So. SIDE / BARS. Do people use this term in life outside of, say, apparently in a court of law, where a conversation between judge and lawyers that the jury does not get to hear, is in fact, a sidebar? I definitely see its use in magazines (say ESPN, the magazine) where extraneous related material is placed in a separate section to the side. But I've never thought of using it in the sense of an "off-the-record discussion".
On the other hand, it could have been clued thusly: "Cocktail made up of vodka, triple sec, and chambord ... or 12 answers in this puzzle?" That I would have been more appreciative of, and it would have followed nicely from yesterday's theme. In fact, why aren't all the themes about cocktails? We had a very nice Manhattan the other day, with maraschino cherries and all. Teetotallers excluded, would anybody complain?
That little issue aside, I really like the double columns of answers that end in "bar" to complete them. I did not cotton to the theme ahead of the revealer, despite already having 1D: Concession stand (SNACK[BAR]) and 2D: High-carb bite (POWER[BAR]) in place. We've seen themes where the outside edges are all the theme answers, but the doubling up adds to the difficulty here without taking from the general goodness of the fill.
Because of having twelve theme answers of four to five letters each, there's a paucity of lengthy answers in the grid as a whole. We just saw AAARATED not that long ago - no, strike that: it was AAABONDS in Sunday's puzzle. FIREOPALS is fine. I've never heard of a TRIMOTOR before. Here is one for future reference:
I had a strange moment when I saw DIETER crossing ENGEL, thinking of Mike Myers as the German talk show host of Sprockets meeting up with Karl Marx's collaborator, Friedrich Engels. Neither of these things is correct. On the other, hand, 49D: Weather phenomenon named for baby Jesus (ELNINO) reminded me of this: