As many have commented already, Put-In-Bay is known for heavy drinking, youthful mistakes, bachelor/bachelorette parties, drinking, a certain level of acceptable rowdiness, and drinking. In fairness, I was last there 15 years ago, and this time I was here during the COVID lockdowns, on the day when the governor of Ohio decided to push the liquor board to move last call forward 4 hours. In a small community that is dependent on tourism dollars, this was not a popular move.
In the “downtown” area, there are over a dozen bars within a couple blocks. You have your choice as to the type of bar you want to be in, as long as you want relatively inexpensive drinks, local musicians, and island-chic decore. The bars price most of their drinks for maximum throughput for the bartenders. As an example, most of the bars will have all beers be $6. That will be a 12 ounce can of craft or a 16 ounce can of standard American lager. Ciders, hard seltzers, frozen drinks, and rum based cocktails are also common.
There’s quite a few kitschy places on the island, one of which is Mojito Bay, they are a bar in downtown that is mostly outdoors, with several inches of sand to cover the ground with. They (obviously) focus on mojitos and various flavor mixes on them. They also have a cider made by the brewery down the street that is mojito flavored (according to the girlfriend). One of the standard jokes at this establishment is based on the Commodore Perry flag (DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP), at the bar they have some swings hanging up where you can sit. So, if you manage to snag one of them… (ok… it was raining off and on that day):
There are some areas that you can walk down to the water, either through stairs, or on some “beaches”:
One of the world records that is documented in Put-In-Bay is the world’s longest bar, sitting at the Beer Barrel Bar. It’s also one of the largest bars on the island. The below is from a weekend afternoon. Previously, there used to be lines to get into this bar. The shutdown has hurt them… a lot.
We did get to experience some of the shady and sketchy items that could happen on the island when some strip club owner from Florida invited us to a “private” after hours party. The bartenders immediately knew who it was and laughed at the description of “sketchy guy”. This Florida Man was enough of an ass to “make it rain” on the solo musician providing live music. After he walked away, and the patrons helped her collect the money, she joked that she got paid and didn’t have to take her clothes off… so she counted it a win.
You do need somewhere to sleep at night, I would recommend either going the cottage/house route or the B&B route. This was the back yard of the B&B we chose:
If the regular bars aren’t your style, and you have a swimming pool ready body, there are a couple of swim up cocktail bars on the island. As neither the girlfriend nor I have that kind of body, we did not go that route. Most of these are geared towards the younger people, and are on resorts. There is one speakeasy bar on the island, which we did not make it to, so I can’t comment on their drinks.
Based on conversations I had with staff, owners, residents and regulars the tourism was down between 50-75% since the 4th of July. It was doing alright previous to that (down about 10-20%) but there was a reported COVID outbreak on the island which scared some people off. I’m fairly certain that none of the staff, owners, or tourism dependent people on the island will be voting for DeWine in two years.
With the lockdowns continuing, there’s a decent chance that I may be able to convince the girlfriend to take another weekend trip here before the summer is over. If any of you are interested in meeting up there, I’ll gladly stand for the first round.