A First Look at Little Dipper Bar: Unpretentious Charm and Laid-Back Atmosphere Abound

A first look at Little Dipper reveals just another neighborhood bar -- a place where the drinks are cheap, the clientele is unassuming, décor lackadaisical and the service perfunctory. Sounds about right judging by the team that built and own the bar -- the people behind Black Hole, Antidote, and Poison Girl.

The newest bar on downtown's "superblock" is small and rectangular, with high ceilings and its two long sides made of exposed brick wall, one of which serves as a background to Little Dipper's dark wooden bar structure, the other lined with old blue booths from the entrance until about half-way into the space. Baby blue tufted leather bar stools line the bar, and the ceiling above the bar is painted midnight blue, with shimmery gold stars forming -- you guessed it -- the Little Dipper. The space's back end is a grey-hued wall on which old mirrors hang on half, while the other half is stamped twice with the word "wallpaper" in big, black block letters. Band art posters about ten times too small for the walls that they're on hang randomly throughout the space. Plain tables are scattered about, with a couple of second-hand (okay, maybe third or fourth-hand) Chesterfield couches placed randomly in the space.

Behind the bar, you'll find standard spirits that the bartenders can mix to make your favorite drink. A cocktail list is notably absent from this establishment, so beware: you may have to tell them what you want in your concoction. I say this because the bartender that served me stared blankly when I asked for something with citrus and cava. He apologized and told me that he didn't know what cava was (sparkling wine that hails from Spain) despite it being the only bubbly on Little Dipper's six-wine list. Then, he seemed at a loss for ideas of what to make with it. When he asked if I wanted my drink shaken, I worried that he would shake my drink with the sparkling wine in it, so I opted to ask him to build Absolut Mandarin, Cointreau, and cava over rocks. Although the bartender was a little grim for my taste, his pours were generous and my drink set me back only six bucks.

If you're a drinker who isn't in the habit of knowing what you want at a bar, I suggest a good ol' can or bottle of beer. Little Dipper's short but sweet selection is made up of: • Lone Star • Real Ale Hans Pils • Founders All Day IPA • Blanche de Bruxelles Wheat • Racer 5 IPA • Buried Hatchet Stout • Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout (priced aggressively at $4) • St. Feullien Saison

Outside the realm of drinks, something else that was notably absent at Little Dipper was a speaker system. Rather than playing uniformly throughout the space, 1980s music drifted out of an evidently small device behind the bar. Little Dipper was lacking some ambience when I visited, and some good, fully audible music would have surely spruced things up a bit.

But perhaps bars that are "spruced-up" a bit aren't your style. If this is the case, then put on your space suit and float on over to Little Dipper.

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