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Star bright

The Starlite Bar is a welcome addition



Starlite Bar

Greg Bollinger

When I walked into The Starlite BAR (1902 E. 11th St.) for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the changes owners Lynn and Rob Robertson made. Originally a dive bar called Chatterbox, The Starlite has been fashioned into the kind of clean, cozy, neighborhood bar you might find in New Orleans or Chicago. The decor is eclectic—vintage beer signs, old radios, antique wind-up toys, knick-knacks and curiosities, many of them gifts from already-loyal patrons. Lynn knows you can’t create an atmosphere like this without the generosity of customers.

“The objects mean so much more when there’s a story behind them,” she said.

Though they’ve been open only a few weeks, the clientele is already dedicated to their new haunt. Some patrons live nearby, but The Starlite is more a destination than a place you accidentally stumble into.

For the Robertsons, The Starlite is the culmination of years of dreaming—and a lot of construction. They rebuilt the bar, built the stage and booth riser, added walls, redid the floors, and put in new fixtures where needed. Some may know the Robertsons from their wildly successful ‘80s Prom, which will celebrate its 16th year in April 2018, and That ‘90s Party, which now happens every July. Rob, aka DJ Robbo, has been a DJ and promoter since the ‘90s, while Lynn has been a DJ, bartender, and bar co-manager for over a decade.

I no longer imbibe, so I asked Lynn to make one of her most popular cocktails for my husband Dave and a non-alcoholic cocktail for me. I usually drink club soda and lime when I’m out, but I’m no longer satisfied with that after sampling Lynn’s creation, called a Robbo Roy—no similarity to the alcoholic Rob Roy—so named because it’s what Robbo likes to drink when he’s taking it easy. It consists of seltzer water, lime juice, bitters, and a basil simple syrup made from scratch by Lynn. It’s the most refreshing beverage I’ve ever had. Dave had the Mezcal Paloma, made of mezcal, fresh-pressed (in a vintage presser) lime, simple syrup, a pinch of salt, grapefruit soda, a salt rim, and a lime. Dave said it was generous with the mezcal without masking the other flavors: “Delicious but quite potent.”

The Starlite Bar has several hand-crafted cocktails, but this is not an uptight establishment whose bartenders look down their noses at regular beer-drinking Joes. You can get a beer and a shot with the same friendly service you’d find at any regular neighborhood bar (although pool players and sports fans might be disappointed by the lack of TV screens and pool tables).

The Robertsons made a conscious choice to make music the focus of the bar. The tunes are carefully selected and sufficiently obscure enough to please the music snobs. For those who just want to dance, Robbo provides plenty of ass-shaking hit singles from the past. There’s also karaoke night every Tuesday that even die-hard haters can’t resist.

Welcome to Tulsa's best new little bar.

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