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Cyclone Bar is a good bet for happy hour

Sometimes a satisfactory happy hour turns up at an unexpected place – like the Cyclone Bar at Hamburg Gaming. To begin with, the bar doesn’t charge an arm and leg for drinks if one isn’t parked at a slot machine. Add happy hour pricing and drinks are a relative bargain.

A short walk through the gaming floor leads to the bar at the center of the action. The circular bar surrounds what looks like a giant white cyclone structure rising out of the floor.

The feel is modern with blue lighting and walls lined with multiple TVs turned to sports, which perhaps explains why efficient bartenders are dressed like referees.

For those who like to play, there are games built into the bar, including video poker. The bar also opens to a stage with table seating. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights starts at a respectable 8 p.m.

All in all, it’s a good hangout, especially if you’re a nongambler along for the ride or visiting the Event Center.

Draft beers are a mixed bag, including the odd appearance of Michelob Ultra along with Stella Artois, Shocktop, Rusty Chain and nearby Hamburg Brewing’s Our Town, a Belgian Saison-style ale.

Bottles are the usual Coors, Bud, Sam Adams domestic crew with the Molson, Heineken, Corona and Labatts imports rounding it out. Gluten-free Redbridge is available, too.

Wines are listed by “intensity” as in “light intensity red wine” and include choices like Brotherhood Pinot Noir from the Hudson Valley. House wines start at a paltry $4, most are $5-$6.

Even though they aren’t happy hour selections, specialty cocktails are a bargain at $5, and have funny names like Where the Buffalo Roam – a Smirnoff vodka and Grand Marnier concoction. Or the Blizzard of ’77, which mixes Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Disaronno Amaretto and Frangelico with a (somewhat undignified) “splash of Pepsi.”

Others pay homage to the Erie County Fair, like the Demolition, which combines Smirnoff vodka with cream de banana and blue curacao.

The Tilt-A-Whirl mixes Myer’s Dark Rum, cherry brandy and vermouth with lime and pineapple juice, garnished with cherry gummy candy. One bartender noted a customer spit it out on the bar after the first sip, but at $5, why not give it a whirl? If nothing else, you’ll see what happens to a gummy candy when it gets cold.

Cyclone Bar at Hamburg Gaming at the Fairgrounds

Where: 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg (the-fairgrounds.com)

Scene: Relaxed and fun atmosphere despite the name.

Hours: Hamburg Gaming is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Cyclone Bar Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. daily with $3.50 well drinks, house wine and 16 ounce domestic drafts.

Other specials: Sunday through Thursday (noon to 10 p.m.), get a 24 ounce Hamburg Brewing Our Town draft and beef on weck with chips for $12.99. Two for Tuesdays (4 to 9 p.m.), get one appetizer (loaded fries, nachos or poutine) and two entrees (beef on weck, chicken fingers, hamburger, chicken sandwich or “JT’s Full of Bologna” sandwich) for $20.

Hockey and football game specials: $6 mini pitchers or 24 ounce Big Drafts of Labatt Blue or Blue Light for $5.

Spiked Shakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream $6.

Extra: Live music from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday nights. Decent bar food menu. Coat check at Hamburg Gaming door.

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

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