Michael Bliele is the bartender at The Hideaway at the LaSalle. The bar describes itself as “Cheers, but in a speakeasy.” In addition to a constantly changing cocktail menu, The Hideaway serves light bar food, including paninis, soup and a gourmet cheese plate.

FAVORITE DRINK TO MAKE…I love to make an old fashioned, and I like making Manhattans. I prefer a perfect Manhattan, which is a half sweet vermouth and half dry vermouth. Those are my favorite drinks, so I prefer making them.

MY FAVORITE BAR BESIDES MINE…If I’m just trying to have a chill night, it’s probably Oyster Bar, and then if I’m going to have some fun, LaSalle Kitchen Tavern. Those are pretty fun bars and my favorites, for sure.

IF I WEREN’T A BARTENDER I WOULD…I’m in school right now [at IUSB] for education, and I’m minoring in planetary science, so I want to be a science teacher. I have about a year and a half left of school. After that, I’ll probably still bartend on the weekends because $40,000 a year isn’t much money. That’s my goal right now: pursue teaching.

MY BEST TWIST ON A CLASSIC COCKTAIL IS… I really like either an elder fashioned, which is like an old fashioned except you substitute the simple syrup with Elderflower, which is kind of like a floral liquor.

MY FAVORITE FOOD ON OUR MENU IS…I love the black forest ham paninis. I add extra cheese. I put hot sauce and chips on top and then panini press it. It’s a good mid-shift snack.

OUR VIBE IS…The vibe here is very mellow — very laid back. We have a lot of different demographics here. We have young professionals, we’ve got doctors and all the above. It’s very chill — usually a very intimate environment and quiet. You can hear yourself and others speak. It’s just chill, laid back and relaxed.

IF I COULD GO ANYWHERE, I WOULD…love to explore New Orleans. For one, it’s one of America’s oldest cities, and I just always heard amazing things about the cocktail culture. On our menu we have a large variety of drinks from that area.
Besides that, Seattle. I hear Seattle has a lot of good cocktails in the area, so I would like to try that out and see what they are all about. They are big on whiskeys and bourbons out there also.
Also, the Bourbon Trail. I’ve been to the bourbon trail before in Kentucky, and I would do that every year for the rest of my life if I could. It’s fun.

SOUTH BEND IS GREAT TO BARTEND IN BECAUSE… it’s super up and coming. I remember 10 years ago — 15 years — ago it was hard to even walk around downtown. It wasn’t a very safe environment. Mainly because of the new mayor, it’s awesome.
Now, everyone is outside, enjoying the weather and enjoying the streets, and enjoying all the shops and bars. It just fun. It’s nice to see the change and see the growth, and see who will contribute.

OUR TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC IS… We don’t [have one]. I get asked that a lot actually. It’s whoever wants to come and enjoy a new bar that’s unconventional and still kind of low key. We don’t focus on anyone. We’re very open.

Photo by Emily Sobecki