Tucson's nightlife scene is nothing if not diverse. In central Tucson, college students crawl the late-night bars and music venues clustered around the sprawling University of Arizona campus. In downtown Tucson, hipsters congregate at perennial nightlife havens like the Hotel Congress and Rialto Theatre. And in the posh foothills district, upscale wine bars beckon the city's serious oenophiles.
Now, visitors looking for a friendly neighborhood bar with top-notch drinks have a new nightlife destination. Sidecar is a craft cocktail bar located in midtown Tucson, not far from Reid Park and El Con Mall. The new bar is the brainchild of Ari Shapiro, who also owns Falora Artisan Pizzeria, conveniently located two doors down.
The 900-square-foot space focuses on craft cocktails, wine and beer served in a hip, neighborhood setting. The brick interior, long wooden bar and minimalist lighting give the bar a warm yet modern feel.
The beer menu features locally brewed beers from Dragoon and Ten Fifty-Five Brewing. The wine menu also has a local bent, offering a selection of Arizona wines, including the Sand-Reckoner that's made in nearby Wilcox, Ariz.
Sidecar is named after one of the best cocktails to come out of the Prohibition era — Photo courtesy of Sidecar
But cocktails are the main attraction at Sidecar. The bar takes its name from a popular Prohibition-era cocktail that is traditionally made with Cointreau, cognac and lemon juice. Not surprisingly, the Sidecar menu is full of classic cocktails, including a take on the old-fashioned brandy cocktail, made here with California brandy, raisin bitters, black lime and orange and grapefruit peels.
Cocktail lovers will also appreciate the Some Dark Some Stormy, a rum-based cocktail spiced up with ginger, salted lime cordial and cider vinegar.
Classic cocktails aside, Sidecar takes a stab at modern mixology with a selection of house cocktails. The most unique original cocktail is the Oaxaca Dry Sour, a light and smoky concoction made with small batch gin, mezcal, absinthe, dry vermouth, habanero shrub and house-salted lime cordial.
If beer is your passion, Sidebar carries a small but well-curated collection of local, domestic and international brews. The continental selection includes hard-to-find beers like the Rodenbach “Grand Cru” bottle, an aged Flemish Red with a nutty and savory finish.
There are also several German beers, including the Pinkus “Ur Pilsner," a bright, citrusy brew with a slightly bitter finish. For something a bit smoother, try the Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, which has hints of malt, coffee and plum.