TGIF: The Growler

growler oxford msBy Danny Toma, staff writer

As a college town, Oxford has never lacked for a place to drink, even back when it was not legal to do so. There are all manner of student bars, sports bars, and music bars, where the common theme is large crowds, loud noise, and good times–some of which might even be remembered the next day.

But one thing Oxford had been lacking was a quiet place to enjoy a drink–a place where you could go to have a civilized conversation with friends or even relax by yourself to contemplate life and what it has to offer. No longer. Since September of 2014, Oxford is now home to the Growler, a craft beer bar for those of us who are looking for high quality beers and ales and a pleasant place in which to enjoy them.

Business is growing by leaps and bounds at Growler, showing that the bar has fulfilled a long-time need in Oxford, and it’s no surprise. Their taps dispense beer of the highest craftsmanship, and, what’s more, they have a commitment to highlighting Mississippi beers. Mississippi beers? Absolutely! The craft brew movement has really taken off in the Magnolia State, and you can now find as good a beer produced here as anywhere else in the country. Brewers such as Yalobusha (located just down the road in Water Valley), Lucky Town (Jackson), Lazy Magnolia (Kiln), Southern Prohibition (Hattiesburg), and Crooked Legrowler oxford ms 3tter (Ocean Springs) are all featured at the Growler, which typically dedicates between one-third and one-half its taps to Mississippi beers.

The rest of the taps are mostly filled with other regional brews, such as Abita, Wiseacre, Yazoo, and Sweetwater, but these rotate more regularly. Some of the more popular national craft beers, such as Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada, are also often available. Not a beer drinker? Don’t worry. The Growler is now carrying Memphis’ own Smith and Forge cider. For the designated drivers and teetotalers among you, they have Abita’s very fine root beer on draught. For solid sustenance, the Growler features an ever-changing menu of food items, ranging from sandwiches (using Oxford’s own Honeybee Bakery breads) to various types of bar foods.

growler oxford ms 4New events are in the works for the Growler. They’ve recently acquired a dual-chamber infusion system for flavoring beer and plan on holding weekly events where they pair a particular brew with a flavoring agent to provide completely new taste experiences – think white chocolate with chocolate stout, or, even more daringly, cheesecake with Abita strawberry ale. In addition to this, Monday nights are soon to be “Cards Against Humanity” nights, where the popular party game will be played with prizes given to winners.

The Growler is located at 265 N.  Lamar Blvd., Suite Y (behind Highpoint Coffee) and is open Monday through Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m. They are also open to hosting group events (such as private tastings); just drop them a line at

And if you can’t get enough of the wonderful beers while there, true to their name, they have “growlers” available – half gallon jugs for transporting beer. Buy a growler and select your favorite brew to fill it; you’ll have it to enjoy at home for the times you just can’t make it downtown.


About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to on a regular basis.

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TGIF: snackbar

In our new TGIF feature, we spend a few moments familiarizing you with cocktail/drink menus around Oxford. This week, we take a look at the beverage menu at snackbar (located at 721 North Lamar, next door to Big Bad Breakfast).

Several years ago, my friend Tracy and I started the tradition of going out for drinks every Friday after work. When snackbar opened and we discovered its rotating seasonal cocktail menu–and skilled bartenders like Jayce (now bartending in S. Carolina) and Brian–it became our regular hangout. Because of this, I’ve tried just about every cocktail–if not every cocktail–on the snackbar menu. Don’t read that as me being a lush. It has taken years, and many menu rotations for me to make my way through it, but I’m now able to go in and know which cocktails pack a punch, which are best for sipping over an hour of “girl talk,” and which I can have three of without thinking twice.

So, with that said, let’s take a look at the snackbar winter menu….


Going to snackbar to grab a Bud Light doesn’t make any sense. You have highly skilled bartenders who can make you whatever you can dream up–on or off the menu–so unless you really detest liquor, go the cocktail route.

I also recommend sitting at the bar, if there’s a seat available. There’s an art to crafting a cocktail, and personally, I enjoy watching a drink come together, from the pouring to the mixing to the spices and garnish that finish it off. I compare it to dining in a restaurant with an open kitchen, except you’re watching them craft your drink instead of cook your meal.

