On the last Saturday of the month, The Old Pub turns into a funky club. Sequins, fur, hoop earrings and jumpsuits fill the space on Soul Night as everyone from college students to business professionals break it down to Motown, jazz and funk on the dance floor. All the music comes from vinyl records spun by local DJ group "The Gettin' Hipper Fun Bunch," led by Rik Minnick. The music usually packs the bar from 9:30 p.m. until close these nights, Schmidt said. It's a fun time for people who love oldies.
— Hana Muslic
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