It's the night before Thanksgiving and all your friends are in town. Your responsibilities the next day, however, determine your night's plans. Do you have to be alert enough to dodge Uncle David or will mom and dad pamper you while you sit on the couch and inhale mashed potatoes? You need to keep these scenarios in mind before you go all out. Let us help you.
You have reached that level where there is no going back. You know you will be worshiping the porcelain god tomorrow, with no hope of sampling Grandma's pecan pie, so it's all or nothing. You don't care what you do, how much trouble it will get you in and who will see you do it. YOLO is your new motto and all of a sudden it sounds like a really good idea to get it tattooed somewhere on your body with your new best bud, Chad. Turn down for what? Turn down for nothing, Lil' Jon. NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!
We recommend: Lady Godiva's/Stud's (234 Market Ave. SW, Grand Rapids), Odyssey Entertainment (700 E. Broadway Ave., Muskegon), Deja Vu (1336 Ravine Rd., Kalamazoo Township)
LEVEL: MY ONLY RESPONIBILITY TOMORROW IS TO LAY ON THE COUCH, WATCH FOOTBALL AND EAT
You're living the good life. Your friends are in town, you have the day off tomorrow and the only thing you have to prepare is a list of things you're thankful for or else you might get a stern look from Mom. You may be mega-hungover tomorrow, but if your biggest responsibilities include laying around in sweats, continually eating and watching football, well, what better hangover conditions than that, my friend? Live it up, have fun, but not too much fun where you'll have to be bailed out of jail or spend the entire day in the bathroom. Come on, at least try not to disappoint your parents.
We recommend: Waldo's (1408 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo), Rocky's Bar & Grill (633 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids), Parrots Lounge (234 S. River Ave., Holland), Rumors (69 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids)
LEVEL: YOU SEE YOUR EX
OK, you need to be responsible enough to update your family on what you've been doing for the past 11 months. But Jesus Christ on a motorcycle, your ex just walked into the bar and there is NO WAY you can be sober for this. Let's see. How many Fireball shots can you take and still be coherent enough to tell Uncle Don for the eighth time what you do for a living. In the meantime, look like you are having the best time and whatever you do, do not make eye contact.
We recommend: The Meanwhile (1005 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids), Shakespeare's Pub (241 E. Kalamazoo Ave. #10, Kalamazoo), The Holiday Bar (801 5th St. NW, Grand Rapids)
LEVEL: AWKWARD FAMILY MEMBERS YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IN FIVE YEARS WILL BE HERE IN LESS THAN 12 HOURS
Don't think, just drink. You'll have plenty of time to deal with Aunt K. later. For now, just focus on having a good time, because who knows what kind of time you will be having tomorrow. Don't punish yourself the next day, however. Have fun and play it safe at the same time. Make sure you're following the important rules for avoiding a hangover the next day: A glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, go for clear or light alcohol, eat before drinking and take a multivitamin and some ibuprofen before bed.
We recommend: Hennessy's Irish Pub (885 Jefferson St., Muskegon), Kalamazoo Beer Exchange (211 E Water St., Kalamazoo), J. Gardella's Tavern (11 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids)
LEVEL: BRAVE ENOUGH TO TALK TO FORMER CLASSMATES, NOT SLOPPY ENOUGH TO EMBARRASS YOURSELF
You're in a tricky situation. You're home for Thanksgiving, you want to get back in touch with friends, but there are just certain people you do not want to get back in touch with. Ya feel? Here's the problem with that: If you don't want to get in touch with them, you won't know which bars they plan on going to. Cue awkward run-ins. "Oh, heeeeeey. I've been greeaaat. And you?" You need enough liquid courage to talk to these people, but not too much to have them talking about you until next year's run-in. It's a fine balance you need to maintain all night long.
We recommend: Unruly Brewing Company (360 W. Western Ave., Muskegon),Central City Taphouse (359 S Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo), Rockwell|Republic (45 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids), CitySen Lounge (61 East 7th St., Holland)
LEVEL: MOM APPROVED
You're a full-grown adult, but your conservative West Michigan parents somehow think it's OK to give a curfew if you're staying at their place for the long weekend. And, don't you even dare come stumbling into the house, either. Your Devil-worshiping ways will be kicked out of that house so fast. So what you need to do is keep it classy. Dress it up, keep your drinks on the upscale side to prevent you from ordering too many and treat yourself to a nice evening out.
We recommend: The Wine Loft (161 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo), Butch's Dry Dock (44 E. 8th St., Holland), Reserve (201 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids), Snug Harbor (311 S. Harbor Dr., Grand Haven)
LEVEL: OH, GOD. I HAVE TO PICK UP THE FOOD TOMORROW
Go out early in the evening and stick with family friendly settings that also serve alcohol. That way, you can indulge a little, but being surrounded by kids will tug at that little part in your soul that wants to get you wasted. You'll think about it, but then a little angel of God will turn around in their high chair, stare at you with their unblemished eyes and you'll grab your tab instead. You'll then go home, think about your impact on our future generations and feel sorry for yourself.
We recommend: Founders Brewing Company (235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids), Harmony Brewing Company (1551 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids), New Holland Brewing Company (66 E. 8th St., Holland), Saugatuck Brewing Company (2948 Blue Star Hwy, Douglas)
BOOZE-FREE IS THE WAY TO BE
Just because you're not imbibing booze doesn't mean you can't imbibe anything. There are plenty of joints 'round here that offer craft beverages that come in alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. You've stuck to water long enough, it's time you got to enjoy the joy of drinking a beverage, but without the side effects. Old Boys Brewhouse offers hand-crafted root beers and specialty sodas that can be done up as floats for those looking to indulge. If you're looking to get dinner and drinks, The Electric Cheetah has countless bottles of craft root beer available.
We recommend: Schmohz Brewing Company (2600 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids), Old Boys Brewhouse (971 W. Savidge St., Spring Lake), Electric Cheetah (1015 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids)