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Tonic sets its self apart


The great thing about going out at the bars in the West Glen area is that, no matter what night or what time it is, the style can range from sports bar-casual to nightclub-fancy — and everything in between. The West Des Moines location of Tonic Bar, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, lands somewhere in the middle of those extremes, depending on the crowd that night.

Tonic Bar in West Des Moines offers a unique experience unparalleled by other bars in the West Glen area.

Tonic Bar in West Des Moines offers a unique experience unparalleled by other bars in the West Glen area.

Tonic doesn’t look like the biggest bar around, but with a wraparound patio, second floor mezzanine and balcony, it makes use of the tall, open ceilings inside while allowing people to expand outdoors on both levels. It has an ideal location in the middle of the West Des Moines nightlife scene. The crowd mingles outside on the patio with those spilling out of Shotgun Betty’s next door, and it’s only a short walk to Cowboy Jack’s and Blue Moon to the east or Cabaret and the Funny Bone to the northwest. Venture across the street, and you’ll even run into Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop.

The prime location — with no shortage of parking — makes Tonic a great choice for those nights when you can’t decide if you’re out for a couple drinks with friends or an all-night bar-hopping excursion. Tonic caters to both the long- and short-term customers, though it’s likely more suitable to those who prefer to grab a table and hunker down for the evening.

The difference between going out on Court Avenue and going out in West Glen is the seating — or lack thereof. On a typical night downtown, it’s typical to find half the people in a bar standing or dancing. Those groups don’t necessarily care about finding a table because they know that in an hour they’ll be at the next bar. In West Glen, tables are the top real estate, and they fill up fast.

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Luckily, Tonic is more tables than standing room. The good part of that is there’s usually a chair to sit on. The bad part is finding your way through the maze of furniture to the bar. That’s not a terrible thing, though, considering Tonic isn’t exactly a dance bar. It’s more a gathering space for professionals to sit and chat, watch a game or even to celebrate.

Tonic has more of a mature, upscale feel than many of its competitors, using dark wood on the walls and brick pillars to give it something of a resort look. The black guard rails around the balcony and black furniture complete the décor. It’s also one of the only bars around to sell cigars, and that fact alone sets Tonic apart from the rest.

With flat-screen TVs lining the walls, it’s nearly impossible to find a bad angle when it comes to watching sports or late night television.

Speaking of sports, Tonic plays up its sports bar theme for most big games, meaning the seats fill up even faster than usual. The drinks are typically made strong, giving customers more bang for that hard-earned buck. On Sundays, Tonic offers $1 off beer and $2 off wine, which is a good thing to know going into football season.

Tonic is part of Riley Drive Entertainment, which also operates Tonic on Court Avenue, Beaver Tap and multiple Saints Pub locations across the metro. CV

5535 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines
Mon. – Fri. 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sat. noon – 2 a.m.
Sun. 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.

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