When Sidebar 122 opened in the location the Brownstone once called home, Downtown got a much-needed swanky hangout. With low lighting and ultra-comfy stools, Sidebar 122 has created an admirably comfortable atmosphere. Making the place even more inviting are the strips of bacon served as a bar snack — Ron Swanson would be proud.
During weekend nights, the basement turns into a speakeasy jazz bar, and there are plans in the works for a late-night lounge on the second level. For now, Sidebar 122 offers a happy hour where selecting one of the excellent Prohibition-era cocktails will present quite a dilemma.
During happy hour, Sidebar 122 features specials on beer and wine. There’s a fairly diverse selection among the limited number of bottled beers ($3). A few crafts (Brooklyn IPA, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale) and imports (Stella Artois, Modelo Especial) join domestic lagers.
I’m an avid beer guy, but the wine special is too good to pass up. Sidebar serves a glass or red or white wine for $5 during happy hour. I say “glass,” singular, but it’s really more like two. Your wine glass is accompanied by an extra half of a small carafe.
Sidebar specializes in cocktails, and it shows. The cocktail list features modern signature drinks as well as a huge variety of Prohibition-era libations. The Sidebar Sidecar ($9) is highly recommended, and not just because the bartender lights part of it on fire.
If fire’s not your thing, any cocktail you think of can be made by the well-schooled bartenders. They even offer a Pisco Sour ($9), a Peruvian grape brandy cocktail that I have yet to see on any other menu in the city.
The small plates (combining Mediterranean and South American flair) offer some bold flavors and outside-the-box dishes. The Beef Tenderloin Empanadas ($9) have savory marinated beef inside a pastry crust that’s slightly sweetened by a sprinkle of powdered sugar. The three empanadas work nicely as a meal for one or a snack for two.
The Shrimp and Tilapia Cibeche ($13) would pair wonderfully with a Pisco Sour. The Goat Cheese Salad ($8) — herbed, baked goat cheese on a sliced baguette atop a bed of spring mix, raspberries, and walnuts with raspberry vinaigrette — is a superb mixture of flavors.