Sidecar is the literal dark side of the building it shares with V Pizza, with its half painted in a dark gray with a black awning and a small wooden sign. The space itself is surprisingly large, with a covered outdoor patio right in front, off of the parking lot. The seating on the patio mainly consists of long communal tables that look out onto the parking lot and Hendricks Avenue. The two painted-brick side walls are both decorated, with one side boasting a rustic-looking wooden panel that describes the process for making whiskey and the other side displaying a playful applied mural of a man blowing bubbles. They appear to allow smoking in the patio area, but no one happened to be smoking on the occasions that I’ve visited.
The inside of the bar is dominated by the bar itself, with some seating away from the bar available. Despite the large windows that face the patio, the interior is rather dark. The ambient lights are very subdued. The interior walls are minimally decorated, with chalkboard displays scattered around that describe the specials and highlights. Behind the bar, the extensive liquor selection is well displayed along the brick wall. There are televisions playing the sports of the day above the bar, but the volume is kept low for those of us who do not care to watch sports with our cocktails.
Naturally, the cocktails are the main focus in this bar. They have a decent craft beer selection, and they serve wine, but the carefully crafted cocktails are really a treat. The co-owners are both very experienced in higher-end drinking establishments, and it shows. The extensive selection of Scotch, Irish, and Bourbon whiskeys available represents one of the better curated collections in town. The botanical gin selection is also respectable, as is the mezcal and tequila. In all, it is very possible to have a very simple drink turn out well simply because the base ingredients are so impressive.
However, the more complicated drinks are where the skills of the bartenders truly shine. I felt encouraged to see the bartenders processing actual ingredients for the drinks instead of using pre-made mixers. The drink menu reflects a rather traditional attitude towards cocktails at first glance, with classics like the Hemingway daiquiri being heavily represented. However, there is a sense of innovation on the menu as well.
One fun novelty that they have on offer at Sidecar are the cocktails on draft. They list the daily draft cocktails, along with detailed descriptions of the ingredients, on the blackboard that is closest to the bar. When I decided to try one during my first visit, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Upon further reflection, the best way to describe the draft cocktails is to compare them with alcoholic punch-type drinks. Like many punch recipes, the draft cocktails contain many diverse ingredients that are combined into a crowd pleasing drink that is quick to serve.
A place called “Sidecar” should be expected to have a superb example of their namesake on their drink menu and in this instance Sidecar definitely delivers. Not only do they prominently feature the classic Sidecar cocktail on their menu, but they also offer a number of variations on the theme for the more adventurous palate.
Although Sidecar is still a very new establishment, they have already used their space to participate in events. They hosted a party for the recent USA vs Nigeria game, and they participated in Negroni Week. They also played host to St. Augustine Distillery for their gin demonstration after the most recent USGBC Green Social that was held at Aardwolf Brewery.
One benefit of being connected to V Pizza is that patrons can have their pizza delivered to them at Sidecar after ordering. It’s definitely a worthwhile venture on a nice day to enjoy pizza and a refreshing cocktail on their patio.
The best way to stay apprised of the goings on at Sidecar is to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They have daily happy hour specials and other specials that they feature heavily in their social media campaigns.
Sidecar is a wonderful addition to the burgeoning cocktail scene in San Marco. It’s in a great location for a night out in the area, especially on a nice evening. I would encourage anyone who appreciates a well-made drink to visit Sidecar and make a night of it in San Marco.
1406 Hendricks Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32207