The new Chai Bourbon Hot Toddy warms me up on a cold day with its blend of house chai bourbon, local honey, lemon and cinnamon. And usually, if I start out with one type of liquor I’ll stick with it. So from the Chai Bourbon Hot Toddy I may continue with The Mamie, which features peach-infused bourbon, Blue Moon Belgium White and a pickled peach garnish. Whatever I choose, Tracy usually orders something different, which I sample before ordering the next round.


Snackbar’s bar hours are Monday through Saturday 4 p.m. to Midnight and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Have you been to snackbar for a cocktail? Tell us what you recommend in the comments below.


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TGIF: Tapas Bar

tapas drinks page 1tapas drinks page 2In our new TGIF feature, we’ll spend a few moments familiarizing you with cocktail/drink menus around Oxford. This week, we’re taking a look at the beverage menu at Tapas Bar (located in the former location of Lusa Pastry Cafe at 1120 N. Lamar Blvd.)

Since it is a tapas bar, you’ll find the expected red and white wine sangria; Brazil’s Caipirinha; and a twist on the Brazilian Caipiroska. Additionally, there’s a full wraparound bar offering additional cocktails, wines and beers. You have the option of grabbing a table and some tapas, or saddling up to the bar for a closer look at the liquor offerings.

I’m hoping to see additional sangria selections and Portuguese-inspired cocktails in the future.

Tapas Bar is open Tuesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday/Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight., Brunch is Sat/Sun 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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New Class: Exploring Sparkling Wines

wine bar class flyerJoin and The Wine Bar for a Tuesday, Dec. 30 class at The Wine Bar!

Event: Exploring Sparkling Wines
Date: Tuesday, December 30
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Place: The Wine Bar, 401 S. Lamar
Price: $35 per person; includes four sparkling wines, freshly baked bread and a pairing of small appetizers.

Purchase Tickets Here

The Wine Bar is teaming up with to present Exploring Sparkling Wines, just in time for New Year’s Eve festivities.

In this class, you will taste and learn about four (4) sparkling wines, including an American (Domain Michelle extra-dry), Italian (Ecco Domani Prosecco), Spanish (Jaume Serra Crystalino Cava), and French (Dumangin et Fils Champagne Cuvee’ 17).

Reservations: There are only 20 spots available for this class so reserve your space now by purchasing a ticket through the PayPal link here.
Questions? Call The Wine Bar at 662-238-3500 or email Liz Foster at at


Exploring Southern Wines in Oxford

wine photo danny tomoBy Danny Toma, staff writer

Going local is one of the hottest trends in the world of food and drinks, and what better way to accompany that plate of Mississippi food than with a good Southern wine? While the climate in much of the South is not conducive to the growing of vinifera grapes, there are some exceptions in neighboring states, and, if one likes muscadine wine, that bottle can even be from Mississippi. Old South Winery, established in Natchez in 1979 is the state’s sole winery, using exclusively Mississippi muscadine grapes, and it is readily available for purchase in Oxford.

Because of Mississippi’s alcohol laws, stores are limited in what they can sell to whatever the State warehouse has on offer, but there is still a fair amount of variety to be had. The following is a list of Oxford package stores that sell wine produced in the South:

Stores carrying Old South only: Leonardo’s Wine and Spirits, The Whiskey Still, Kiamie’s, West Jackson Wine and Spirits, CM Package Store, and P.J.’s Wine and Liquor.

Poppa’s Wine and Spirits has a rather impressive collection of Southern wines that includes Old South, Ozan (Calera, Alabama), Post (Altus, Arkansas), Vizzini Farms (Calera, Alabama – their “Rebel Red” and “Rebel White” feature a character who looks suspiciously similar to a certain mascot who once frequented Vaught-Hemingway), and Biltmore Estates (Asheville, North Carolina). They also were quick to claim Krutz Family Cellars wines of the Russian River Valley, California as a “Southern” wine in their book, despite its geographic provenance, as the three brothers who run this winery are all Ole Miss alums.

Star Package Store also has a similarly impressive collection, carrying Post, Ozan, and Vizzini wines, as well as blackberry wine from St. James Winery in St. James, Missouri (which qualifies as Southern depending on which map you prefer).

