SLO bar Sidecar is moving to a new spot — and adding a distillery

How to make Sidecar’s Smoking Jacket mezcal cocktail

Jeff Kelley, bartender at Sidecar in San Luis Obispo, demonstrates how to make a Smoking Jacket, a mezcal cocktail.
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Jeff Kelley, bartender at Sidecar in San Luis Obispo, demonstrates how to make a Smoking Jacket, a mezcal cocktail.

Sidecar Cocktail Co. is moving to a new location in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The cocktail bar and restaurant, now located at 1127 Broad St. will head about a block down the road to the former home of Metro Brewing Co.

Sidecar owner Josh Christensen said the new Sidecar is slated to open at 1040 Broad St. in mid- to late June.

The creekside spot has seen several businesses come and go over the past few years. However, Christensen said he feels confident that Sidecar will be able to use the space to suit their business and serve the community best.

“It’s gone through a less than ideal run over the past decade or so,” Christensen said. “But we have a vision for this place.”

That vision includes Sidecar’s very own distillery.

Sidecar Cocktail Co. in San Luis Obispo is moving to a new location, 1040 Broad St., in June 2019. Cassandra Garibay

Since the bar’s new building was previously used by a brewery, Christensen said he was able to take over the manufacturing use permit, making some modifications from beer to spirit manufacturing with the city’s support.

“All the stars kind of aligned here,” Christensen said.

Christensen said Sidecar is in the process of applying for a federal distilling license and a state Alcoholic Beverage Control permit for the new location. Once permission is obtained, Christensen said the company hopes to start distilling hard alcohol — primarily gin.

“We just love gin,” Christensen said. “I think gin is the most dynamic cocktail spirit ... and cocktails are what we love. Cocktails are what we do.”

Christensen said nostalgia of his college days, when 1040 Broad St. was occupied by Grappolo restaurant and filled with jazz bands, played a part in the decision to move. Fair rent price and more space also gave the space more appeal.

Christensen hoped to expand Sidecar several years ago and leased the space right next to the bar’s current location to do so. However, complications arose and the space was not able to be used as intended, Christensen said. The space is still leased by Christensen, who said exciting things are in the works to transform that location.

The new, larger location allowed for the expansion Christensen had wanted. The new spot has a back patio over looking the San Luis Obispo Creek and a basement with an additional bar — two unique locations that Christensen said could be used for community or private events.

“We’ve enjoyed our time in our current space, but I think we will be able to provide more,” Christensen said.

Sidecar opened at its original Broad Street spot in 2011, according to Tribune archives.

Although some regulars are sad to see the old location go, Christensen said, he reassures them that the atmosphere and culture of Sidecar would not change.

“The soul remains. We’re just moving into a bigger, stronger, better body,” Christensen said.

Sidecar will be open in its current location until moving day. Christensen said he will increase the staff size slightly after the move.

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