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The Hideaway: Clearwater bar has something for everyone

Besides its eclectic mix of pop posters, TV’s tuned to sporting events and video games, The Hideaway serves up some pretty interesting mixes, including beers.

Luis Santana/tbt*

Besides its eclectic mix of pop posters, TV’s tuned to sporting events and video games, The Hideaway serves up some pretty interesting mixes, including beers.

Every bar has its own signature. Whether it's a theme, a special drink, or a particular clientele, there's usually one or more consistent elements that come to mind when you think of a place. I'll go one step further and propose that this consistent element is often a key factor in whether a new bar is successful or not.

For example, I recently watched an episode of Bar Rescue that featured a struggling bar in Southern California. This bar, located on a beach boardwalk, had a flimsy Irish pub theme, and the house specialty was a margarita, touted by a man standing at the entrance in a leprechaun costume. The show's star, Jon Taffer, decided that there were too many incongruous elements in the bar, and it kept the place from having any sort of clear identity.

Now allow me to immediately contradict myself by talking about the Hideaway, a bar that I enjoyed and that was clearly successful — the front patio was packed on a Wednesday night — despite the many conflicting elements contained within.

The Hideaway is a great-looking place. There's a long bar with a cool, backlit Hideaway sign hanging on the stone back wall, a large lounge area with booth seating and clean, red-felted pool tables, granite brick walls, and low, red-tinted mood lighting throughout the lounge and bar areas. These elements work together to give the place a classy, upscale vibe.

But the Hideaway nearly falls into the above-mentioned trap when it comes to decorating. Posters of punk rock musicians, Rolling Stone magazine covers and framed Shepard Fairey prints clash with each other, not to mention with the many flat-screen TVs playing sporting events, dive bar-esque video golf games, nightclub-style promo posters and dozens of craft-beer tap handles on display. These things are fine on their own, but putting them all together seems like a case of trying to be everything to everyone — something that bars should generally avoid.

Now, before you get the wrong impression, let me tell you that I really enjoyed The Hideaway. The thematic direction of the place may be uncertain, but overall, it's tastefully put together and arranged. If you stick around for a while, you'll see that the stone columns, polished wood floors and warm lighting provide for a nice, atmospheric environment to enjoy your drink in. Did I mention that they serve drinks here?

The Hideaway has a very solid selection of craft beers on draft and in bottles, as well as a small but high-quality wine list, and a full liquor bar. The ambitious décor is matched by the menu of beer and liquor cocktails. I say beer and liquor cocktails because they make actual cocktails with the former, both in the form of mixed drafts and "loaded beers" — beers combined with various spirits and liqueurs.

I was quite happy with the drinks, which were all reasonably potent and more than reasonably delicious. Aside from the creative beer cocktails, there are also several house drinks served in chilled cocktail glasses, involving a mixture of flavored spirits with exotic liqueurs and fruit, ranging from orange and pineapple to lychee and pomegranate. If you'd like something simpler or more classic, no sweat — the bar is well-stocked and capable, and the prices are fair.

The Hideaway is one of the nicer bars that I've been to lately. For all my nitpicking about slightly conflicting thematic elements, the place is comfortable, has a good vibe, and the long list of drinks is more than enough to keep me satisfied for a while. Honestly, the loaded beers alone are worth a trip. And drinks aside, the bar also hosts live music on the weekends and beer-related events every week. No matter what you're into — beer, wine, cocktails, sports, music, whatever — you'll find that for better or for worse, the Hideaway has a little bit of something for everyone.

The Hideaway

2454 McMullen Booth Road #209, Clearwater. (727) 725-1188; thehdwy.com.

The vibe: A stylish craft beer, wine and cocktail lounge with a mish-mash of pop culture motifs.

Booze: Beer, $3.50-$9; wine, $6.50-$7.50; liquor, $4 and up. Happy Hour is 3 to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, with domestic beers, wells, calls, and house wines all around $1 off.

Specialty: The signature cocktails are fun, but the "loaded beers" are something that I'm surprised more bars aren't already doing. My favorite was the Peppermint Patty — Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Three Olives Chocolate vodka, and Rumplemintz peppermint schnapps. The runner-up, Apple Jacks, is a simple but effective blend of Woodchuck cider and Goldschläger.

Hours: 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

The Hideaway: Clearwater bar has something for everyone 09/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 4:03pm]

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