Rebel Wine and Spirits has recently expanded its wine selection and has not neglected its Southern heritage, carrying Old South, Post, and Biltmore Estates, with Vizzini wines currently on back order.

The fairly new package store, Magnolia Wine and Spirits does not carry any Southern wines in their regular stock, but helpfully offered to order anything they could get from the State warehouse.

One final note: I did not count the now relatively easy to find Tula Wines of the Oxford Wine Company as Southern since they are actually California wines. Even so, it is hard to pass up a bottle that has the image of the Lafayette County courthouse right on the label.


About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to on a regular basis.

All is New Again at Rooster’s Blues House

roosters signIf you haven’t been to Rooster’s Blues House lately, you haven’t been.

A new kitchen, new menu, new chef (Jeff Robertson), and new specials are all beckoning new and seasoned customers up those familiar wooden steps and onto the balcony of Rooster’s Blues House at 114 Courthouse Square.

Owner Scott Michael says that the newly condensed menu focuses on three amazing burgers, wings, smoked barbecue nachos and Rotel house fries. “Our Coldwater River burger is a hefty 16 ounces of meat topped with bacon, jalapenos, Rotel, and homemade barbecue sauce,” says Michael. “We want people to know they can come here for burgers, fries and wings and find the best prices on The Square.”roosters menu

And speaking of great prices, every Tuesday night, Rooster’s Blues House offers every item on its menu for only $5, and Monday nights have become famous for 25 cent wings and $3 pitchers of beer.

Rooster’s regularly hosts live music on the weekends and tunes into the Ole Miss game on the televisions, but did you also know that you can  grab dinner there any night of the week and enjoy lunch on the weekends? The kitchen is open 7 days a week, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday to Sunday the doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the lunch crowd.

Don’t miss happy hour and late-night drink specials, and keep up with the latest food specials and band appearances via the Rooster’s Blues House Facebook and Twitter pages.








Coffee Samples at High Point Tonight

chemex (2)Have you ever tried coffee made with a Chemex brewer before? High Point Coffee on The Square will be introducing Oxford to this unique way of brewing coffee tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 21) from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. via demonstrations and free samples.

High Point manager Adam Saunders invited in for a sneak peek of the system yesterday and says that while Chemex brewing has been going on for years, it’s something that isn’t available anywhere nearby. The process incorporates freshly ground coffee beans and a barista who uses special equipment to manually pour hot water, 100 grams at a time, over the coffee.

I had never heard of Chemex brewing before. I drink coffee, but that’s about as far as it goes. I found that the slower brewing from the Chemex gave the coffee a more pure taste, if that’s possible. I’m no coffee expert, but I noticed a difference.

Saunders says that High Point will begin by offering Chemex-brewed coffee on afternoons during the week, and eventually serve it every day as demand grows.

Taste it for yourself tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.




Coming Soon: Tapas Bar

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Oxford’s New Restaurants

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Cellar Undergoes Remodel

cellarHave you been by the Cellar recently? For those wondering, it’s the lower-level bar of The Levee, which was, for a short time, called McCarthy’s Irish Pub, and then changed back to the Cellar.

Turns out the bar is currently undergoing a remodel, so we checked in with executive partner/co-founder/manager Seth Klein for the inside scoop. How long has The Cellar been open and why have you decided to remodel?

Seth: The bar itself has been around since 2007, but in early 2012 the decision was made to venture away from the Cellar theme and it was turned into McCarthy’s Irish Pub. After much deliberation, we decided that McCarthy’s was not a good fit and we wanted to bring the Cellar back due to the success it had previously. Therefore, we decided it would be best to give the bar a whole new look and feel instead of just changing the name. What changes will be made during the remodel?

Seth: The entire bar is undergoing a remodel. We are adding new flooring and seating as well as making multiple changes throughout, which will help bring the feel of an upscale martini lounge to the historic Oxford square. How long will the remodel take?

Seth: About one month. The remodel is scheduled for completion in early to mid-August 2014. Will The Levee be affected at all?

Seth: The Levee will not be affected. The Cellar is closed until the remodel is complete, but the Levee is open for business as usual. Will the menus at the Cellar change after the remodel?

