By Ashley Strehle Hartman/World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, May, 17, 2018
The Starlite Lounge
Where: 247 N. Eighth St. Suite 101, Lincoln
Hours: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday
Info: 402-475-8822, ext. 3 or buzzardbillys.com/lincoln/the-starlite-lounge
Full disclosure: I wasn’t alive in the 1950s or ’60s. Judging by the atmosphere and cocktails at The Starlite Lounge, I wish I had been.
The Starlite Lounge is a retro-themed bar in Lincoln’s Haymarket district. It’s in a basement location on North Eighth Street, so you’re stepping downstairs to step back in time.
Starlite is committed to its Rat Pack-era theme. It has dark, wood-paneled walls, bright aqua and burnt orange decor and funky light fixtures. There is plenty of seating at round tables and along the large wooden bar. There are also a few sizable booths and a couch or two.
Keeping in tune with its retro vibes, The Starlite Lounge plays a lot of Frank Sinatra music and a few swing jams. But they keep the volume low so you can focus on your conversations — or your drinks.
The Starlite’s drink menu is extensive. There are almost three dozen martinis, more than a dozen classic American cocktails, specialty mojitos and mules, a generous list of liquors by the glass, about two dozen wine options and almost four dozen bottled beers.
During my most recent visit to Starlite, I stuck to the martini list. I had their Starry Night martini for $7 and their Bogart martini for $6.75.
The Starry Night martini is a very boozy concoction made with Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur; Stoli Razberi Vodka; St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur; lime juice; and champagne. It was fairly mellow considering the amount of alcohol on board, and its raspberry flavor was refreshing but not overwhelming.
Of the two martinis I sampled, the Bogart was my favorite. It’s made with caramel bourbon, Three Olives S’mores Vodka and chocolate liqueur. The Starlite Lounge bills it as being as “warm and charming” as its namesake — Humphrey Bogart.
It comes with salt on the rim, so it’s a great mix of sweet and salty. It’s got a deep, rich flavor that makes it worth savoring.
The rest of the martinis on the menu are a good mix of candy- or cookie-like dessert drinks, plus classic and fruit-based martinis.
In addition to its full drink menu, The Starlite also has a short list of snacks — also with a quirky, retro vibe.
They have Velvet Elvis Dip — made with Velveeta, ground beef, diced tomatoes and chilies, served with tortilla chips; Miller High Life Spinach and Artichoke Dip made with, predictably, Miller High Life; a Bavarian pretzel basket; hot spiced nuts; chips and salsa; and Big Easy Rolls with cream cheese, andouille sausage, rice and shrimp. Appetizers range in price from $5 to $10.
In a break from its retro atmosphere, The Starlite Lounge has a few new televisions — though they aren’t the focus. When you visit The Starlite Lounge, I recommend ignoring the televisions and your phones and just enjoying your company and your drinks.
Martinis were good in the ’50s and ’60s, and they’re still good now.
Some things never change.