Insider Insight: Cabby Barnard

Take a drink of Spokane's nightlife with the Bon Bon bar manager

click to enlarge Cabby Barnard
Cabby Barnard

Cabby Barnard has been the bar manager at Bon Bon, one of Spokane's earliest adopters in the craft-cocktail movement, for the past four years, but her experience in the Lilac City's nightlife reaches well beyond the charming diminutive bar adjacent to the Garland Theater.

A Pacific Northwest native, Barnard's spent most of her adult life in Spokane, working at places ranging from the Onion to Lantern Tap House to Pacific Avenue Pizza. And she's learned a few things about Spokane's nightlife in the process.

Spokanites pick a favorite and stick to it

No matter what bar or club you go to, you're probably going to see the same people there the next time you visit. Spokane is a city of "kind of a lot of regulars," Barnard says. And they're not all the same kind of people — you'll find men and women, young and old, all intermingling at their respective "favorite" spots.

"There's definitely a lot of friendships formed by people having a 'usual' place to go," Barnard says. "That's kind of the beauty of it. There's all these people from different walks of life who have formed these friendships that might be unlikely because they might not see each other outside this bar scene."

The nightlife is evolving for sure

An influx of new bars and restaurants has given Spokane's nightlife a jolt. The town has gotten "a lot more creative with the types of places that are opening," Barnard says, and the rise of craft cocktail bars and more diverse dining options "changes the clientele a bit."

"People have more of an appreciation [of what bars do]," Barnard says, "and they're more intentional in their going out. It's not just going out to get wasted. But that happens, too."

When it comes to drinks, Spokanites still keep it simple

We love our IPAs, that's no surprise. And old fashioneds are popular at bars across town, too, as are locally brewed beers. There's one drink, though, that people of all stripes rally around.

"Across the board, the great equalizer is Rainier," Barnard says. "Everybody drinks Rainier, it seems, at every bar."

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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...