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Photos by Megan Leigh Barnard

Truth in a Glass

The new Short North speakeasy thrives on simplicity

The truth is that Two Truths is classy, but without pretense. Somehow, this soulful speakeasy combines the best of all worlds: exquisite cocktails, charming service, and an ambiance that helps you restore balance.

“Two Truths was always intended to be a place where people can seek solace from the screen or just have a conversation,” Operator Adam Singh said. He explains that the concept was simple from the start: “We just wanted to cultivate a place where we, ourselves, would want to hang out.”

Two Truths is a place to take your time. Here, conversation is balanced with an impulse toward connection, dialogue, and ritual. Everything from the service to the drink orders feels intentional and thoughtful. Head bartender, Mike Schaaf is known not only for his behind-the-bar savvy, but also for his killer dance moves and friendly demeanor. Additionally, Mike is a major proponent of making the bar a place for creatives to dwell and engage. On the weekend, you can find singer-songwriters, jazz bands, and street musicians taking the stage; impromptu dance parties often ensue. Scattered across the walls are paintings from local artists that rotate seasonally, making the atmosphere warm and inviting. “It’s a cradle for artists and musicians,” Schaaf said.

It also happens to feature some of the best cocktails in the city.

Photos by Megan Leigh Barnard

Not only are the bartenders knowledgeable and invested, but Two Truths offers concoctions entirely of their own imagining. Take the “Lure of the Void,” for instance, one of their most consumed drinks, which features a swirl of Malbec and bourbon. Or try the “New Fashion,” another favorite, which showcases 10-year-old bourbon. Subtle, with hints of Corazón Bitters, this updated favorite is a crowd pleaser that packs a palate punch. Feeling a bit more adventurous? The Marie Antoinette is decadence in a glass, mixing gin, Campari, Cointreau, and half & half, then topping it all off with an egg white and Angostura float.

Two Truths is simple by design—and necessity.

Opened on a shoestring budget, the concept was a pop-up to pay the bills, keep their liquor license, and learn just exactly what it takes to be a successful business. The buzz spread predominantly through word of mouth and soon, the bar was thriving. Adam and Mike also credit their Columbus network for helping get the bar on its feet. From late-night ice runs to cocktail recipes to business advice, Adam says the support from other Columbus restaurants was obvious, and the relationship wasn’t competitive.

“Being good to people over a number of years makes people excited to have you as a neighbor,” he said.

And for the name? The bar takes a cue from the “Hall of Two Truths,” mentioned in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In Egyptian mythology, life starts after death, and when you die, your heart is weighed in the Hall of Two Truths. If your heart is found to be heavy with wrongdoing, you aren’t allowed to commune with the gods. If you are righteous, eternity opens up to you. Adam credits the Egyptians “profound sense of balance” as one of the inspirations behind the bar’s vibe.

And he isn’t wrong. Somehow, there is an earthy sacredness to the space. Maybe it’s the ritual of intricate mixology, the savoring of flavor, or the dialogue slowly drifting in softly-lit hours, but there’s something just a little bit magic here.

In all honesty, when it comes to Two Truths, the cocktails are top-notch, but it’s the possibility for intimate conversation and true connection that feels like the rarest find.

“We’ve never been focused on just making money,” Mike said. “We’ve spent years cultivating something based on friendships, networking, communication, and the community. It’s a cultural impact.”

Two Truths is located at 1205 N High St. in the Short North. For more, visit facebook.com/TwoTruthsColumbus.

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