It's not often that we get our hopes up about a new bar, but we were pretty tickled when we heard that BART (which somehow stands for bar/arcade/gallery) was opening at 1205 N. Mills Ave. (bartcade.com), the new northern border of the Mills-Virginia bar district. The owners of BART, Chris and Adrian Brown, say they wanted to open a place that served good beer and classic arcade games in a friendly environment – and that's exactly what they've done.
We attended the opening party, and while the air conditioning struggled to cool the scores of new partiers who turned out – we hear 300 people passed through the doors – the overall impression was pretty good. Smaller than anticipated, BART will never be able to replace the dearly departed Rocky's Replay and its bajillion video games, but its nine vintage arcade machines (including Galaga, Centipede and Missile Command) generate tons of good will through pure nostalgia alone. And the beer selection is light years better than Rocky's ever hoped to be. BART serves beer and wine only, but the coolers are packed full of craft beers like Lagunitas and Hitachino Nest. BART seems like it'll be a comfortable place to park your butt for a while, sip on a good drink and contemplate the intentionally eclectic art covering the walls. The games were free during opening night, but you might want to keep a stash of quarters in your back pocket in case they decide to go all retro and turn "free play" off – then they'll magically whisk you back to when you were an adolescent in the mall and had to make those coins last.
After multiple weekends terrorizing your liver and wallowing in late-night pools of your own vodka-sweat, there comes a time when you realize that you need to atone. No, no, we're not suggesting that you quit drinking (heaven forbid!) – we just think your drunk ass should harness your drinking powers to make some positive change in the world.
On Sunday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m., the sparklingly new Redlight Redlight (2810 Corrine Drive, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com) will host an event featuring the products of Market Colors (marketcolors.org), a nonprofit that trains impoverished Malawian women in craft-making, sells their products in the United States and returns the proceeds to the artisans. The products include iPad cases, purses, wallets, rugs and more, and we're sure you'll realize that you need to buy them after your wallet has been lubricated with a few cask ales.
To help set the mood, musicians Chris Burns, Rubox, Silver Fleece and Tigerweather are playing sets, all for a measly $5 at the door. A little philanthropy makes your drinks taste better, promise.
Exciting local expansion news! The Imperial at Washburn Imports (1800 N. Orange Ave.; imperialwinebar.com), that purveyor of fine alcoholic beverages and ass-chewing foreign furniture, is setting up another shop in Sanford. The new location will be helmed by Mike Smith, who opened the Shipyard Emporium and the Fish Out of Water Food Truck (he also organizes one of our favorite reasons to be hungover on a Monday: Rock Star Bowling at Colonial Lanes). Smith expects the new joint to open around the end of September. Located just across the street from the Willow Tree Café (116 E. 1st St., Sanford), it's going to boast a second-story loft, eight drafts (a 33 percent increase from the original spot) and (most exciting of all) a liquor menu.
The cocktail list will be mostly 1920s-style vintage concoctions, and Imperial will craft their own homemade sodas and bitters to blend into the booze. There's even extra real estate for food prep, so expect to see flatbreads and finger foods resting precariously on the armrests of those Javanese loveseats.
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