Bar profile: Bakersfield born out of rock’s rebels

By Columbus Alive
From the October 31, 2013 edition

Since Bakersfield is the hottest new hot spot in Columbus, we’re giving our take on both the food and the booze. The Short North neo-saloon does both pretty damn well.

The entire identity of Bakersfield (with locations in Cincinnati and Indianapolis) is inspired by the rock ’n’ roll and honky-tonk rebels who birthed the Bakersfield sound.

“We started thinking about the Bakersfield sound era of music .... and trying to embody [its] sound and spirit,” said John Lanni, who co-founded Bakersfield with his brother Joe and friend Alex Blust. “Those were the guys getting arrested and slinging shots of whiskey. We’re just trying to embody that rebellious spirit.”

Well, Bakersfield is a not a place you’re going to see nightly whiskey/tequila-fueled bar fights — it is a fairly swanky space on the corner of Buttles and High — but you may feel like acting slightly more debauched while there.

Most of the space is wide open and feels designed for mingling in a crowd, which you’ll be experiencing for at least the next few weeks, while puttin’ down a few. There are a number of tables if you want to sit down for a meal, but those are mostly situated on the perimeter of the space. The L-shaped bar is the epicenter and is surrounded by a good amount of empty space behind the stools.

With a plethora of solid options behind the bar, drinking at Bakersfield is effortless. There are about 50 different American whiskeys (mostly of the bourbon variety) and tequilas available. The selections run the gamut from economical ($3 daily shot specials) to high-end premium ($25-$30 shots).

“I think we have some of the more affordable liquor pricing out there. [$6 for Buffalo Trace] is a good example; another place may be selling it for $8 or $9,” Lanni said.

Bakersfield also has a few wines and a decent beer selection. Though I’m guessing most people order the $2 PBR drafts served in cowboy boot glasses — yeah kitsch. There are also a couple cocktails in the barrel-aged Manhattan ($12) and margaritas ($6 house, $12 premium).