“Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came,” sounds the opening melody to the classic bar sitcom, Cheers, the scene panning over old-timey drawings of top-hatted bar-goers as the piano rings out, immediately evocative of the beloved deep wood and tawny brick-lined barroom. Conjuring a similarly convivial aura, the Bar at O’Bricks finds that same neighborhoody, just-around-the-corner, locals-only style that is the paradigm of Irish pubs of old. And yet, O’Bricks balances the moody, dark-cornered pub feel with a dose of classic New Yorker-esque martini bar, with posh furnishings and shaken spirits that elevate the whole affair.

The Palmettopolitan

Owned by partners Mike Carter and Rick Willats, O’Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar opened its lanky wooden doors in 2012, with the expansion of the Grill at O’Bricks popping up two years later. The bar is the crown jewel of the establishment in its entirety, however, the near red-stained, undulating-edged wooden bar dominating the gaze moments after entering. The wood for the bar, its neighboring high-top tables and wall paneling originated in Costa Rica, each piece hand-carved specifically for the building. And quite a building it is—the bar side occupies the old historic Juplinor Hotel, while the grill/banquet room resides in the Anderson-Finkham Building, dating back to 1901. As such, the walls within bask in the light of history, the bricks that buttress each native to the original structures—the right-hand wall forms a hodgepodge of burnt orange, some nectarine, some chocolate pudding, none the same size and many with first names etched into the gnarled blocks (Woody, Maria, Nick, etc.). The left-hand side stands in more uniform gestalt, brandishing classical copper tones. The reason for the discrepancy? Each was once a wall to opposite-facing freestanding turn-of-the-century structures, the arched brick-laid cutouts now housing rows of red wine actually 100-year old windows.

Chef David Sarmiento taps into that history, both of the space and of his personal upbringing, infusing the Irish pub fare with a dash of mother-made Mexican recipes. “I bring that influence into my kitchen—for example, we’re an Irish place with a chimichanga,” he says. Now executive chef at O’Bricks, Sarmiento has been with Willats and Carter for nearly 13 years, working his way up through the ranks of their respective restaurants—before stepping into his role at O’Bricks, he ran the kitchen at Willat’s former eatery, the Mangrove Grill. “I’m a product of learning in the kitchen,” he says. “I’ve worked under four or five chefs that have taken me under their wing and then I’ve gone with my own exploration of what I like to do. I especially love to play with seafood.” His fish gets highlighted both in subtle pairings, such as the blackened Atlantic salmon that rests atop the signature Grove Salad, and stand-alone dishes like the Gulf of Mexico grouper—fresh-caught and hand-filleted in house then grilled, blackened or sautéed and finished with a choice of balsamic maple glaze, tropical fruit salsa or lemon caper butter.

The casual, but upscale atmosphere complements Sarmiento’s menu, which he says ultimately stems from what patrons perennially love and request (“We vibe off our customers.”). Among those are the pork loin, blackened then oven-roasted, served sliced with a raspberry Grand Marnier reduction and fresh raspberries, and the farm-grown banana peppers stuffed with Italian cheeses, fresh herbs and spices, baked and served over garlic bread—many of the ingredients for both (fruit, veggies, cheeses) come from local purveyors such as O’Brien’s Family Farm and Central Market, delivered six times per week. And while the food is good, the martinis are great—chilled and inventive, not to mention strong. Sip the riff on the Cosmo with the Palmettopolitan—Grand Marnier shaken with Peach Schnapps and finished with pineapple—and you’ll never want to leave.

The Bar at O’Bricks, 427 12th St. W, Bradenton, 941-896-8860.