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Clarence cool Kennedy's Cove is a classy bar wrapped in a plain, white building

From the outside, Kennedy's Cove looked like an average corner bar. Small white building, modest parking lot -- you get the drift. Once we crossed the threshold, though, we were instantly enchanted by the bar/lounge area with its smooth, dark interior, wooden countertop wine racks and brown liquors that were so far off the beaten path that we felt like we stumbled upon Zanzibar.

Lindsay and I arrived at 9 o'clock on a Friday and found out that the restaurant (as well as the bar) was closing at 10. This was a bit disappointing, but we soldiered on. There was a small, respectable crowd eating and drinking at the bar and Cathy, our classy, distinguished brunet bartender, served us a bottle of Blue Light, a Grey Goose and tea in a tall, slim glass and a double of Bulleit bourbon on the rocks in a modest goblet for $19.50. Due largely to the ambience factor, I didn't even blink at the price. Now, I try to make a practice of trying any new whiskey, bourbon or scotch I've never had before (there aren't many left), and it was strong, potent and pleasingly aggressive.

A blue-lit exotic fish tank mounted into the wall dividing the lounge and the restaurant cast a soothing glow that added to the sophistication of the lounge. "This Love" by Maroon 5 played at a perceptibly audible, calming volume. After perusing the green leather-bound appetizer menu, Lindsay ordered the crab cakes ($12), and she got two large cakes plated tastefully on a white, diagonal ceramic plate with a scallop dipping sauce and a well-placed garnish to round out the eye-popping presentation. She said they were among the best she has had during our sojourns.

The top plateau behind the bar hosted knickknacks from a former era: clay frogs, vintage liquor bottles and other assorted antiques. Two framed black-and-white landscape photos hung forward at a 25-degree angle, adding to the cumulative lounge effect.

A last-minute, last-call crowd stormed in (along with our couple pals Ian and Rachelle), and the bar clamor pumped up the volume in a good-spirited manner. Ian and Rachelle ordered matching Tanqueray and tonics ($14). I coveted, lusted after and admired a sealed trophy bottle of 20-year-old Chivas Regal alongside a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue and Johnnie Walker Gold. A bit too rich for my blood, but they were nice to look at. Cathy reassured us that the restaurant hadn't cleared out yet and that we were welcome to stay, but we didn't want to impose too much when they were supposed to close at 10 and we were quickly approaching 11.

Kennedy's Cove is obviously about the overall experience as opposed to drink specials and gimmicks. If you've got some wiggle room in your budget, spoil yourself.

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Kennedy's Cove

9800 Main St., Clarence 759-8961

Scene: A creme de la creme lounge perfect for couples or special occasions.

Drinks: Once-in-a-lifetime liquor selection. Bring cash; credit cards are not accepted.

Dress Code: Formal at ease. A place worth dressing up for.

Music: Satellite radio with a bent for the '80s and soft rock.

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