Sweet, Salty, Sophisticated: Bar snacks go upscale

As long as there have been bars, there have been bar snacks. But several spots around town have raised the bar on snacking while you sip, using refined flavors to perk up familiar favorites. The best part? No knife or fork is needed – after all, that beer won’t drink itself.

Salsa Verde Deviled Eggs
Taste By Niche
Don’t let the paprika fool you: These are not your grandma’s deviled eggs. The creative gang over at Taste has made a classic hors d’oeuvre into a scrumptious bar-time snack, infusing the essence of a traditional green sauce into a nibble worthy of the über-creative cocktails it accompanies. White anchovies deliver big, bright flavors – plenty salty and slightly tangy – while garlic, shallots, parsley and tarragon round it all out, making a dish that’s bold, balanced and perfect for snacking.

Cheese Crackers
They may look familiar: rectangular cheesy crackers, light and airy on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside. But these crackers didn’t come from any box. A light hand on the salt lets the cheese’s natural flavors stand out, resulting in a gourmet snack that’s flavorful enough to keep your taste buds piqued and addictive enough to make you ask the bartender for a refill (go ahead, they’re free).

Ernesto’s Wine Bar
Nothing says bar snack better than nuts, and once you’ve had the spiced mixes at Ernesto’s, it will be hard to go back to plain old honey roasted. Pick one of the three varieties for the wine bar’s snack plate – or, if you’re feeling really nutty, go for all three – and enjoy the simple, subtle flavors of this kicked-up snack. From the slightly spicy curried cashews to the earthy sweetness of the rosemary walnuts to the lightly floral lavender Marcona almonds, these are a surprising – and welcome – way to enjoy an old favorite.

Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar
Salty snacks and cold beer go hand in hand. We’re pretty sure that’s what the crew at Bridge had in mind when they created five fantastic flavors of everyone’s favorite salty snack: popcorn. In the mood for something spicy? Try the bitter, pungent wasabi ginger or the smoked Spanish paprika. Want something a bit sweeter? Go for the cinnamon and sugar notes in the chai spice or cozy up to the smooth richness of the chocolate coffee. Looking for something a bit more subtle? Try the mildly sweet-salty combination of the honey and beet powder. And you thought picking a beer was gonna be tough.

Pasta Crunchers
Jimmy’s On The Park
Anyone who’s ever munched on a dry noodle or two before tossing them into the pot, this one’s for you: dried imported fettuccine noodles, flash-fried in hot peanut and vegetable oils, topped with special seasoning, baked and air-dried to crisp, flavorful perfection. Jimmy’s On the Park’s famous pasta crunchers have all the characteristics of the perfect bar snack: salty, crunchy and light enough to keep munching all night long. A secret combination of about 20 seasonings and condiments creates that salty, slightly smoky, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it, lick-your-lips flavor.

Praline Bacon
Praline bacon – need we say more? Executive chef Josh Galliano cooks thick strips of house-cured bacon with crushed nuts and a hefty helping of brown sugar, transforming everyone’s favorite food into a snack of complex sugary deliciousness that’s more-than-suitable for imbibers. It’s crisp-chewy and salty-sweet – good luck stopping at just one helping. But be warned: This one’s sure to leave your hands a little sticky, but that’s a small price to pay for bacon candy.