Welcome to the Indy's 2007 Drink Guide, an issue aimed at introducing you to some destinations that may be off the standard, sometimes crookedly navigated path.
After our original theme got nixed by the U.S. Olympic Committee (no joke!), we chose to structure this issue as a "Drinkathlon." Ten events, spanning the area and the gamut of bar experiences. Not that drinking doesn't have enough games already associated with it, and not that we want you to visit all of these places in one evening, but you'd be surprised at all the things that make these locales unique and worth a visit.
Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of bars in the area. Of course, you can do a "shot put" just about anywhere. We simply aim to give you a few options, no matter what your neighborhood or pleasure.
Wear tube socks, sweatbands, dork shorts and team jerseys if you prefer. Regardless, have fun as you support these and the other great bars in town. And remember, it's not our intention with this guide to glorify binge drinking so don't do anything stupid in our names. (Let us take care of that.)
And, please, do not drive drunk. Thanks, and salud.
Matthew Schniper, calendars editor
Find your pants, strap on your walkin' shoes and get ready to take on the west side. See that lock on your door? If you successfully complete the long jump, you'll no longer see it as a security device but instead some dastardly mechanism, a puzzle of Hellraiser Rubix Cube proportions, that stands in the way between you and falling asleep on the couch.
You're gonna want to warm up at Benny's (517 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9309), located right across the bridge from downtown. Get your hands sandy with some old-fashioned shuffleboard, a game whose indoor version gives you the good parts of curling (i.e., shuffling) while taking away curling's hassles, such as brooms and people from Michigan.
Next on your list is Meadow Muffins (2432 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0583, meadowmuffins.com), where you can indulge in some fried goodness and get a good "hear, hear!" if you mention you're still pissed that the Bears lost the Super Bowl. The place has also got plenty of knick-knacks, paintings, photos and props from Gone With the Wind to look at and say "huh?" to.
Be mindful of your crosswalks when you head on to Thunder & Buttons II (2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888, thunderand buttons.com). If it's a weekend, you can bet your honey-sweet ass there'll be a band upstairs with an audience rocking hard enough to impress the likes of Kevin Bacon (who could not be reached to verify) or David Lee Roth (I didn't even try).
Now cool down. You've got to pace yourself. Stop on in the Red Rock Lounge (3110 W. Colorado Ave., 634-9222), where the chairs have wheels, the bartender is just as friendly as you are and your fellow patrons love real country music, not that alt-country crap. Sit back, down a shot of Wild Turkey and watch the game.
You've edged closer and closer; the time has come to cross the Manitou line. As daunting as it is to walk past two ... count 'em, two! ... places that make bears out of chainsaws, you just can't pass up a buffalo burger at The Keg (730 Manitou Ave., 685-9531). Stare up at the collection of police and fire badges that adorn the walls as you joke with the bartender and fill up with buffalo or grilled-chicken goodness.
Alas, all good foods must come to an end, or be put in one of those carryout containers that you're going to forget on your way out. Move on to The Townhouse Lounge (907 Manitou Ave., 685-1085), where you can put your feet up on the patio, try one of the many drinks on tap or just gnaw on some wings with the easygoing clientele.
And sometimes you've just gotta sit back, snag a pitcher and talk bikes. The Royal Tavern (924 Manitou Ave., 685-9916) is the perfect spot to shoot a game of pool and talk about the "cylinders" and "pipes" on your badass Harley or Vespa. If you ride a Huffy and are out of conversation-starters, you can always sit back and people-watch through their huge portrait windows.
Keep watching, and you might notice that everyone is wearing mountain gear. "How odd," you'll say. "Here?" Curse yourself for rhyming and then follow them to Kinfolks (950 Manitou Ave., 685-4433, kinfolksmani tou.com), a place where you can buy a beer and snag a coat for good measure. Watch an acoustic performance, sip a drink and hang out among some of the friendliest people this side of the Mississippi.
As good of a time that you're having, I'm afraid a new paragraph has started, which means you're going to be moving on to The Ancient Mariner (962 Manitou Ave., 685-5503). Fear not, as the Mariner is pretty boss in itself. Pizza automagically flies in through the window behind the bar as patrons shoot pool, talk about their new band or lull you into a state of complacency with their new take on "Don't Stop Believin'," a karaoke favorite.
