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The Exchange is Des Moines’ own Wall Street for beverages


One of the popular nightlife locales in the Court Avenue District, The Exchange replicates the stock market with rising and falling drink prices.

One of the popular nightlife locales in the Court Avenue District, The Exchange replicates the stock market with rising and falling drink prices.

If you’ve ever had a taste for the excitement of the stock market, you’ll probably find The Exchange is right up your alley. If you have no idea how the stock market works, you’ll probably still find it is a great place to spend your Friday night.

Located on the third floor of 216 Court Ave. is the nightlife version of Wall Street, better known as The Exchange. It’s an interesting theme: Prices go up with the popularity of the drink, and customers can watch it happen on the ticker (that’s the big screen with all the changing numbers) right in front of them. And, like any market, it is prone to crashes and unpredictability.

Rum and Coke is a crowd favorite and often at the top of the list, sometimes reaching a $5-6 high. But big crowds have diverse tastes, so don’t count on seeing the same drinks on the screen all night — unless you’re talking about Fireball shots, which don’t seem to be losing any popularity no matter the stock market value.

But the really interesting part of The Exchange’s theme is that it is as important — or unimportant — as you want it to be.

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With the exception of “Wolf of Wall Street,” picture the stock exchange as you’ve seen it in movies: frantic voices yelling and screaming, hands up in the air, crowds of people pushed up against one another. It’s clear why people call it the Wall Street Jungle; people live and die by the thrill.

Now, picture your favorite bar: people mingling at tables, yelling across booths, you’re dancing to great music while your date steals looks at the game on TV over your shoulder. Just another night of fun, friends and drinks.

That’s the type of dual atmosphere guests walk into when they go up the stairs and into The Exchange. If you want to play along with the stock exchange game, there are plenty of screens showing the “stocks” rising and falling across the spacious bar. If you just came to get your drink on and you don’t care about prices, there’s no real jungle to keep you from doing that — every type blends together for a night everyone can enjoy.

The Exchange is all about giving its visitors a great experience, and though it can be taken in many directions, it’s safe to say it was inspired at least a little bit by New York.

To add to that New Yorker experience, The Exchange even provides bottle service and reservations for its booths, all with window seats with a view of Court Avenue. It’s no Park Avenue, but when the stocks start shifting and drinks start flowing, you might not even notice.

So grab a couch, a booth or a piece of the dance floor, and enjoy the ever-changing stocks. Or don’t. It’s up to you. CV

The Exchange
216 Court Ave. (third floor)


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