SideBar serves craft cocktails and whiskey to Mid-City legal community

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SideBar, a new cocktail and whiskey lounge in Mid-City, serves craft cocktails like the Thomas Holley, made with rye, dry curacao, grapefruit and sage syrup. - HELEN FREUND
  • HELEN FREUND
  • SideBar, a new cocktail and whiskey lounge in Mid-City, serves craft cocktails like the Thomas Holley, made with rye, dry curacao, grapefruit and sage syrup.


At SideBar (611 S. White St., 504-324-3838), prosecutors rub elbows with defense attorneys, cops pop in for a nightcap and jurors shake off a long day of duty with a beer or two.

The new cocktail and whiskey bar from Keith Magruder sits across the street from the Orleans Parish Criminal District courthouse and is a stone’s throw from the district attorney’s office, NOPD headquarters and the Orleans Parish Prison.

“What I gather, from being in the few courtrooms that I have, is that it’s all business in the courtroom, but once they get out they’re all friends, or at least acquaintances,” Magruder says. “I’ve gotten defense attorneys, investigators, detectives, NOPD, sheriff’s (deputies) – everyone’s been over here. But I love it, it was exactly what I was looking for.”

The bar, with its brick exterior, even looks like a legal office, with plush armchairs and a dark leather couch.

The space, formally home to a bar called Night Court, sat vacant for years. Magruder, a service industry veteran who spent the past year working at Atchafalaya, lives in the neighborhood and says he was driving home one night and noticed the spot.

“This is the area I’ve been with since I moved here, and I really like the idea of being part of community here… some people are calling it a renaissance or a revitalization,” he says of Tulane Avenue. 

The location also has its setbacks: Magruder has decided to stay closed on Saturdays and Sundays because weekend business has been dismal.

But he hopes that will pick up once the new LSU Medical Center gets swinging and more residents make homes in the area.

“It would be a great place for doctors and hospital workers to pop in after a shift – and that’s a 24-hour industry,” Magruder says.

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Magruder developed the craft cocktail list after consulting with Amanda Thomas, a bartender at Kingfish restaurant.

Several drinks reference the legal profession, including the Thomas Holley, named after the inventor of the legal pad. The drink combines rye, dry curacao, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and sage syrup and is garnished with a sage leaf and a sea salt and sugar rim.

The Racehorse Haynes is named after famous Texas criminal defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes: the drink is a play on a margarita but includes dry vermouth and smoky chipotle sarsaparilla syrup which gives the cocktail soft heat at the finish.

In addition to a healthy Scotch, bourbon and rye selection, Magruder also stocks beer, offers several wines by the glass and says he plans to add snacks and cold dishes by the end of the month, including cheese and charcuterie plates.

Sidebar is open Monday through Friday beginning at 3 p.m.

For more information visit the website here.

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