All of this "walking" has made you hungry again. (Apparently, if I say "drinking," some of you will get so angry you won't be able to quilt straight.) End your night at The Loop (965 Manitou Ave., 685-9344, theloopatmanitou.com) munching on a pollo ensanada that's so good, the unintentional sounds of satisfaction you make will have people be embarrassed for you. End your night with one of 13 specialty margaritas, content in how you successfully completed the metaphorically stretched long jump.
Now, all you have to do is call yourself a cab, remember that carry-out box and start plotting as to how you're going to conquer that freaking door lock. SK
In the high jump, athletes throw themselves over a bar. You shouldn't; it'll enrage the bartender. If you crave height, these three live-music bars are a short drive up the pass.
At 7,800 feet: Pine Gables Tavern (10530 Ute Pass Ave., Green Mountain Falls, 684-2555, pinegables.com). Next to Gazebo Lake, it features worn wooden walls adorned with dollar bills. Grab a slice of pizza next door.
7,981 feet: The Crystola Roadhouse (20918 U.S. Hwy. 24, Crystola, 687-7879, crystolaroadhouse.com). Built on property that once hosted cathouse cabins, it boasts log tables and good green chili that'll warm you on wintry nights. The stage has a cabin wall as a backdrop with blues, country and rock in the forefront.
8,293 feet: Ute Inn (204 Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 687-1465). Continually operating as a bar and grill since 1936, it serves dollar drafts on weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. If it's Tuesday, get into a pool tournament; if it's Thursday, give poker a try. AB
Since donning cross-country skis and shooting rifles can be problematic within city limits, we suggest you stick to downing brewskis and shooting liquor in these two hip gay- and bi-friendly spots.
Start at Club Q (3430 N. Academy Blvd., 570-1429, clubqonline.com). Feast on hot breakfast all day; let your eyes feast upon hot male strippers every Wednesday night. Theme parties are held year-round.
Then from Academy, head downtown to The Underground (110 N. Nevada Ave., 578-7771, undergroundbars.com). This warm industrial complex offers everything from karaoke and electronica to pizza and poker. With multiple levels and rooms, it's not hard to find fresh new faces. AB
Time to make like Travolta, readers. The floor exercise is next.
This one will take both skill and stamina. Do not drive you'll want to cab it downtown and back. Check with your doctor before proceeding. Oh, and talk with your banker, too each of these establishments charges you a fee just for stepping inside.
The first stop: SoDo (527 S. Tejon St., 314-0424, sodonightlife.com), which derives its name from being wait for it south downtown. It won the Best New Bar of the Springs award from Indy readers last year. We like it for the video DJs. Order a Red Bull and vodka, get your juices flowing and dance to some retro music videos. And when Rick James' "Give it to Me, Baby" spins, we ask that you please do the Roger Rabbit.
Next, hail a cab and head on up to Eden Nite Club (217 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-0999, edenniteclub.com), which, you'll note, is located in an old church. Say a prayer, down a Tuaca Bomb (Tuaca and Red Bull), and challenge one of the employees paid to dance on the platforms to a dance-off. Put her in her place when you bust out the Electric Slide.
Then head a couple of blocks west to Rum Bay (20 N. Tejon St., 634-3522), which claims to be a whopping eight nightclubs in one. Quickly order up a Jager Bomb (Jagermeister and Red Bull) at the first bar you can find, down it and head on upstairs to the retro disco room. Tell the DJ to throw on "The Hustle" and get that dance floor grooving like it's 1975.
Sure, it's late now, but you're so amped up on Red Bull, you can't tell the difference. Head across the street from Rum Bay and check out Club Vue (25 N. Tejon St., 630-0500), which says it's a four-in-one venue. Slip in before they close the entrance doors for the night, and you just bought yourself an extra two hours of party time anyone inside the building before 2 a.m. gets to keep on dancing (sans booze) until 4. Buy yourself a water and then another and keep dancing. You're probably a little worn out, so we suggest the Rockaway.
