Strolling along the stirring Hertel Avenue strip, my friends and I stopped into the Sidebar, where the sounds of classic rock ’n’ roll, clinking drinks and laughter signaled that we had chosen the perfect spot.
I instantly felt as though I had been sucked through a black hole into another era. The decor has a classy, vintage Prohibition facade and with its furniture, artwork and setup, the Sidebar could easily have been a thriving source of pleasure during the Roaring ’20s. Tall vibrant murals, classy hanging lamps and the tin ceiling, all contributed to the jazzy atmosphere and a classy, vintage aura.
Once two storefronts and now one open space, the large bar gives patrons enough room to feel at ease, instead of stuck in a Saturday night stampede to get to the bar.
Both sides of the bar have lounge areas near the front windows where you can sit and watch the business of the Hertel strip. The left lounge area includes two tall bar tables with four seats per table. There are also two teardrop tables with four gray deco-style chairs. The opposing lounge has two black leather couches, easily seating four to five people each. This particular lounge area can be reserved for special or private parties such as stags, retirement parties and anniversary celebrations.
The patrons were of blended ages, seemingly from about 25 and up, all dressed in typical comfortable, casual but stylish attire. We all ordered mixed drinks: Dragonberry and Sprite mixed with a splash of grenadine for me, while the others in my group chose drinks such as Jack and Coke, and Soco and Pepsi.
Flavored liquors offered include bubble gum, espresso, chocolate and Three Olives’ new tangy flavor, Rangtang. Classic brands include Ketel 1, Jim Beam plus high-end bourbons and scotches. Mixed drinks range from $3.50 to $8.50.
The Sidebar also tries to stay faithful to local ales and micro-breweries. Draft beers range in price from $2.50 to $5.50 and feature seven drafts that often rotate seasonally such as Flying Bison, Southern Tier IPA, Goose Island, PBR, Blue Light and Guinness.
Bottled beers include 25 to 35 microbrews and popular brands such as Magic Hat #9, seasonal Sam Adams, Brooklyn Lager, Angry Orchard, Corona and Michelob Ultra, all ranging from $3 to $6.50.
A complete list of the beers can be found on a chalkboard on the left side of the bar.
With drinks in hand and the Rolling Stones serenading us through the speakers, we made our way to the 20-foot, resurfaced shuffleboard. Never having played the game, my friend Teresa gave me the rundown of the rules and some basic techniques to boost my skills. At first, I was a little shaky, but as the night wore on I became a pro – sort of. I may not be fit for the bar’s shuffleboard league, which is currently expanding, but I sure had fun learning.
A stage to the right of the bar is reserved for the regular live musical guests such as the Jaman Trio, which plays on the first Friday of every month. On nights without live music, you can rely on the bar’s satellite radio stations and Pandora to set the mood.
The Sidebar is a comfortable and cool neighborhood bar that is constantly catering to its new customers and regulars while staying faithful to its core goal, which is providing an ideal place to have a couple of drinks with great friends.
Where: 1459 Hertel Ave. (835-1995)
Hours: Opens 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.
Happy hour: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Specials are always changing, but drink prices are consistently lower.
Dress attire: As comfortable or classy as you want, you’ll still fit right in.