The speakeasy was the center of social life during Prohibition. It also spurred a creative explosion in mixology that still inspires bartenders today.
“People love having their own private spot,” says Marty Kenny, who partnered with friend David Ladic to open Sidebar on Fifth Avenue South in February. “I wanted to cater to locals and be found by word of mouth, so there’s no website. You don’t need a password to get in, but you have to be able to find it.”
No food is served, and Kenny prefers to focus on original craft cocktails and allocated wines, as well as a list of nearly 200 distinctive bourbons, ryes, and tequilas. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Sidebar quickly became a destination for patrons indulging in a high-quality before- or after-dinner experience.
A trio of bartenders collaborates on the cocktail list, which changes frequently. Their offerings range from fresh and herbal choices such as the Sidepiece (Fords Gin, Aperol, lemon, sage, and ginger) to the complex and balanced Confab (Rittenhouse Rye, 1792 Small Batch Bourbon, Calvados, Cognac, and bitters). By using the Coravin system—which allows servers to pour wine without removing the cork—Sidebar is able to present hard-to-find wines by the glass, such as Lancaster Estate, Vineyard 29, Pride Mountain, and Adaptation by Odette.
Born and raised on Marco Island, Kenny has spent most of his life in Naples and developed restaurant concepts such as Pelican Larry’s, Joey D’s Pizzeria, and Soul Bowls. He describes Sidebar’s decor as cozy and intimate, with dim lighting and tufted leather sofas that give guests the feeling of relaxing in their own living rooms. “It’s clean and minimalistic, with a sexy lounge feel. We designed it for comfort.”