So here is the rest of the story - after the stain had dried, I gave just the top and the sides of the bar 3 coats of polyurethane - Minwax clear gloss. I used a foam roller and donned my stylish blue glove again for that process. I poly'ed inside because it was pretty cold out - 40's and 30's during the night, and I did not want to mess up the dry time - the can said it would "take longer" in colder temps, which is pretty ambiguous, so I played it safe in my 70 degree living room.
Meanwhile, T.J. installed the brackets - we bought $4 brackets from Menards. When the poly had dried for a few days, we lifted the wood up onto its place on the brackets (which was a chore! That wood is heavy!) - Then he screwed it in from the bottom as well. Done! That is it! Beautiful bar complete. I have also since painted the screws white, apparently black was all we had.
Quick, pretty easy, and a cheap cheap project (We spent $15 on wood, $5 on stain, $8 on brackets = $28)
(From the kitchen side - excuse T.J.'s woodworking mess)
We are still on the lookout for bar stools - I keep wishing it was summer and garage sale season, I know I could find what I am looking for there. So for now, I just stand at the bar and pretend. I hear standing while you work increases your productivity! Bonus!