The Hours: The Backdoor has a total of four hours of happy--there's>"/>
The Place: The Backdoor at Roxy's, 462 N. 36th St., 362-7322, FREMONT
The Hours: The Backdoor has a total of four hours of happy--there's a one-hour block from 5-6 p.m., and then an additional three from 11 p.m. to closing time, 2 a.m.
The Deal: It's simple and strictly about the drinks--wells, beers, and wine are $1 off.
The Digs: In Woody Allen's newest film, Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson's character lives in the present day but one evening wanders into a fantastic Jazz Age soiree, complete with flappers, the Fitzgeralds, and Cole Porter crooning at the piano. Walking into the Backdoor is a lot like that--the dark restaurant/lounge is tucked behind Roxy's (where Rain City Video once was), it has no windows, and customers are immediately immersed in the place's 1920s theme. It's meant to look swanky, with crystal chandeliers, nude statues, dark wood furniture, giant purple and blue murals of laughing people, and a Big Band Pandora station on the stereo lending to the speakeasy feel.
At the stroke of 5, the Backdoor's nearly empty, but the bartender, Skip, a dapper gentleman with a nice tan, a trim mustache, and a red bowtie, makes for fine company on his own. Skip's tended bar everywhere from Black Angus to Greenwood's Yen Wor Garden. "You know the key to a good sidecar?" he asks while mixing the cocktail. "It's like babysitting--you gotta shake violently." He tells us that for fun, he and his regulars attempt to name the anonymous mural figures according to their resemblances. So far they've found Bela Lugosi, Gomez Addams, Edith Bunker, and President Obama next to "Tiger Woods with a nose job."
The Verdict: The clandestine Backdoor's an ideal spot for an ultra-chill hangout, and the menu boasts some fabulous cocktails, split into Cocktails of Yesterday (French 75, Sazerac) and Cocktails of Today (the Backdoor Baby Doll, a signature mixture of grapefruit juice, vodka, bitters, and honey syrup, caught my eye)--that sidecar was delicious. But none of these drinks are on special at any time (to be fair, they're all in a reasonable $7-$8 range).
If you want to stick with the happy-hour deals, try the American Brewing Co.'s Breakaway IPA ($4); it's bitingly and refreshingly bitter (and local!) The Backdoor's actually got a really interesting selection of beers on tap--besides your standard PBR and Guinness, there's American Brewing's American Blonde, Arrogant Bastard, and Hale's El Jefe Weizen ale--all a dollar off during happy hour.
Don't come hungry, though--if you hit the first 5-6 p.m. happy hour, as we did, you're restricted to complimentary movie-style popcorn, crunchy corn nuts ($1.50), and crispy curly kale chips ($2.50) (all tasty snacks, but far from a filling meal). There is a "Bar Bites" menu, but the kitchen doesn't open until 6 p.m. If you're looking for sustenance to go with your craft beer, come back during the second happy hour at 11 p.m. and order all the sweet potato latkes ($4.95), shoestring onions ($3.50), and Reuben pies ($4.50) that your heart desires. And maybe once the still-new Backdoor gets some more momentum going, they'll be able to open that kitchen a bit early for the hungry post-workday crowd.