Then go home and take a shower. After all that butt-shakin', you probably reek. PF
Thinkin' horses, boots and cowboy hats? And stereotypical cowboy-related wordplay? You will be, come our Friday night equestrian competition.
Mosey over to Cowboys Night Club (3910 Palmer Park Blvd., 596-1212, csnightclubs.com/cowboys) for a little boot-scootin', electric-slidin', two-steppin' action. After a few spins about the large hardwood dance floor, help yourself to a $5 steak or chicken dinner, grab a pool table or belt out your best Garth Brooks in the bar's karaoke room.
When you're ready for your next watering hole, head for Rowdy's Night Club (414 W. Fillmore Ave., 635-9211). Don't let the location throw you off. Tucked into the corner of a small strip mall, this club will keep your toes tappin' to the music of all the hottest country stars.
Finally, stop at 21st Street's Mill Hill Saloon (1668 S. 21st St., 632-6932). When you see the bucking white horse on the roof, you'll know you're in the right place. Once inside, shimmy up to the bar for a beer or whiskey. Either one will fit right in, with George Jones playing in your ear. KA
Tejon Street slalom
Is this the boldest, most challenging slalom course ever? Probably, but you've got everything you need to survive right in your hands. The only question is: Are you destined for eternal glory?
This challenge is going to require your utmost concentration so we suggest you make your first stop Rico's (322 N. Tejon St., 630-7723, poorrichardswebsite.com). Get your energy pumping by grabbing a double-shot latte.
Next, you'll have to keep your eye off the prize and head right across the street to Tony's (311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566). We're certain that you won't find another place in Colorado Springs to serve deep-fried, Wisconsin-style cheese curds. Even if you could, would you trust them? So down some curds and move on.
Heading back across the street, don't worry if it feels like you went a little too far south. Grab an Alamo margarita, some chips and a little salsa, and you'll know you're at Jose Muldoon's (222 N. Tejon St., 636-2311, josemuldoons.com). You can't go wrong at the place with the world record for the largest margarita ever made.
Before the tequila goes to your head, take a moment and compose yourself. Stop at Rendezvous Lounge (128 N. Tejon St., 632-1381) next. We recommend that you choose from the constantly changing selection of fine cigars rolled at the bar because if you try to choose from the 300 kinds of vodka, you'll be here all night.
Now, think you can eat pizza while playing simultaneous games of pool and foosball? Visit Old Chicago (118 N. Tejon St., 634-8812, oldchicago.com) and give it a try while downing one of the more than 100 beers offered. But make sure to get in a good stretch first.
If you tuck in your shirt, they'll probably let you in the door at The Famous (31 N. Tejon St., 227-7333, restauranteur.com/famous), but anybody could do that. Here's the real challenge: Try testing tonight's pianist on his knowledge of '80s pop. You know he knows "Purple Rain." He just needs some encouragement.
Feeling like you need some encouragement? We suggest you get some company. A stop off at the Ritz Grill (15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484, ritzgrill.com) this year's winner of the Indy's "Best Place to Hook Up" award will almost guarantee finding a special companion. Just try not to spend too much time in the Elbo Room; you still have a long way to go.
Now it's your time to shine. Throw on your jig shoes and head down the sidewalk to Jack Quinn's (21 S. Tejon St., 385-0766, jackquinnspub.com). Jump on the floor and show your friends why they called you "Lord of the Dance" in high school.
Keep jigging your way right across the street to The Thirsty Parrot (32 S. Tejon St., 884-1094, thirstyparrot.net). Known for its live music, The Parrot is always looking for some new talent. Think you could be the next Colorado Springs Idol? Grab the mic. "You'll never make it?" In your face, Mom and Dad!
OK there, champ. Let's take things down a bit and highlight your sophisticated side. The world of fine art is in dire need of a new face grab your sketches (impromptu works usually go over best) and stop at the FAC Modern Jazz Bistro (121 S. Tejon St., 634-5581, csfineartscenter.org/bistro.asp) to hang them. Don't take no for an answer. (Unless you have to.)
