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Cozy corner Brinks offers a laid-back atmosphere in the heart of the Chip Strip

When you're a corner bar in the heart of the Chippewa scene, you better bring your A game. Brinks, situated where West Chippewa and Franklin streets meet, combines the drop-in-for-a-casual-drink atmosphere of a neighborhood hangout with some of the flash you'd expect at such a prime location.

We stopped in one recent, chilly Saturday night to check out this place. Being the most adventurous liquid-drinker of my compadres -- and always on the prowl for a new concoction -- I headed straight to the bar and asked for the best thing they serve.

Along with my friends' gin and tonic, Long Island iced tea, vodka cranberry and pint of Magic Hat No. 9, I was served what turned out not only to be the top-notch drink at Brinks but also the most popular: a decadent caramel cinnamon apple martini (now that's a mouthful!). With the edge of the martini glass lined with cinnamon, an apple wedge on the side and a cherry dropped to the bottom, it was what any true Carrie Bradshaw would have ordered here. Our order rang up to a very reasonable $20.

With drinks in hand, the ladies in our group took a stroll around to get a feel for this restaurant-by-day, watering-hole-by-night. The nook near the entrance has two booths with excellent people-watching capacity and leads into the narrow main attraction: a more than 20-foot-long bar situated in front of two 48-inch flat-screen televisions. The sleek screens were showcasing college basketball and other manly games above a bar that features eight local, domestic and imported beers on tap and countless more in bottles. It's enough to make you feel right at home -- or at least what the guys in our group fantasize home to be like.

Along the wall opposite the bar was a long row of pew-style benches. For us ladies, the high male-to-female ratio (our guy pals estimated it to be 60:40) and a clientele of attractive, well-dressed men in their mid-20s brought to mind the powers of the loins more than Sunday sermons.

After turning some heads (and ladies, this will happen here) we meandered our way to the back of the establishment and found a mini-restaurant setup.

Back at the bar, Round 2 consisted of shots of SoCo Lime -- which my friend informed me is "the Buffalo shot" -- disappointingly served in plastic shooter cups instead of real shot glasses. Round 3 for those left standing included another popular drink that evening, a vodka Red Bull, and another Magic Hat No. 9.

We continued our feeble efforts to maintain a conversation as the music pumped loudly. To the disappointment of one of my dancing-queen friends, Brinks is obviously a nod-to-the-music, cool-guy hangout and not the gyrating, meat market of other spots on the Chippewa Strip. Nevertheless, stepping out onto the patio, it was clear through our frosty, foggy, weather-induced breath that come Buffalo's other weather extremity, the humid heat, the beats would be well-utilized with some friendly getting-down.

As we finished our night, we concurred that it was a night well-spent exclusively at Brinks. But the location, atmosphere and wallet-friendly prices also make this a great place for "pregame" action during a night out.

Brinks

51 W. Chippewa St. (W. Chippewa and Franklin)

855-1330

Scene: Older college students and young professionals

Drinks: Local, domestic and imported beers on tap and bottled; martinis; mixed drinks and wines by the glass -- nearly all under $4

Dress Code: The look is casual, but more specifically preppy casual. Nice jeans (the ones with front creases and no holes) and black peacoats galore.

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