24 March 2009

The Lancer Lounge

'I promise it's not a gay bar,' Matt told me as we made our way to The Lancer Lounge. Not that it mattered, despite the fact that we were two dudes out on the prowl together. Ok, not exactly prowling... our objective could be better described as slow-moving loitering. Luckily that type of attitude turned out to be par for the course at The Lancer, which is right up our alley.

The Lancer is located interestingly enough next to some uber-posh restaurant Matt had been to on a previous occasion, the patrons of which glare at you through a plate glass window as you pass. He described it as the type of place where you eat dinner, leave, then have to go somewhere else to eat dinner again because the piece of asparagus and medallion of beef they charged you $22 for did not quite cut it. The Lancer was quite the opposite. Everyone is too content or inebriated to glare, and we drank all night for $24.

To call The Lancer cozy is a bit of an understatement. The dark wood paneled ceiling was low enough to make you think you were in someone's basement. A sign on the cash register stating 'No Tabs!' welcomes patrons. The full bar, overwhelmingly full, has bottles stacked and crowded on every inch of open real estate on the back bar, some teetering on the brink of disaster. Speaking of the back bar, there was a small window there that looked through to the game room where a pool table and a crappy pinball machine reside. A nice touch. At one point during the evening, the bartender shouted 'Steve! Window!' to the other guy working there (for some reason they needed a multi-person staff to serve the six patrons). Steve proceeded to head around to the game room where the bartender set up a couple of shots in the window that they pounded. Steve then returned to whatever it was he had been doing. A bar staff that is drinking always gives me encouragement.

The crew of drinkers kept things interesting. There was the token guy sitting in the corner by himself getting blitzed on pitcher after pitcher of beer. Not much to talk to, but fun to watch. There was the pony-tailed bartender, dressed suavely in his white jeans and white fruit-of the loom T. He could easily have doubled as the bad guy on any given episode of C.H.i.Ps. Sitting next to us at the bar was a friend of ours, at least he acted as such. He stared at us quite a bit, alternating between an uncomfortable grin and a painful grimace, and grunted in our direction every so often. You cannot get much better than that, and you cannot get much better than The Lancer Lounge for a solid dive bar.

The Lancer Lounge is located at 233 E. 7th. Don't even think about opening a tab.

Lancer Lounge on Urbanspoon

08 March 2009

The Montview Bar & Grill

The Montview Bar & Grill: So much promise, so very little delivery. Located on a dark and cranky section of east Montview, its location has the makings of a great one. Unfortunately judging dive bars by their exteriors is as fickle a business as judging beers by their fancy labels. The night I pulled in, the place had the atmosphere of a senior center. A bunch of kids were playing slow games of pool in a large, well lit room off to one side. Most of the patrons in the main bar sat around watching with disinterest as a DJ tried in vain to drum up support for his karaoke session. We hardly lasted a beer.

The Montview Bar & Grill is located at 11680 Montview in west Aurora, up near Fitzsimons.

07 March 2009

The Sports Station Bar & Grill

I had a good feeling about The Sports Station Bar & Grill before going in the door, just based on the homemade sign out front, that was leaning curiously. And it did not disappoint.

The Sports Station Bar & Grill earned high marks as a dive bar. It had Busch on tap, a lousy beer if there ever was one, unless you are drinking in St. Louis (I've done that, and even in St. Louis I'd call it marginal). There was a bar know-it-all, a guy in overalls looking like he just rolled in from a Dexy's Midnight Runners tryout, who insisted to anyone listening that the brunette in Just Shoot Me was the same brunette that wowed us in Full House. Nothing like intelligent conversation over a pitcher of Busch to set young minds along the path of enlightenment. It's not the same brunette, by the way. The Station also provided questionable entertainment: One of the TVs over the bar was playing a rousing episode of How Stuff Works, where we learned how to put together an engine, no doubt to further the atmosphere of the Station as a place of learning. I've never been to a bar before where educational programs were considered to be a good choice for the barroom TVs, though I did catch some cartoons at The Silver Fox one morning, an interesting choice. If you tired of learning, you could turn your eyes to the other TV, which was broadcasting closed circuit video shots of the parking lot. Not much of a confidence booster in the neighborhood, though it beats going outside every half hour to make sure your car has not been stolen. Finally, the coup-de-grace could be found in the restroom, though I assume only in the men's restroom (sorry ladies). Trough urinals - a little touch of class that makes the bar patrons feel like family.

I am a firm believer that running a dive bar takes leadership. Matt and I saw a first hand example when we ran into the owner of The Station toward the end of the night. He had actually been there as long as we had, but was doing his best impression of the guy getting plowed by himself in the corner of the bar (a character you'll find in most dive bars). 'As long as there's people here drinkin, I'll keep the bar open,' the bar owner Brett told Matt and I when we asked when the bar closed. It was not until later that I realized that he had imparted on us a dive bar pearl of wisdom: Concentrate on the drink, let everything else go to pot, and a dive bar is born.

I don't think the arrow actually points to the front door.

The Sports Station Bar & Grill is located at 850 Dayton on the west side of Aurora. It is open 24 hours a day, as long as you're drinkin.