Disappointing to say the least. First impression upon entering; one of the bartenders sat atop the back bar flipping through a local weekly paper. She sat there during the entire time we were at the bar, never leaving the spot, never seeing to any customers (albeit there were not many in the place). No matter how dead a bar, a bartender should appear enthusiastic or at least busy behind the bar. After all, bartending is a job; a service industry job at that. Don’t sit on your duff. Tend bar.
Drink ordered from the menu; Aberdeen Angus with Famous Grouse Scotch, lemon juice, local honey and a little Drambuie $7 – This could have been good in the right ratio, but instead it tasted much like cough syrup instead of a drink. Touch of local honey was way more than a nose burning over pour. There was quite a bit of sloshing outside of the drink while mixing and flaming was going on, so the craft part of this cocktail was lost in execution.
The coolest feature of the bar; the fabulous biodegradable straws served in the ice water.
I’ve heard pros and cons about Side Door Lounge. I’ve heard they have off the wall drink experiments, house made bitters, specialty foams and infusions. I’ve heard the place is packed on Friday and Saturday evening with live local talent, poetry or impromptu acts. What I saw and tasted were nothing of the sort. I found an almost empty bar on a Saturday evening forty minutes later than a hyped Facebook posting of live music beginning. A single guitar was propped against the back wall, but no obvious signs of any live music. I found one bartender completely uninterested in her customers and bartender duties. The other mixed a cocktail no differently than some bars serve Rum & Coke; Haphazardly.
Side Door Lounge offers its clientele “inspiring libations” yet delivered much less the evening I happened to stop by. Placing a bar in a hole in the wall with hip name, eclectic atmosphere and dark lighting doesn’t do the trick when consistency and service are not part of the formula. There is much more to be said for an ordinary bar that serves consistent Vodka & Cranberry’s, Martinis and neat drinks than a place hoping “craft menu” with a few unusual spirits sprinkled in will make up the difference.
In my opinion, Side Door Lounge isn’t the craft cocktail stop in Omaha with “inspiring libations.” It has a long way to go.
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