Southside Bar & Kitchen owners John Elliott and Dave Cleland have put a lot of work into the place since they bought it last fall, changing the name from Odelay Tacos/3014/Beetle Bar, sprucing up the interior, renovating the menu (those tacos are still there though), and rolling out a more modern bar program. The improvements have continued this spring, too, with lunch hours added earlier this month and a new weekend brunch, starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, kicked off last weekend. And now they're also reopening the Beetle Bar as a more upscale speakeasy with a separate menu and drinks list with a cocktail program headed by veteran bartender Anthony Giovanni. Beetle Bar will celebrate its grand reopening tomorrow night (Saturday, May 2) with a post-Kentucky Derby Party and plenty of new cocktails until last call.
After that, the Beetle Bar will be open Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a menu of small plates and charcuterie provided by Italco or by individual producers where possible. The owners will maintain a separate entrance at the back of the building, where guests will have to knock to gain entry to the 25-seat space. In addition to craft cocktails, Elliott says they've partnered with Breckenridge Brewing to bring in rare, seasonal and limited-release beers, like the current barrel-aged 471 IPA. They'll also have a rotating selection from local craft brewers like Mu, Fermaentra and Black Shirt.
Southside recently hired Jordan Brito to oversee the kitchen. "Most importantly, we want to maintain consistency," Elliott explains, especially since the previous bar and restaurant never had a clear identity. The menu will feature more seasonal items that will be updated three times a year.
Elliot points out that there aren't too many other upscale cocktail bars in the area, especially on Colfax Avenue, where Prohibition is the closest equivalant. "It's another broader offering for the Bluebird District as we all work together to give more options to the neighborhood," he notes. "It's also an opportunity to give the Beetle Bar its own strong identity."
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Part of the new bar program includes batched cocktails, with $5 mixed drinks on tap based on Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, like "Smokey and the Bandit," made with apple-infused moonshine, lemon juice and black-tea honey syrup. available at the main Southside bar and five-liter oak barrels where Old Fashioned cocktails will age for several weeks. Other infused moonshines included lemongrass and strawberry-chamomile. They've also switched out their soda lines to serve carbonated beverages from Rocky Mountain Soda Company and Boylans.
Although the owners hope to appeal to neighbors from City Park, Capitol Hill and Congress Park looking for a quieter, more sophisticated experience with the Beetle Bar, the Colfax-facing Southside Bar & Kitchen will still maintain its identity notes Cleland. "We're still on Colfax," he says. "We know who we are."