By Dr. Ink
What was previously the sterile, short-lived Heights Tavern has now become a cutesy themed bar and restaurant under different ownership called The Rabbit Hole.
The huge, open layout remains the same. Ditto for a cluster of multiple flat screens looming over the central bar. But new communal high tops (some with comfy upholstered benches) and a splashy mural of armed rabbits standing guard over a portal into the unknown are among the fresh design elements that were sorely needed here.
In addition, a glowing neon sign of the word “Normal” is perched on the back wall as a friendly nod to the Normal Heights community. Visible from Adams Avenue, it stands in for the lack of outdoor signage.
Further back on an open patio carpeted in green turf are more tables and ample space for playing cornhole, should alcohol help you better succeed at sinking your beanbag into a single hole from 30 feet away. Miraculously, it worked for me.
The owners of The Rabbit Hole also operate Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach. Both joints offer varied selections of craft drafts, wines on tap and signature cocktails.
But only at The Rabbit Hole will you find a Collier’s mule combining absinthe and vodka with ginger beer bitters, not to mention the tequila-infused “Rabbit Hole Paloma” made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and agave nectar.
Or how about a basil bunny? Guys who dismiss it as a “chick drink” because of the name are dead wrong. Served in a rocks glass, the recipe unites fresh lemon juice with a generous pour of Tito’s Vodka, a few strawberry slices and an earthy crowning of basil leaves. It’s refreshing and sluggable.
Specialty cocktails, select wines and all beers on tap are priced at $5 apiece during happy hour. The rotating beer list on this visit yielded many of the usual suspects such as Stone Go To IPA, Alesmith X and Lost Abbey Devotion. With more than a dozen to choose from, I might have ventured into less chartered suds with the piney, floral Ninkasi Tricerahops, a lauded double IPA from Oregon. But the bunny juice in my glass kept me sated.
It’s a pity that food isn’t discounted, although I’d need multiple cocktails before chomping into the ground rabbit sliders listed on the main menu. Conversely, things like Wisconsin white cheddar curds, called “cotton tail bites,” or the “hole artichokes” might keep me imbibing (and spending) longer if they ever make it into the happy hour program.