Favorite drink

FIRST: Barrio’s Margarita

Start the night off strong with one of Barrio’s classic party drinks, and pair it with some of their specialty tacos.

For the adventurous, try the Sweet Gingerita with ginger liqueur, lychee purée and a ginger sugar rim. For a more familiar taste, go with the Margarita Perfecto, a citrus blend of Avion Silver tequila, orange Curaçao, fresh lime juice and Grand Marnier orange cognac floated on top.

This is Barrio’s Margarita which was voted the favorite drink in Kent during 2022. (Morgan McGrath)

“My personal favorite is the margarita perfecto. It’s what the name is, it’s a perfect margarita,” said manager Carmen Bonamico. “We use the highest shelf of tequila for them. And people seem to respond well, you know, they love their booze.” 

While the margaritas bring the people through the door, it’s everything else about Barrio that keeps them coming back.

“[Barrio] has a little combination of it all. I think that it has an atmosphere that’s inviting for everybody, all groups of people, young and old,” Bonamico said. “There’s usually an upbeat atmosphere. A lot of people respond well to the music that’s playing, everyone seems to be vibing with it. … It’s a good fun place, a good college town bar.”

SECOND: The Loft Tavern’s Hulk

The owner of The Loft Tavern, Brad Patterson, insists the ingredients of their monstrous green drink are a trade secret, but anyone is allowed to come in and watch the bartenders make this famous drop shot. What’s really important, he stressed, is the presentation.

“They taste really good, and they look very nice. So the presentation, that’s what it’s really all about.” Patterson said. “When people, you know, see eight of them going by, a guy walks by and he’s got four in each hand, they go ‘What’s that? I want that!’”

This is Loft’s Hulk which was voted the second most favorite drink in Kent during 2022. (Morgan McGrath)

With its dark green hue, The Hulk is an eye catcher in a bar full of beer and ordinary cocktails. That color also makes it the perfect drink for Fake Paddy’s Day. Another recommendation from Patterson, and their second most popular drink, is the red, white and blue Rocket Pop.

“We’ve been doing The Hulk and the Rocket Pop for over 10 years, and people just love them,” Patterson said. “We rotate the other drinks in and out occasionally, just for different things, but they can’t post the numbers for us like The Hulk and Rocket Pop do.”

THIRD: Ray’s Place Long Island Iced Tea

Eight decades in a college town is enough time to figure out what college kids like to drink, and even after all that time, students still come back to Ray’s for the long island.

“A lot of kids go here today, their parents went here, maybe their grandparents even went here. So, Ray’s has been around, and the long island iced tea has been very popular now for quite a few years,” owner Charlie Thomas said. “And we make it from scratch. In other words, we don’t use a mix or anything like that. We do it ourselves.”

Thomas said the composition of the drink is simple: rum, vodka, gin, Coke, sour mix, Triple Sec and lemon–but the secret ingredient to what makes this cocktail so special is the comfortable, homey atmosphere Ray’s has served up for generations of Kent State students.

Ray’s Long Island Iced Tea, a popular drink at local restaurant and bar Ray’s Place. This photo was taken by Brynne Lathrop in 2019.

Wyatt Loy is a reporter. Contact them at [email protected]