When 5:30 rolls around on Friday, the offices begin to empty and the bars of Downtown Syracuse start to fill. The options are many; the let-downs are few. And when the work whistle finally does blow, some workers choose to clock-in at Syracuse Suds Factory.
At Suds (which is what most people call it), Happy Hour begins at about 5 p.m. and it lasts until 9. One of the bartenders says that you can get home brews for just $2.75, and double-well mixers for “uh $4.00 or 4.25.” She was serving about 5 people when answering. Suds has a variety of their own brews on tap. The pale ale is delicious, and people must like it because they were out of it last Friday. The Irish Red is another popular choice, partly because everybody’s Irish this time of year. But they’re all good. The options aren’t limited to their own craft beers, either; the coolers contain a variety of others, and the shelves hold a plethora of liquor.
Hit up the ATM by the rear door (the one that goes out to Walton St.) to make sure you’ve got some cash, or make it easy by leaving your card at the bar with an open tab. Just don’t forget about it – because it’s easy to do after you’ve had a couple. The bar stools aren’t the comfiest things in the world, but that’s fine. Who wants to sit on a stool after sitting all day anyway? Stand up and stretch out. Grab a drink and walk around. Get the blood flowing. With a spacious interior, Suds offers plenty of room to unwind for you and your co-workers. The actual bar seems to go on forever, but this doesn’t seem to faze the bartenders – drinks arrive quickly and with a smile.
No one likes to drink on an empty stomach, and the people at Suds know this, which is why a tray of food appears on the table next to the ATM around 5 or 5:30. “Ya never know what it’s gonna be,” says one of the bartenders, “It’s whatever they feel like putting out.” On one Friday evening, the big silver tray offered strips of battered pork chops, spring rolls with a mystery filling, and a spackling of heavily battered chicken tenders. On another Friday, it held odd shapes of fried “something.” The “something” turned out to be mac’n’cheese. Yes – fried mac’n’cheese. Patrons seem to neglect the tray; whether they’re afraid of it or they just don’t know about it is unclear. But fear not the smorgasbord of finger food. It may be random, but nothing goes better with a cold beer than a nice salty snack, especially when it’s free. If the finger food doesn’t do it for you, ask for a menu and order a meal that’s more to your liking.
If you get there during Happy Hour, you shouldn’t have to worry about the place being too packed. The crowd at this time is usually just right. It’s not completely empty where you feel like the only person in the bar, but it’s not so mobbed that you can’t move without bumping into someone’s drink. But, if you wait too long and miss out on Happy Hour, the lights get low, the bouncers show up, and the place starts to fill. Then you’ll have plenty of time to think of what you want to drink as you wait in line to show your I.D. And then you’ll still have time to decide as you inch your way up to the bar through a sea of people. So, show up on time and make it a Happy Hour.