Seth: Yes. The overall goal is to focus on great martinis and great cocktails. Our martini menu and specialty drink menu will offer a wide variety of new and exciting beverages to enjoy. We plan to use fresh juices and fruits as well for many of the drinks we are adding to our menu. We also have plans to add new beers, some of which will be catered to customers trying to live a little healthier. We also plan to add a bunch of great items to our food menu.


Juicing Class: June 18

juicingEating Oxford Institute Kicks Off This Month!, in partnership with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and Oxford Park Commission is offering monthly food-centric classes starting in June.

The first class, Juicing for Health and Energy, with Melody Sharp, owner of Oxford-based Living Foods (formerly Local Flavor), will be held Wednesday, June 18 at The Powerhouse from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25/pp

This class will begin with a short primer on the benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables, as Melody illustrates how juicing can increase energy and improve overall health and mood. Attendees will sample juices as Melody reveals her top tips for combining fruits and vegetables to create tasty combinations. All ticket holders will leave the class with a full-size juice and a coupon toward another juice at Living Foods.

Seating is limited to 40 people. Secure your tickets here. Members receive a $5 discount on all classes. Email for more details.

Contact with any questions.


Opening Soon: The Wine Bar

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Movie Nights at Lamar Lounge

movie night 1Have you been to Lamar Lounge for the new Monday Movie Nights?

Each movie night features a special cocktail, and free popcorn is always included.

Check out the schedules for April and May included here and we’ll see you at the movies!

movie night 2

Saturday, April 19: Oxford Craft Beer Festival

beer fest 1This coming Saturday from noon to 6:00 p.m. marks the 2nd Annual Oxford Craft Beer Festival and this year promises some awesome additions.

  • Unlimited sampling of 140+ beers
  • Free souvenir mug
  • Live entertainment
  • Gamesbeer fest 2
  • Food vendors
  • Beer/Food pairing demonstrations by local chefs
  • Arts and crafts vendors
  • Live pizza competition sponsored by PMQ Pizza Magazine
  • Live home brewing demonstrations
  • VIP Lounge

Location: Colonel’s Quarters at Castle Hill

Time: Noon to 6:00 p.m. (VIP ticket holders enter early)

More info: Visit the Oxford Beer Fest site for information and Tickets

April 19: Oxford Craft Beer Festival

Oxford Craft Beer Festival officialStory by Katherine Baily; photos provided by Oxford Beer Festival

The 2nd Annual Oxford Craft Beer Festival is coming up on Saturday, April 19, and with more than 140 craft beer selections, a Southeast pizza competition, food/beer pairings and more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the popular festival being held at Colonel’s Quarters on Highway 6.

Oxford Craft Beer Festival organizer Darryl Parker is excited about this year’s new additions. Not only will there be new craft beer selections, but also a Southeastern Pizza Cookoff, where pizza chefs from all over the southeast come together to compete for the title of Best Pizza in the Southeast, with the winner joining the U.S. Pizza Team.

There will also be a home brewers section of the festival where brewers from Mississippi and Tennessee can discuss home brewing and see demonstrations of the fest 3

For foodies, along with the pizza tasting, local chefs will prepare recipes specifically developed to compliment certain local beer selections and festivalgoers are welcome to taste each chef’s sampling. As a sponsor of the festival, is especially excited about all the different food options. Similar to last year, food vendors will be on the grounds selling more delicious creations (Be aware, most take cash only, so stop by an ATM before you get to the festival).

Hours: The Oxford Craft Beer Festival runs from Noon until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, with the last beer poured at 5:45 p.m. An Early Bird event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with VIP ticket holders invited to enter at 10 a.m.

Tickets: General Admission is $45 with $15 for Designated Drivers tickets. VIP tickets are $75 with $25 for Designated Drivers. Early Bird tickets are $25.

Ticketholdebeer fest 4rs are provided all the beer they can sample, food sampling on a first come first serve basis (local chef samples are guaranteed for VIP ticket holders) and other event activities.

Last year, the festival was a huge success, with more than 900 attendees, and this year, the festival is expected to reach even higher numbers, so be sure to get your tickets early!

Visit for more information, and don’t forget to bring a pretzel necklace to “cleanse your palate” while sampling various brews.

Katherine Bailey is a freelance writer from Oxford now based in Atlanta.