The Third Party: Unexpected Places to Grab a Drink in Richmond 

click to enlarge You can learn to tango down the atrium of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the third Friday of the every month.

Scott Elmquist

You can learn to tango down the atrium of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the third Friday of the every month. 

Bored with the conventional brick-and-mortar bar? You can mix it up with one of these somewhat surprising and offbeat places for grabbing a cold one and having a good time.

By the sound of it, the Poe Museum’s Unhappy Hour may not sound terribly inviting, but indeed this spooky soiree is a guaranteed good time if you’re a fan of Edgar Allan’s works. On the fourth Thursday of the month, from April through October, you can corral your creepiest friends for a Southern gothic celebration. Wet your whistle with a brewski and snack on free food while enjoying live music, readings, theatrical performances, exhibits and tours of the museum. $5 admission, free for members. 6-9 p.m., 1914 E. Main St., 648-5523, poemuseum.org.

While Friday nights are always lively at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the its Friday Art and Wine happy hour, on the third Friday of each month, sultry South American music can be heard coming from the Cochrane Atrium during the museum’s tango-dancing evening. With a group of as many as 60, dancers of all ages and skill levels participate, and more experienced dancers usually provide guidance for newbies. Don’t have twinkle toes? That’s OK — you can simply grab a glass of wine and watch. 6-9 p.m., 200 N. Boulevard, 340-1400, vmfa.museum.

The days of gym juice bars have vanished. At the ACAC Fitness & Wellness Short Pump, health club members can unwind with a post-workout swim and glass of wine at the rooftop cafe and bar. From April through September, the gym holds first Friday parties on the roof with live music, and beer and wine tastings from 5-8 p.m. Kicking off the summer bashes, members can enjoy such events as “float night” — an evening spent lounging in the pool with a hard root-beer float in hand. We can’t think of a better reason to join the gym. 2201 Old Brick Road, 464-0990, acac.com/short-pump.

Area grocery stores have been stepping up their games lately, quenching the thirsts of parched shoppers with in-store bars. Just don’t let it impair your judgment: You don’t want to be grabbing the wrong toothpaste or impulsively stocking up on strange and expensive items. Grocery shopping has never been this exciting. Here are three of the options:

Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market transformed its community room last fall into the Beet, a cozy bar and self-service cafe. You can wash down your hot-bar smorgasbord with one of the six local brews on tap or wine by the glass. Uncork a bottle of wine and linger or fill up your growler to go. The local grocer’s laid-back happy hour is Thursdays and Fridays, from 4-7 p.m., with live music, $1-off draft beer and wine, and $2-off cans. Bonus: The alcohol license covers the entire store, which means you can sip while you shop. The Beet hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. A bartender is on hand Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8:30 p.m., and Saturdays, noon-8:30 p.m. If visiting during off-hours, flag down an employee to order beer or wine. 4 N. Thompson St., 359-7525, ellwoodthompsons.com.

Whole Foods Market’s in-store bar has more taps than you can shake an organic carrot at. Nearly 50 draft lines dispense an array of elixirs — four kinds of kombucha, two nitro beers, and everything from the ubiquitous Pabst Blue Ribbon to limited-release microbrews. With access to a thousand labels of beer and wine in-store, you can grab a bottle off the shelf — no corkage fee — and relax at the bar while watching one of the flat-screen TVs. Events scheduled on weeknights keep the fun going: wine class on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Meet the Brewer Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m., and for cheese nerds, you can get your vitamin-D fix every second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. Happy hour is Mondays-Fridays, 4-6 p.m., with $1-off drafts and wines by the glass. Pub hours: Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 11173 W. Broad St., 364-4050, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/shortpump.

Tucked inside the much-anticipated Wegmans, the grocery’s restaurant and 14-seat bar, the Pub, serves up craft beer, wine and cocktails mixed with premium spirits. Always rotating, there are eight draft lines with local craft and limited-edition beers. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery recently collaborated with Wegmans, brewing Evelyn, a session IPA that’s for sale exclusively at the Midlothian store. Fancy a cocktail? Try the sweet-and-sour Richmond Flying Squirreltini — Jose Cuervo Gold tequila, Cointreau, fresh lemon, lime and blood orange juice, served in a martini glass with a lime twist. Coming soon: The Pub will start tap takeovers with local breweries and other social events. Hours: Sundays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. 12501 Stone Village Way, 419-2394, wegmans.com.


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