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With high hopes of snagging an appetizing meal accompanied with equally as savory cocktails, my friend Julia and I decided to make an extracurricular excursion. The U, next to the AMC Theatre on Maple Road, proved to be the perfect spot to sip on delectable drinks, grab dinner and watch a game.

I couldn't help but be in awe of the clean and spacious aura inside The U. The industrial ceilings and frosted glass bar top give off a modern and futuristic vibe. Tables are positioned toward the windows along the front of the bar, with an outside patio to the side of the building for use in warmer weather.

We took a seat at the bar and were instantly greeted by the amicable staff. Already feeling comfortable and welcome, we decided to do "dessert" first by trying seasonally appropriate martinis. I ordered a pumpkin pie martini with cinnamon around the rim, while my friend had an apple martini. My drink surprised my taste buds with the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor, while also triggering memories of holiday feasts.

Two seasonal drinks are offered at one time and feature Shipyard Pumpkin Head and McKenzie's Seasonal Hard Cider, which when mixed, bring together two perfectly palatable tastes.

The McKenzie's hard cider tastes exactly like apple pie. I couldn't believe how scrumptious the cider was, and knew immediately it would become my new obsession.

There are also many flavorful liquors including Three Olives Loopy, Pinnacle Gummy Bear and Ciroc Coconut. Mixed drinks are $3.50.

The U also offers drafts of seasonal Sam Adams, Southern Tier IPA, Flying Bison's, Rusty Chain, Magic Hat #9 and PBR (all $4, except PBR, which is $2). Bottled beer includes Bud Light, Blue Light, Corona and Michelob Ultra. Domestic beers are $3.50, imports are $4.

The U caters to a later crowd, so the electricity in the air increased through the night as patrons steadily poured in. The color-changing bar top illuminated the faces of a mix of college students, graduates, regulars and first-timers all ready to have fun. Many guys sported their college colors, while the ladies strutted in wearing flashy tops with fashionable boots.

While enjoying our drinks, my friend and I watched a game on one of the nine flat-screen televisions. The U has NFL Ticket, so you won't miss a game. We delighted in people watching, and chatted with some of our peers.

After a few drinks, we ordered two meals to share: a veggie quesadilla and chicken wrap. Our dinners were promptly delivered and led to mouth-watering smiles on our faces. The U's menu is under construction and is expected to add many dishes including paninis, burgers, soups and salads. All meals and appetizers range from $5.99 to $12.99. Sunday's are "Sunday Sauce" day with homemade spaghetti and meatballs and sauce made from scratch by the owner's mother (it's $7 for the first plate; $4 for each additional plate).

Wednesday is Hockey Night at The U with an indoor breakaway contest against a goalie! (The winner receives a gift certificate for the next Hockey Night.)

Look for live bands soon on Friday nights. On Saturday nights, you can show off your moves on the dance floor while the weekly DJ spins.

The U, "Your Drinking and Eating Academy," is fresh and constantly innovative. The bar caters to people of all ages and offers plenty of opportunities to have fun without breaking open your piggy bank.

You can get a sports bar vibe, a club atmosphere and enjoy a great dining experience all in one place.

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The U

Where: 4276 Maple Road, Amherst (833-8438)

Hours: Opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. Friday; and noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Atmosphere: A generally younger crowd, but the daily and versatile themes cater to almost everyone.

Attire: Simple and sporty or sexy, yet sophisticated.

Happy Hour: From opening to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with $2 domestic drafts, $2.50 well drinks and discounted appetizers.

Specials: Drink special on Sundays and during Monday Night Football include five domestic drafts for $12 or a pitcher of draft domestic beer plus 20 wings for $18.99. 2 For Tuesday's include two-for-one well drinks. Thursday is Sake Night with two sake bombs for $9 and two skittle bombs for $8.