Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
Cool Bookish Places

5 Brilliant Bookstore-Bars

Aram Mrjoian

Staff Writer

Aram Mrjoian is a contributor at Book Riot and the Chicago Review of Books. His reviews and essays have also appeared in Necessary Fiction, The Adroit Journal blog, and The Awesome Mitten. His stories are published or forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Limestone, The Great Lakes Book Project, and others. He is currently working toward his MFA in creative writing at Northwestern University, where he is a fiction editor at TriQuarterly. Twitter: @AMrjoian575

One of my favorite quotes by James Joyce is, “The sacred pint alone can unbind the tongue.” For me at least, reading books and casually drinking have always gone well together. After all, what’s better than sitting down with a cold beer or glass of wine (or occasionally a liberal tumbler of bourbon) and reading a great book? Luckily for all us lovers of literature, there is a new trend in the bookstore world: the bookstore equipped with a bar. Here’s a list of five great bookstore pubs.

White Horse Trading Co., Seattle, Washington: White Horse Trading Co. is buried in Post Alley, clandestinely located right next to the infamous Pike Place Market. It’s within walking distance of a lot of the great sights in downtown Seattle, while being a bit less touristy than waiting for an hour in line at the flagship Starbucks located a block over. It has an awesome nostalgic quality due to both its surreptitious location and its decor.

BookBar, Denver, Colorado: I had the privilege of going to BookBar while I was out in Denver over the summer. The book selection is great, as are the rotating taps and collection of bottled Colorado beers. They also have a great wine list, and the majority of their food is cleverly named after literary legends. I was amazed and delighted by the graciousness and amicability of their staff. Also, their enormous desk made of books, pictured below, is incredibly beautiful.

Books & Brews, Indianapolis, Indiana: This brand new literary pub was inspired by The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, which is included later on in this list. Jason Wuerfel, the owner, is a bookstore enthusiast, but also wise to the financial challenges of opening an independent bookstore. His answer to the risk? Balance it out with a perennial bestseller, beer. To make this even cooler, all the beers are brewed on site, making it a true bookstore brewery.

Elements: Books Coffee Beer, Biddeford, Maine: This might be the coolest sign I’ve ever seen. They have a tremendous list of local and regional beers on tap and in bottles. They also have wine, coffee, and an array of charcuterie and cheeses. (And of course books) Elements has me seriously considering a road trip.


The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, Hudson, New York: Built in a refurbished firehouse, a local historic landmark, they pride themselves on a local selection of beer and wine. They also sell art supplies, making The Spotty Dog the type of eclectic salon that has something for everyone. Throw in the fact that they host live music, and it becomes obvious that The Spotty Dog is a community staple.

I think these type of bookstores are great for the community. In my mind, they encourage curious readers, provide another venue for local arts, and connect the great pastimes of social drinking and introverted reading. What better way to loosen our tongues and talk about the great books we love?


Book Riot Live is coming! Join us for a two-day event full of books, authors, and an all around good time. It’s the convention for book lovers that we’ve always wanted to attend. So we are doing it ourselves.