Feeling parched? We can't blame you: You haven't had a drink since Old Chicago! MacKenzie's Chop House (128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536, restauranteur.com/mackenzieschophousecom) is sure to have just the martini for you. We suggest you try the Lemon Drop. Go ahead, kick back. Make sure to catch your breath and get your energy back, because it ain't over yet.
Next, you need to prove your love for seafood: Oscar's (333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070, oscarstejonstreet.com) is up. Since you've always been wondering but were too embarrassed to try here's your chance: How many oysters (raw, of course) can you fit in your mouth? Your friends know the Heimlich, right?
Lost? Confused? Just keep heading south; you'll eventually find McCabe's (520 S. Tejon St., 633-3300, mccabestavern.com). Grab some 18-year-old Jameson and you'll be right at home. While you're at it, talk to the guy next to you about the Aussie Rules football, rugby or soccer game undoubtedly showing on the TVs.
Now it's time for the big, explosive finish. Southside Johnny's (528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487, southsidejohnnys.biz) is just a few doors down, and your last stop on this slalom. Pick your "bomb" cherry, perhaps and down it quick. Now do the celebration dance. You've earned it. Just make sure you've called the cab first. CS
This one's a bit of a stretch, we admit. Eastern Colorado Springs = flat = horizontal? We urge you to go with it, though since you won't be walking from bar to bar, you may want to break it up over a couple days, or at least quite a few hours, and with a designated driver. You'll be glad you did.
What better first stop could you ask for than Kelly O'Brian's Sports Bar & Grill (239 N. Academy Blvd., 573-1976)? It claims to be the only bar in town carrying the 180 energy drink. Mixing this orange, citrus-flavored beverage with Parrot Bay Pineapple Rum creates a concoction the bartenders like to call a "crush." The surge of energy from this adrenaline boost may be sufficient to destroy your inhibitions and cause you to grab the mic and sing some karaoke, which is going on here every night except for Saturday, when live bands play.
Even after all the fun hitherto, you realize it's time to get moving again. There's still a distance to be conquered. After the second lap, you'll have the privilege of stopping off at George's Union Station (2419 N. Union Blvd., 227-7168, unionstationrocks.com). Here, live bands play almost every night of the week. Wednesday is hip-hop night, so be careful not to hurt yourself. You're likely to leave this station happy because happy hour is all day, every day, until 7 p.m.
After lap three, there's Loonee's Comedy Club (1305 N. Academy Blvd., 591-0707, loonees.com). Here, you can learn how to be a professional comedian at the Sunday Comedy Workshop, which begins at 5:30. You may as well get your money's worth, because paying the $5 fee will get you admission to the Sunday night show at 8. While you're at it, try the "Jerry Lewis Classic French Dip" or "Tonya Harding's Club Sandwich."
The last half of the event is a breeze. A huge rainbow appears, coming from DJ's Bar and Grill (1110 E. Fillmore St., 473-2425, djsbarandgrill.com). There's more than gold here: Flashing lights and disco balls galore illuminate the hot dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights. The music will definitely keep you moving.
Next stop is Bernie's Place (1106 N. Circle Drive, 635-7865), and it's well worth it for the $4 Bloody Marys. That's sure to remedy any ailments incurred up to this point.
The last lap toward your final stop brings you to Sharky's Bar & Grill (5910 Omaha Blvd., 638-1180). Although Friday night features live music, and Tuesday night is Ladies Night, try movie day on Sundays. Don't be too tempted by the $2.50 margaritas, though, or you'll be inclined to start this one all over again. CR
What the heck is Nordic combined, anyway? Apparently, it has something to do with ski jumping and cross-country skiing. Except, that is, in Colorado Springs where we've determined that it should involve lots of cold drafts, fried foods and even a little karaoke.
Wax up your skis, so to speak, at Frankie's Bar and Grill (945 N. Powers Blvd., 574-4881, frankiesbargrill.com), Colorado Springs' version of Cheers. This neighborhood bar offers steaks, burgers and fries, friendly service and a bevy of alcoholic beverages. For those farther out east, make your start at Frankie's Too! (7376 McLaughlin Road, Falcon, 495-8707, frankiestoo.com).
Next, you won't find any languishing bugs at The Dead Ant Tavern (4348 Montebello Drive, 598-9867, deadanttavern.com). You will, however, need to pick up a few darts or a pool cue to meet your challenge here tourneys and leagues are the thing.
