May 3, 2014

The Circle Bar, where every night is karaoke night and there's plenty of beer (but, sadly, no sloe gin)

The Circle Bar: A likable simplicity
The hairy guy's report:

Walking into the dimly-lit Circle Bar, we scoped out the scene.

Beer signs. Pool table.
Baseball on numerous TVs. Couple guys  at a well-preserved, old, oddly-shaped bar. It was spring and, even with the doors closed, the place seemed to invite the outdoors in.

And then he saw it: A colorful array of flavored vodkas and schnapps -- Raspberry Pucker, Hot Damn, you get the picture -- sitting in a well behind the bar. It looked to be the whole family of those inexpensive, sweet liquids that he usually avoids (though he does have a soft spot for Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Schnapps).

Suddenly, Harry realized that, after all these years, this might be the perfect chance to exorcize a demon that's been hanging around since a night gone bad during his first days in college. 

It involved a bottle of sloe gin, and we'll spare you the details. But it wasn't pretty. For years, Harry wouldn't even smell the stuff. But that's been so long ago that he can't even remember
Colorful bottles on display
what it tasted or smelled like.

So after some beer to build up his courage, he popped the question: "Any sloe gin in there?"

All sorts of things were available, but no sloe gin. Harry never would have thought he'd be sad about such a thing.

But might as well try something new. Root beer schnapps ($2.50 for a large shot) caught his eye. Yes, it tastes like root beer. And then came some blackberry brandy, which brought back a fond memory of a fishing trip.

Harry usually asks for a Manhattan, just to see what happens. But since all the bottles are easy to spot at the Circle, and there was obviously no vermouth, he knew the answer. "No,
Marci the bartender
we don't sell those," said Marci the bartender.

With that out of the way, it was back to the beer. On tap are Bud Light, Coors Light, Busch Light and Busch ($1.25 noon to 7 p.m., $1.50 later). An assortment of bottled beers stand ready in a cooler.

For food, the Circle has bagged snacks -- assorted nuts, chips and pretzels -- as well as hot dogs and hamburgers ("But I'm out of burgers right now," said Marci).

An area in the back is set up for karaoke -- which is on every night, starting around 9 p.m. -- complete with hats for the singers. One of the bar's surely most memorable karaoke performances is immortalized in a YouTube video.  

There's a likable and reliable simplicity to the Circle's operation. Besides the nightly karaoke, the
Part of the oval bar
hours are the same every day -- noon to 2 a.m. There's no wondering whether this is karaoke night or, if it's Sunday, what time the joint opens. What you got yesterday is what you'll get today (except maybe a burger).

For games, the Circle has a pool table (though only one of the cues is straight), a dartboard and one of those bar-top game machines. ("WELCOM TO THE CIRCLE BAR," it says, not that we expect machines to know how to spell.) And a lottery machine.

The one novelty inside is that the wooden bar itself is in the shape of an oval, not in a circle as the name of the place would suggest. So why does the Circle Bar have an oval bar?

Nobody seems to know. But it's a good place to sit. As we found earlier, curved bars are much better for conversation, since you don't have to lean forward or back to talk with someone a few
Owner Terry Jankowski
seats down. An oval works great, and it's a better use of space than a circular bar would have been. When we arrived, glasses had been placed upside-down at a few seats, awaiting regulars who we presume would soon add friendly conversation.

Owner Terry Jankowski (he's had the place for 11 years) said workers at the nearby General Motors Powertrain plant used to cash checks at the back door and kept the bar busy. "Years ago, we used to thrive on it," he said.

No more.

See the bald guy's report on the Circle Bar: A corner where the nights are for a singin' seizure, the days are for a drink in leisure

  The particulars:
  Circle Bar
  1700 Woodside


Anonymous said...

I checked out the link to the Youtube video of the karaoke. I think someone at the police station should bring that guy in for questioning.

Mark Szeszulski said...

pure genius..

Mark Szeszulski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.