Nightlife review: A great place to drink and linger; Once the backstage area of a theater, Barrymore’s shines

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, January 11, 2018

Where: 124 N. 13th St., Lincoln

Hours: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday; closed Sunday

Info: 402-476-6540 or

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You enter Barrymore’s: The Backstage Bar through the alley between O and P Streets in Lincoln. So, from the entrance at least, Barrymore’s doesn’t look like much.

Inside, though, Barrymore’s’ unique atmosphere and upscale cocktails have made it a Lincoln favorite since 1974.

That’s because Barrymore’s isn’t just any bar. Barrymore’s is attached to the Rococo Theatre, and it was once a backstage area. It’s long and narrow, and its high ceilings, stage curtains and old theater light board speak to the bar’s former life. Framed movie and play posters line its exposed brick walls and add to the theatrical atmosphere.

But you don’t have to be a theater lover to love Barrymore’s. It’s not all about the atmosphere here. The drinks are special, too.

Barrymore’s is best known for its cocktails and martinis, but it also has spirits, wine and beer lists.

There are more than a dozen wines, all available by the glass for under $10. Spirits include scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and rye.

Barrymore’s beer list includes more than two dozen bottled beers. There are all of the usual domestics and imports, as well as craft brews from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company and Lincoln’s own Zipline Brewing Company.

The cocktail list includes classics like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Tom Collins, Moscow Mule and Paloma for between $6.50 and $8.

Barrymore’s also has six house favorite cocktails that cost between $6.50 and $9. Of these, I tried Barrymore’s Bulldog. It costs $7 and has vodka, Kahlúa, Coke and cream. It’s served in a very generous hurricane glass, and it’s a good choice if you want more of a dessert drink.

Another cocktail on the house favorites menu is the Vanilla Quaalude for $7. It has Stoli Vanilla Vodka, dark crème de cacao, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and cream. Lighter cocktails on the house favorites menu include the Wilmington, which comes with pear vodka, elderflower liqueur, soda press and fresh lime for $6.50.

Barrymore’s eight specialty martinis — each costing $8.50 — are a similar mix of classics, fruity options and dessert-like drinks. There are the usual classic martini, with Grey Goose Vodka or Bombay Sapphire Gin and dry vermouth, as well as dessert drinks like a white or dark chocolate martini.

My drinking companions sampled several martinis, including the classic as well as the fruity Flora Dora martini, with Bombay Sapphire, Chambord raspberry liqueur, fresh lime, ginger ale and orange zest. These martinis were all different, yet good in their own way, so, you may as well try a few.

Barrymore’s is an ideal place to linger and drink your way around the martini menu. It’s laid back, comfortable and a good bar for conversation. It has a few televisions, almost always turned to sports, but that isn’t really the focus here.

At Barrymore’s, the drinks are the true star of the show. Which is just as it should be.