To me, Chapel Tavern exists somewhere in the middle of locals’ hotspot and worthy tourist destination. Located in the heart of Midtown, it’s easy to see how this quaint yet classy bar could easily summon passersby. Between the open patio and the dark but cozy inside, the vibes are right at Chapel every day of the week.
That being said, it’s also a mainstay for long-time locals who either discovered the spot in their younger years of bar hopping or have come to call it a go-to for date nights.
The bar features an impressive wall of liquors, one towering high above the bartop so bartenders have to use ladders to get to the rare offerings. It also somehow offers this very laid back atmosphere where you can strike up a conversation with your seatmate or one of the bartenders and feel like part of the family.
At the same time, there is an upscale quality most apparent in their craft cocktails.
At Chapel, you can order just about anything. Local brews are certainly a selling point of the establishment whether it’s midday or midnight, but there are also wines sold by the glass. The real magic lies in the cocktail program, with everything from specialty drinks with seasonal flair and that take a lot of care to concoct to your run-of-the-mill vodka soda or gin and tonic.
Scotch, bourbon and whiskey connoisseurs are sure to be impressed by the seemingly ever-expanding library of options to wet their very particular whistles. While other bars nearby may provide a handful of suitable options, Chapel is filled with them.
One of my favorite ways to order a drink at Chapel is bartender’s choice. Tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for—gin, whiskey, vodka—and let them create a drink just for you. It takes a lot of the pressure off of ordering, and usually there are a few follow-up questions. The bartenders are also very trustworthy. Thus far I haven’t been led astray or served up Jim Beam with a pickleback when taking this approach.
With so many options, it can be hard to recommend go-to cocktails. Everything is well presented, in appropriate glassware and donning garnishes. The Bloody Marys are a treat to the eyes, and the stomach, while negronis are also a popular and well-done choice (made with gin, vermouth and campari, typically). However, mezcal versions and white negronis are also a solid choice.
This is also the type of establishment where you can let yourself be a little bougie. I personally like to order an old fashioned or a dirty martini at Chapel knowing the team will do it justice.
A seasonal cocktail menu offers additional ideas. One of the newest drinks to hit? A Doctor Visits – a bright yellow sipper made from gin, house-infused garlic chartreuse, lemon, turmeric and ginger.
If you want to be inspired, follow along on social media. New drink options are often loaded onto the colorful Instagram, as well as beer releases, event details and more.
1099 S. Virginia St., Reno, Nev.
Monday – Friday 2 p.m. to Close
Saturday – Sunday 10 a.m. to Close
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.