Vicious’ nice drinks

By Peter Hemminger

Some bars encourage you to drink as much you can, as quickly as you can, and then get the hell out of dodge. Vicious Circle doesn’t seem to think that way.

A lot of care has gone into ensuring the Circle is a place you can spend the entire night in comfort. The drink selection, furniture (couches) and candlelight atmosphere encourage customers to pace themselves; to enjoy the company of their friends rather than getting by on pure inebriation. The seats by the window, and the patio allow patrons to enjoy the cityscape.

The most obvious of Vicious Circle’s attractions is the extensive martini list. Actually, extensive doesn’t even begin to cover it: there are 140 different concoctions up for grabs, and though $7 a pop might seem a bit pricey, it’s safe to say you’ll find something to suit your tastes. Drinks like the Fancy Boy and the Jennifer Love Hewitt are fully explained and ranked according to sweetness, so if you’re not a fan of bitters, you won’t be caught off guard. You’ll probably spend as much time just perusing the list as you would spend altogether in a typical bar.

Fortunately, the kitchen is just as capable as the bartending staff. Perogies and pot stickers make for excellent snack food, and the spinach artichoke dip has people driving down from Edmonton. It’s all on the slightly pricier side of a student budget, but the portions are generous and the quality is easily worthwhile.

Judging from the crowd on Wednesday night, the Circle has a very favorable ratio of women to men, probably because the martinis are a lot easier to drink than anything you’ll find at the local pub. Our waitress assured us, though, that the crowds are as diverse as they come, having at one time or another been a favorite hangout of the gay and Asian communities, and is a continual favorite within the local arts scene.

A small stage allows local musical talent to dazzle the cozy crowd.

The only drawback, aside from the marginally higher price point, is one of the few permanent pieces of artwork in the building. Most of the artwork is changed monthly, but one wall painting of a contorted body with mangled genitals is a permanent fixture that doesn’t exactly do wonders for the appetite. That’s a really minor complaint though. As it is, the Vicious Circle is an excellent change of pace, a unique destination within Calgary’s cultural landscape.

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