'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.
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