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Not just champagne and caviar at Beluga 

Like many offices and restaurants on the outskirts of the Buckhead Village, Beluga Martini Bar is housed in a renovated bungalow on Piedmont Road across from Bone's restaurant. It's tucked out of the way, yet very accessible, with free valet parking and no cover charge. It's also cigar-friendly.

"Martini" is in the name: The house martini menu, with 15 choices all priced at $9.50, ranges from the simple and sturdy -- the classic gin with a whisper of vermouth or the Beluga's Best (Ketel One and a lemon twist) -- to the frou-frou -- Vanilla Mousse (Stoli Vanilla, Frangelico and Bols white creme de cocoa). Geographic nods include the Peachtree Martini (Stoli with peach schnapps) and the Georgia Peach (same as the Peachtree, but with a splash of orange juice).

Other liquors include 20 varieties of scotch, a dozen or so bourbons, nine cognacs and three ports. The premium beverages vary, but most prices hover around $10.

Not much for spirits? There are 15 wines available by the glass, all under $10 each. A dozen beers are offered for $3.75 domestic and $4.75 import.

Social climbing: The crowd is polychromatic, but most were united in upward mobility. Any untucked shirts were definitely meant to be untucked. Scruff is verboten. The women are serious about their hair and cleavage. The age range was pretty wide, but clearly started at 25.

Inside, a boisterous crowd of mature singles and couples whoop it up around the bar and dance in the small space next to the band. More open spaces toward the back allow for flirt-filled conversation. Outside, most of the younger patrons lounge on a multilevel wood deck with its own bar, surrounded by trees, tiki torches and strings of white lights.

"No Hot Pants" zone: Patrons Robert Lee, 32, and Angie Fox, 28, were chatting at a table outside. Lee says he likes the place because "you don't have the kids with fake IDs trying to 'front' their way into the bars. There's no woman in hot pants outside saying, 'Come into Beluga!' And I appreciate that. And the crowd is a lot more agreeable than a lot of people in the places nearby. It's Buckhead ... without being 'Buckhead.'"

Beluga blues: Jazz/blues band the Electromatics were playing that Thursday night, as they do just about every Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, Beluga offers live music most nights of the week 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Bandleader Jon Liebman says he likes the gig because it's a "good crowd and good vibe; people who really appreciate the music."


Beluga Martini Bar. Mon.-Fri. 4 p.m.-4 a.m.; Sat. 8 p.m.-3 a.m. 3115 Piedmont Road, Buckhead. 404-869-1090.

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