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Sporting times ; Casual and friendly, Slick Willie's is a great hangout

It was 5 p.m. on a Thursday when Tami and I walked through the front door at Slick Willie's Sports Bar and were greeted by larger-than-life statues of a football player and a baseball player. Even without the name, we instantly knew this was a sports bar.

We found a spot at the bar among an eclectic gathering of enthusiastic patrons. The shape of the bar reminded me of an oversized italic "T" of sorts and the stools were comfortable and abundant. Surrounded by more large televisions than I could count, it was clear that Slick Willie's does everything possible to ensure you have a good seat for whatever sporting event you're interested in watching.

Jackie, the friendly bartender, accepted my order for a bottle of Molson Canadian ($1.50, happy hour) and a "Sex-on-the-Beach" ($2) for my wife. Other interesting bottled beer offerings included Newcastle Brown Ale ($3.50) and Ellicottville Blueberry Wheat ($3.50).

If you'd rather play than watch, Slick Willie's also is an entertainment complex, with its six electronic dart boards, a plethora of video arcade games and an additional island bar in another large room complete with six pool tables.

I finished my primer and set out to try something new. After reviewing the 12 draft selections, I sampled a Southerntier IPA and a Magic Hat Winter Howl (both $3.50 a pint). I wavered for a moment and settled on a pint of the Winter Howl. At first, it hinted at chocolate and then Jackie mentioned she thought it tasted somewhat like cold coffee and I agreed. It was a fabulous dark beer, no matter which hint landed on my palate.

Being in an adventurous mood, I scanned through the mainstay whiskeys, likely bourbons and the ever-changing lineup of vodkas that adorn the shelf behind the bar. I tried a shot of Jim Beam Red Stag, a black cherry-flavored whiskey ($4). The first sip was interesting to say the least -- it strongly hinted at cherry and finished like cough syrup. I decided to add this to a list of fruit-flavored drinks I would not be trying again.

As Chicken Feet fittingly jammed "Down the Drain" on the Internet jukebox, Tami and I played one of the four Mega Touch table-top electronic games located throughout the bar.

As we prepared to conclude another successful exploration in frivolity, Tami and I agreed to visit Slick Willie's Sports Bar again soon. If you like the sports bar, pool hall and arcade-type atmosphere, Slick Willie's is right any night of the week.

There was noticeable, yet carefully confined construction going on in the bar and it's rumored that a full-service kitchen will be opening sometime near the end of February. Be sure to check out free pool Wednesdays (7 p.m. to close) and Thursday's Ladies Night (10 p.m. to close) with drink specials ($1 domestic draft and well drinks) and D.J. Daily drink specials include $2 domestic bottled beer, draft beer and well drinks.


Slick Willie's Sports Bar

2316 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda 743-8233

Hours: 2 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 4 a.m. Sunday.

Scene: An adult playground/sports bar/pool hall.

Drinks: Vodka, whiskey, wine, bottled and draft beer including Yuengling, Magic Hat Winter Howl, Southerntier IPA, Guinness, Smithwicks, Rolling Rock, Bud Light and Samuel Adams.

Music: Internet jukebox.

Dress code: Keepin' it sportingly casual.

Friendly tidbits: Cash only, free Wi-Fi and recently under new ownership.

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