Speak of the Devil seemed like a fool’s errand when it opened in downtown Lorain at the end of 2017.
On West Fifth Street, it’s around the corner from the city’s main drag of Broadway, which didn’t support a lot of bars to begin with. Lorain, an old steel town, seemed more receptive to shots and beers than craft cocktails.
“We were told it would be an impossible sell, but we had a sense that we could succeed,” said co-founder Kurt Hernon, who still lives upstairs. “You can have a craft brewery in the weirdest place on earth, but if it’s good, people find it.”
Hernon, who retired as an air traffic controller in Oberlin in 2013, had been an active homebrewer going back to the late 1980s. From there, he branched into mixology, digging up old recipes in books and magazines for forgotten drinks in the pre-internet days.
His century-old findings now populate the ever-changing menu at Speak of the Devil. While it’s made its name on interesting pours such as a Kingston Negroni ($11), which replaces the usual gin with overproof rum, the bar is just as notable for what it doesn’t have: well-known liquors like Fireball, Jack Daniel’s and Jameson.
“We wanted to educate a population on how to drink well, so we took away the familiar,” he says.
It’s seemed to work thus far. Speak of the Devil remains a popular spot in a downtown that appears to be on the rise. 201 W. Fifth St., 440-434-4286, speakofthedevillorain.com
Click here to learn more about 50 of Cleveland’s best bars, drinks and bartenders.