Borland on Drinks: The Sidecar Lounge
by Tim Borland
The Sidecar Lounge can be easily overlooked by passersby on Dauphin street. Nestled in between a convenience store and The Noble South, many people are not aware this business exists. However, those who have discovered the hidden gem know that the newly opened location is home to some of the best craft cocktails in the Port City. The intimate location has only a few tables, and one excellent bartender, but in many ways these traits are what entice guests to visit.
Bartender Randy Jennings
Randy Jennings has been nominated 2 years in a row in the Best Male Bartender category for the Nappies. The sole purveyor at the pint sized sidecar, the layout and limited capacity allows him to provide a more personal, tailored drink experience. The small number of tables also ensures that service is fast, and only a few steps away. As Jennings addresses guests one by one, he is able to make drink suggestions and craft high end cocktails to suite any palate.
The Rum Swizzle
One such brew is the Rum Swizzle, a tiki classic. While the libation contains familiar bar staples like spiced rum, lime juice, and pineapple juice, the delectability is in the details: the addition of falernum for additional flavor and garnished with a brandied cherry and a spiked pineapple. For those unfamiliar with falernum, the house-made mixture contains ginger, clover, almond, and demerara sugar.
Jennings enjoys providing guests with a unique flavor experience. By combining two or three contrasting elements, an average bar drink can be elevated to new heights. Most people taste saltiness first toward the tip of their tongue followed by sweetness. Sourness is experienced along the sides, while the back of the tongue experiences bitterness. Additionally, a drink can have a substantially different aftertaste, depending on the ingredients. The Sidecar keeps fresh starfruit, oranges, grapefruit, limes, pineapples, cherries, chili peppers, fresh mint leaves, fresh rosemary, and other garnishes to provide a wide array of flavor possibilities.
The Pisco Kidd
The Pisco Kidd is a perfect example of a complex, multi-layered drink. With a combination of sweet, spicy, and bitter flavor indexes, the ingredients provide a different experience moment to moment as the concoction moves across one’s taste buds. This effect is achieved with Agave syrup, chili pepper infused tequila, and bitters. The sweet, spicy, and bitter combination is laced with Pisco brandy and complimented by grapefruit and orange juices. The heat from the chili components contrast with the sweet elements of the drink, with a warm spicy aftertaste that is quite a pleasant surprise.
Adding to the character of the compact lounge, the Sidecar also features a record player for guests to enjoy. Regulars enjoy the monthly vinyl themed nights, where patrons are encouraged to bring in their favorite albums to play as they enjoy their refreshments. As a small environment, only a small request is needed to have the bartender change the music selection to suit the evening’s guests. These specially themed nights occur on specific Wednesdays during each month, normally announced via the bar Facebook page.
The diminutive size of the lounge makes the location perfect for private groups and parties to reserve Monday through Saturday. The Noble South menu is available at the Sidecar until the kitchen closes, allowing small groups to enjoy the same cuisine in a separated area. Cocktails are available to walk in guests on Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until the last guests leave, which can vary night to night.
Most Mobilians know that The Noble South is one of the top high end dining restaurants in the Azalea City. Now, there is another excellent craft cocktail location that provides an excellent space both for quiet conversation and private parties. The simple but pleasant ambiance of the The Sidecar Lounge combined with the quality and attention to detail of its staff are a winning combination that is sure to bring a true adventure to more discerning (or simply curious) tastebuds.
~Check back soon for more great drink reviews from area bars~
The Sidecar Lounge
203 Dauphin Street
Hours: Thurs. – Sat., 5 p.m. – until