The number 23 stirs various associations - like Jordan in his heyday or Jim Carrey at his lowest - but the Short North's Bar 23 is simply honoring Columbus' backbone, U.S. Rt. 23.

The number 23 stirs various associations - like Jordan in his heyday or Jim Carrey at his lowest - but the Short North's Bar 23 is simply honoring Columbus' backbone, U.S. Rt. 23. The bar's short, clean name also reflects the mod, minimal ambiance that awaits patrons.

Inside the open-space bar, shot glass-sized light fixtures dangle above a long granite bar top. Cone-shaped stools hug tall, glossy tables. Creamy, earth-toned walls are spotted with flat-panel TVs.

"I definitely want to be known as a great place to watch sports, but we don't want to be a sports bar," said co-owner John Racanelli.

He and his two partners, former owners of Metro Bar and Grill, opened Bar 23 last spring. The bar's location on The Cap draws a cross-section of foot traffic - Blue Jackets spectators, Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse diners and convention center tourists - and the owners hope to adapt to what the community wants and become a long-term favorite.

The bar's malleable image changes with the time of day, but the place always seems to draw a crowd. Weekend afternoons bring eclectic football gazers while Friday and Saturday nights, fueled by DJs Jimmy Sexton and James Brown churning chill beats, entice swarms of young professionals.

Bar 23's toast-worthy happy hour also garners attention. Happy hour specials include $2 margaritas on Wednesdays and $2 mojitos on Sundays, but you'll always find an impressive offering of $5 specialty martinis.

The ever-expanding list of imaginative martinis, like the Snickertini or "Pop Rocks" Martini, is worth adventuring through. Especially tasty is the Key Lime Pie Martini, made with fresh lime and pineapple juices and garnished with a graham-cracker rim and a dollop of whipped cream.

In addition to original food specials, like Wednesday's all-day Enchilada Dinner ($5), the bar offers a small, vegetarian-friendly food menu that's no slouch - plus, it's served all night. Highlights include panini sandwiches, like the Turkey Peach Melt ($7) with peach chutney, brie and fresh greens, and pies like the White Pizza ($7) with roma tomatoes, baby portabellas, basil and garlic dressing.

Bar 23's shaded patio is a great spot for a light bite, and most patrons opt to pair their meals with draft beer, like Stella, Redhook IPA or Magic Hat #9 ($4.75). In addition to a dozen-strong selection of European wines, including several organic and biodynamic selections, the bar boasts some fine bubbly for celebrating - it's Cristal or nothing for me.

Bar 23

584 N. High St., Short North

614-224-2323

Hours

4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday

11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday

12 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Sunday

Happy Hour

4-9 p.m. daily: Half-price specialty martinis, 50 cents off all other alcohol