Bar Louie offers cool atmosphere, mediocre drinks

The new two-story Bar Louie occupies prime real estate on the corner of the West 7th development, once inhabited by a dismissible Irish bar. The crowd is boisterous and well-groomed, consisting mostly of young professionals in their Friday night outfits with a sparse smattering of university students.

One would feel slightly underdressed in a T-shirt and jeans, but that is not really a bad thing. The atmosphere certainly aspires to an air of sophistication, albeit a slightly prefabricated one.

It is a national chain, but certainly not in the Chili’s category.

I finally saddle up to the bar and peruse the drink menu. To my chagrin, it does not list prices next to the drink items. While I expect to spend $10 on a cocktail at a place like this, I also expect honesty.

This may seem nit-picky, but I go to a lot of bars, and all the ones worth noting have prices by their drinks. Many are more acclaimed and highly sought after than Bar Louie.

The much pricier GRACE in Sundance Square as well as the-always-wonderful The Usual come to mind. Even the best bars in Manhattan happily tell you how much their $18 martinis cost.

They all list their prices, however subtly, on usually well-designed menus. The Louie might take note of this: Leaving off one’s prices does not make an establishment classier, but rather simply serves as an annoyance in an already busy atmosphere.

I decide to try out some classics to judge the bartender’s prowess. I start off with a simple mojito. The bald, goateed young man says, “OK,” but I caught a glimpse of fear in his eyes. He didn’t know how to make it.

Shoulder to shoulder with fellow patrons, I waited for my drink. I watched as he consulted a menu and poured the simple ingredients.

The result was an underwhelmingly over-sugared drink that I would expect from the Holiday Inn. My friend ordered a seasonal Rahr, and the women tending to him did not know exactly what a seasonal was. Not cool.

I gave them a last shot and ordered a martini.

They had a long list of fruity and chocolate “martinis,” but I was in no mood for feminine libations at this point. I wanted a man’s drink — the kind you order over a lengthy business deal with steak involved: a classic gin martini.

What I got was not that. The concoction wasn’t unpalatable — it was actually pleasant. But, it was made with vodka, and it had huge olives… stuffed with blue cheese. While many may like this touch, even consider it gourmet, I prefer not to drink my picnics.

Chris Phanekham is a junior writing and pre-law major from Keller.