Headed to hell with a kiddie cocktail in hand

I’m probably going to hell for sitting in church pews.

Let me elaborate: I’m probably going to hell for sitting in church pews in bars more often than I do in churches.

Club Anything, Palm Tavern and now Sugar Maple all irreverently boast church pews on which patrons can lounge while sipping a whiskey or, in my case, a kiddie cocktail with extra cherries.

I spent a few hours at the newish Sugar Maple after work on Friday with my cadre of pals from my former job at Community Newspapers. Becky, Chris, Kathy, Sue and John braved the uncomfy straight-backed pew, while Scott, Alex, Jim and I opted for the slightly more comfy wrought-iron patio-looking chairs.

The bar – both the establishment itself and the long piece of wood to which patrons sidle up and order drinks – is huge. High ceilings add to the spacious feeling and a banquet room hidden behind a rear door offers overflow space for crowded evenings or perhaps a spot for bands to play.

The décor is understated and the design is clean. Even the potties – which feature corrugated metal doors – are pretty.

While I was taking a potty break, I overheard a conversation between two 20-something gals who entered the bathroom. It went something like this:

“This place is pretty cool, but, like, everyone here is so old.”
“I know. I wasn’t really expecting that. I think all the hot guys are at The Palomino.”
“Then we’re totally going there next.”

I smiled to myself as I exited the bathroom and I scanned the room. The gals were right. The crowd was mid-30s to late-40s folks, many of whom likely live nearby. Then again, it was 7 p.m. I suppose the hipsters come out after dark when us 30- and 40-somethings are in bed.

As I made my way back to my group of pals, I was ticking through the mental notes I had been taking throughout the evening. I wanted to make sure I had been observant enough to write about the experience later. I recounted my observations to my friends and they made me promise I would comment on the bartenders, too.

When we arrived at 5:30 p.m., a gal was tending bar. She was nice and gave us good service. As the evening wore on, she was joined by a fellow who, my friends insisted, refused to make eye contact when serving up drinks. I’ll admit that when I ordered a kiddie cocktail from him later, he was polite, but not overly friendly. I give him props for making a decent kiddie cocktail, complete with cherries – which I have to request at some bars. And he charged me $1. For that price, I can live without eye contact.

When we eventually left the bar around 9 p.m., I reflected on my evening and decided I like the Sugar Maple. From sipping a syrupy drink to sitting on church pews to chatting with old pals, it was a sweet experience all around.


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