At Dublin House Sports Bar & Grill (1850 Dominion Way, 265-8820, dublinhouseco.com), it's all about sports, sports, sports. Catch all the games you need on 14 big-screen TVs. Settle in with some poppers and a brew.
Your fourth jump lands you at Good Com-pany (7625 N. Union Blvd., 528-8877, good companybar.com). If you want to go where you'll see familiar faces week after week, Good Company is the place. Also, they have karaoke five nights a week. Head to the bar and order a "GC Mile High" first to wet your singing whistle.
More sports are to be had at Cleats Bar and Grill (6624 Delmonico Drive, 548-8267). Order burgers, fries and your very own bucket of beer for a stop that could rival one from a college-era memory.
Happy your run is almost complete? The Iron Horse Cantina (4325 N. Nevada Ave., 235-5365) wraps it all up. Any night of the week, enjoy a late-night happy hour, 11 p.m. to close. The sign over the door reads, "Beer, Bikes and Babes." Sit outside (in the summer), and you can add an awesome view of Pikes Peak to that list. KA
The triple jump, as Olympians know it, is essentially a hop, a skip and a jump. As you'll come to know it, brave readers, it's an old diner, a national landmark and a blue-collar refuge, all on North Nevada Avenue. Sure, it's only three stops. But it takes brass ones, baby.
Your first stop: Murphy's Tavern (2729 N. Nevada Ave., 634-9196). Murph's has been in its converted diner location since 1954. There's something special about Murphy's the patrons all have a very young look to them. Maybe it's something in the drinks? Find out by downing a Lunchbox (a shot of Amaretto dropped into a mix of orange juice and beer). And do it as the baby-faces across the bar cheer you on.
Next, walk your way north a few storefronts and step into the Navajo Hogan Roadhouse (2817 N. Nevada Ave., 632-5490, navajohoganroadhouse.com). Once inside the renovated Navajo (owner Mike Miles reopened the joint in July), sing some karaoke hell, they've got it four nights a week or take in some live tunes. Then down a Harley Oil (Phillips Black 100 and Phillips Root 100), a shot Miles calls "angry."
Your last stop: Robin Hood Lounge (2830 N. Nevada Ave., 520-0363), across the street. Here, take in the Robin Hood dcor (of Disney's fox variety, mind you) and try to find the dirty images hidden among the murals. Next, pay a quarter to the bartender to find out what the sign above the bar that reads "YCJCYAQFTJB' means. Lastly, buy yourself a Hamm's draft to end the night. It'll only cost you $1.30. PF
Show your love for the dive bar. No frills, no cutesy frozen drinks, no pretense. If you feel like keeping it low-key tonight, try this trio. It'll require a car, so make sure you have a designated driver.
Begin by plunging into the windowless cinderblock enclave that is the Ivywild Inn (1529 S. Nevada Ave., 636-9532). This small Mom-and-Pop bar has been open since 1953, so you may even run into your own Momma or Poppa playing pool or darts, or singing karaoke.
Warmed up and feeling a little mischievous? Head to Rascals (1785 B St., near Fort Carson, 576-2238). If you catch it on a Sunday night, you'll get to hear the hip-hop band, Royal Click. If it's a Monday or Tuesday night, there'll be free pool and beer specials.
Finally, move on over to Spanky's Grill (445 E. Cheyenne Mtn. Blvd., Suite G, 538-0068), known for its fantastic buffalo-wing deals. They come in an assortment of different varieties, including hot, mild, Baja and barbecue. Wednesdays, the burgers are only $5, any way you want them. If it's a Friday or Saturday evening, play Texas Hold 'Em. If you win, your $25 bar-tab prize will get you quite a few $3 shots. This reward is more than worth it. CR
Thanks to our Drinkathlon contributors: Kirsten Akens, Ashley Boudreaux, Pete Freedman, Steve Kline, Christina A. Roller and Colin Stroud. A very special thanks to Colin and his fellow shameless photo subjects: Clara Carroll, Chris Lathrop, Kylie Manson and Steve Ullman.