15 February 2009

Don's Mixed Drinks

Zooming down 6th in my car, all I saw was a sign with the glowing words 'Don's Mixed Drinks'. What could be more intriguing than a place with 'Mixed Drinks' in the name (other than perhaps one with 'Beer' in the name)? And I still remember my first time through the doors, 3-years or so ago. Since then it has had a somewhat revered aura in my head, between the crappy wood paneling, the closet sized bathroom, the shuffleboard table, the ceiling tiles that looked like they were held together by brown stains, and that name... Don's Mixed Drinks. It didn't hurt that on that first trip the whole place was enshrouded in smoke. Regardless, I was excited to make a trip back.

That trip back came last weekend. I found it to still be lovably shabby, aside from the glare of neon that now highlighted the back bar. The name had changed to Don's Club Tavern, though to my dismay I found out that may have been the name all along. The smoke had also lifted, and the clarity opened my eyes to the true identity of Don's... a grade A faux dive bar. A fro-dive, if you will. To be certain, a crappy interior does not a dive bar make. The crowd was young, smartly dressed, and enjoying plenty of Pabst Blue Ribbons. I was also unaware that the mixed drinks were mainly of the Red Bull variety. Foul. Matt and I sat anonymously at a booth in the corner, enjoying a nice pairing of a High Life bottle and a mixed drink (had to). The drinks set us back $12 (solid for four bevs), and we watched the meat market scene, one that was more LoDo than East Colfax, unfold. About the time we were finishing up our beverages and deciding whether or not we wanted seconds, I noticed a sign on the far west wall of the bar which read 'After 80 years, Don's Club Tavern is finally expanding. Track the progress at myspace.com/donsclubtavern.' Apparently even the shab was not cool enough for Don's anymore. Thoroughly defeated, we left, hanging our heads in silence and mourning the passing of a classic.

Don's Club Tavern serves mixed drinks on 723 E. 6th in Denver, right around the corner from LoDo.

08 February 2009

Back to Bruno's

Add another name to the list of hard rockers that died young: Bruno's Saloon. (Here's a link to the post about my earlier visit) I can only speculate as to the reason Bruno's would have shut down. Perhaps the fact that one could drive by on any given night and easily come to the conclusion that it was abandoned? Or, the fact that you could sit in the parking lot on any given night and still question whether or not it was abandoned? Bruno's was a solid enough dive bar, but one thing about dive bars is that they tend to scrape by on some unknown means - they can be oppressively yet pleasantly seedy and still generate enough patronage to keep the doors open, but not enough to replace the light bulbs in the sign out in the parking lot. Bruno's apparently did not quite get this equation figured out. You can't say they didn't try, though. It is apparent from the pictures of their sign that they tried to cram their entire monthly list of specials onto seven lines - an attempt at efficiency that I enjoyed, but can confidently qualify as a failure. I think they chopped the M for Monday in half to fit more on the sign. Outstanding.
One thing is certain: In the run-down forest that is the Denver dive bar community, I heard Brunos fall.

Maybe someone got shocked out in the parking lot. Did somebody say High Voltage?