Even Indiana Jones, famous for his dislike of snakes, would be comfortable at Snake Pit Ale House. Now considering itself Melrose Avenue’s unofficial neighborhood bar, owner John Fregosa opened this comfortable spot 25 years ago.
Along with an open air ambiance, stellar juke box, some plasma television screens and a larger wall projection screen, the attraction here is food, and of course, drink. The ale house is renowned for its beers and whiskies, with 22 beers on draft and over a hundred different kinds of whiskies.
From a 12-year-old Chivas to a more exotic 21-year-old Balvenie Portwood, it would be difficult to find another watering spot with such a wide-ranging whiskey collection from scotch to bourbon. Sure there’s Johnnie Walker and Macallan, but there’s also the peaty Laphroaig, and a Nikka Taketsuru aged 17 years with a smoky palate edged in oak and leather.
The ale house suggests flights to sample the whiskey, scotch, and bourbon, featuring one-ounce pours of four different selections. The pairings are innovative: the America Bottled in Bond flight includes Mello Yellow Corn, Henry McKenna, and Evan Williams both white and black label; High Western World features High West Rendezvous Rye, High West Son of Bourye, and High West American Prairie and High West Campfire bourbons. There are whiskey cocktails, too, like the Al Lampone, with Belle Meade, Galliano, rhubarb bitters, and black raspberry liqueur, or the Jim Beam Ghost silver whiskey with a spicy dash of habanero lime syrup, passion fruit syrup, fresh lime juice, and habanero hot sauce over ice – topped with soda water to put out the fire. Non-whiskey drinkers needn’t feel left out, from a Bellini to a Boston Side Car, you’re covered.
Of course with a name like “ale house,” draft beer is a strong draw at this convivial watering spot. From conventional on-tap items like Blue Moon and Guinness to edgier offerings like Alaskan White Hef and Green Flash IPA, there are brews to suit any taste. There’s a strong wine list and an extensive selection of bottled beers, too.
The daily happy hour – yes, daily – runs from 3 to 8 p.m. and includes well drinks, beers, wine, and tasty eats like artisan pizza and the bar’s “famous” nachos made with cheddar cheese, black beans, guac, sour cream, and fresh chipotle salsa.
The regular menu is also appealing, with a made-from-scratch vegan black bean chili to which organic chicken or Angus beef can be added, to polenta fries made with Pomodoro sauce and Parmesan cheese. There are quesadillas, turkey meatballs, and shrimp ceviche, too, plus a range of salads and sandwiches. Arguably among the most popular entrees on the menu are the Street Taco Platter, which can be served as vegetarian, beef, chicken, or pulled pork. Burgers are also a winner, with the classic Angus patty vying with veggie and turkey choices – all of them made from scratch in the ale house’s kitchen. It’s the toppings that may be the strongest draw however: diners can choose four from a long list that includes jalapenos, avocado, mushrooms, bacon, grilled onion, fried egg, and coleslaw.
Owner Fregosa wanted bar food to be not just comfort food or good with a drink, but made from scratch and inclusive of tasty and healthier veg options, too. The restaurant prides itself on having organic and free range chicken, grass-fed beef, fresh seafood and organic dairy.
But along with the tasty eats and whiskey tastings, the Snake Pit Ale House offers up something more: a friendly spot where even Indy could relax.