Three Lives Bar in Syracuse: Where You Can Grab a Drink and Get Your Game On
March 24, 2021
Have you ever wanted to relive the joys of your childhood while enjoying the perks of adulthood with your friends? I’m talking old-school Nintendo mixed with cocktails. Arcade games and burgers. Twitch streams. Xbox competitions. 80s music. You can enjoy all that and more at Three Lives Bar in Syracuse.
How did Three Lives get Started?
Located downtown in Armory Square, Three Lives is the ultimate bar for gamers, nerds, and anyone who loves a good drink! Jon Page came up with the idea based on his love of craft drinks and video games. His previous experience includes local favorites Mirbeau and The Krebs, both in Skaneateles. But Jon had a dream of his own. He wanted to open a bar/arcade in Syracuse before he turned 30. Well, his 30th birthday is at the end of this month and Three Lives opened last August. Mission accomplished.
Why is it called Three Lives?
So the name of the bar actually has two meanings. First, the three signifies the three things they focus on: food, drinks, and games. True gamers will know the second meaning. Old-school arcade games start off with three lives! The theme is ever-present in every single aspect of the bar/restaurant/arcade. And the staff want you to enjoy every moment.
“When you visit Three Lives, we want you to leave with your heart meters full.”
— Jon Page, owner of Three Lives Bar
Because there is such a strong focus on the drinks and games, the food menu is pretty simple. Choose from a burger or chicken tenders, and fries or tots. But the limited options are definitely not lacking in flavors.
The burgers come in 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit options, depending on how many quarter-pound patties you want on your buns! Each sandwich comes with greens, tomato, onion, pickles, secret sauce, and American cheese. Or, you can choose the 1-up burger that is topped with garlic basil aioli, caramelized onions, and fresh mozzarella. Yum!
Vegetarian friends, no need to worry. Any burger option can be made with veggie burgers instead. Or you could just indulge in the loaded tots.
A play on Nintendo + chicken tenders, the nintendies are no joke. The cooks take fresh chicken thighs, dip them in a buttermilk batter, and then fry them to perfection. Seriously. They are crispy on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside. Choose from over ten different sauces for dipping – I recommend the house cheese sauce!
One of the things that really stands out at Three Lives is the cocktail menu. It’s incredible! The head bartender, Josh DeSantis, created all of the drinks himself. Every single one is reminiscent of a classic video or arcade game. Guests will have a tough time choosing a drink based on pop culture references or based on ingredients! But don’t worry, you truly can’t go wrong. They are all delicious.
A special shoutout to Josh who created a selection of cocktails for me to taste and photograph!
The cocktail menu starts off with the elixirs, their signature drinks. And they are pretty impressive! The Pac Man Lemon-tini puts on a show with a smoke bubble topping the martini glass. Then there’s the Mutant Manhattan, a strong bourbon drink made with a sphere of ice. It’s topped with an orange peel and a bourbon-soaked cherry. The Bowzerita has definite margarita vibes with tequila, mezcal, triple sec, lime, agave, and orange juice. Lastly, the Nuka Cola is the simplest of the bunch with whiskey, mezcal, and cola.
If you’re not looking for a whole cocktail, check out the tinctures menu. That’s where you’ll find the creative and flavorful shots.
Some of their most famous cocktails come served as potions, in true video game style. The mana, stamina, and health potions are pre-made in potion bottles. The bartender tops the potions with the appropriate mixers when they are ordered. There are also potions of haste and fire resistance, both made to order.
Roll for a Shot
Roll for a shot has to be the most ingenious – and nerdiest – concepts I’ve ever seen. I love it! Guests who are willing to take a chance receive a tray with a shot menu and a giant D20. (That’s gamer-speak for a 20-sided die.) The shot menu includes 20 different shots, again all handcrafted by Josh. You roll the giant die and whatever number it lands on is the shot you’ll get!
Roll a 1 and it’s a critical miss! Hope you enjoy tequila with jalapeno juice. The ultimate roll? A 20 of course! “Pack a Punch” lets you double up any shot of your choice.
Roll for a Shot is $8. But if you’re truly unhappy with your roll, you can reroll for $1.
My favorite? Number 5 – Cinnabar Island, named after a region in the Pokémon. The shot is made with Rumchata, Jack Fire, and topped with Mezcal whipped cream. It. Was. Incredible. Next time I’m hoping to roll a 7 or an 8 to try something new. There’s a lot to get through on that list!
Not a drinker? No worries! Three Lives has something for you too. Everyone needs a DD after all. Check out the power-up menu of non-alcoholic drinks.
And don’t worry, fellow beer lovers. There’s a selection of craft beer on tap and in cans.
Now it’s time to talk about the heart of it all – the games! The place has several different monitors mounted above both the bar and the arcade games. Three Lives displays the Twitch streams of their affiliate gamers and staff members. You can watch along as they play various video games, and if you want, you can even join in! The bar has Xbox controllers available for rent. They encourage customers to message whoever is live streaming and join them, making a truly interactive gamer experience.
Of course the bar/restaurant is filled with classic arcade games as well. Super Mario, Burger Time, Galaga, Mortal Kombat… even Bubble Bobble! My all time favorite classic Nintendo game. The games cost 50 cents to play, so grab a cocktail and find your favorite.
A Community of Gamers in Syracuse
Jon Page and the staff at Three Lives are determines to build and support the gamer community in Syracuse. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been that gaming, particularly online gaming, has become more mainstream again. The bar/restaurant has its own Twitch stream and Discord channel, both intended as ways to unite Cuse gamers.
When circumstances allow, Three Lives will also be host to various gaming tournaments. They recently held a Mario tournament on Mario Day (March 10). Whoever scored the highest game on the Mario machine by the end of the night received a free t-shirt.
Like I’ve said, gaming and the culture that surrounds it is at the heart of Three Lives Bar. Jon recently partnered with TCG Player to livestream the appraisal of his Pokémon card collection. Your bill for your food and drinks comes in a Nintendo-themed game case. The music at the bar is alternative, from the 80s and 90s. The same music that was popular when gaming became popular – and isn’t found at other bars in the area.
Head over to Three Lives Bar for a fun & unique night out
If I haven’t convinced you how awesome Three Lives Bar is yet, then I don’t know what you’re thinking! My husband and I have been a fan of barcades for years. (Did you know that we are avid gamers? A little video, but mostly board and card games. We own over 300. No joke.)
Two of our favorite bar/arcades are A4CADE in Boston and Arcade Odyssey in Boston. Syracuse was due for its own! And it really stands out. With the great food, drinks, staff, and overall experience, it’s a must for any local’s date night, happy hour, or late night with friends. Heck, it’s even worth the drive if you live far away!
Fun fact: Dustin Dean, a local magician, made a TikTok video about Three Lives Bar that went viral. We’re talking nearly 2 million views. And in the middle of the pandemic, people were coming from out-of-state and quarantining just to visit Three Lives. THAT is how cool this place is.
Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!