Tuesday, January 31, 2012


June 2010

So I walk in to Restaurant 1521 and order a whiskey...

What? Why is Barfly going in to a restaurant for a whiskey?

Okay so here's what happened: Some friends and I wanted to go out for a drink on St. Patty's Day. None of us really wanted to hang out with throngs of people pretending to be Irish so they could have an excuse to get drunk and puke all over themselves. I've been in 1521 for dinner and knew they had a nice, quiet little bar, so I suggested going there.

The restaurant section had already closed when we walked in, but my friend was standing behind a nicely lit bar and welcomed us with a smile to sit down and have a drink.

I can't tell you how nice it was to sit at a dim, warm and inviting bar. And, what's this? I looked on the shelf behind the bar and discovered a really nice selection of whiskies! Oh, yay!

Seeing as it was St. Patty's day I thought I'd go with an Irish whiskey. It was recommended that I try Jameson Gold. I was game as it was something I had never tried before.

My bartender friend said, "Now you're not going write about me in Barfly, are you?"

I contemplated and replied, "Maybe... Maybe not"

She said, "Well at least I'll give you a good pour."

Mmmm... Not really. It was only about an once.

Okay kiddies, it's time for an extra special math lesson from your friendly neighborhood Barfly. One fluid ounce = 29.57353 ml, weighs approximately 0.0652 pounds, has a mass of 1.80468754 cubic inches and is equal to two tablespoons. The diameter on a good-sized rocks glass is 2.75 inches. Now, take two tablespoons of liquid and put it in a glass with a diameter of 2.75 inches, factor in Euclidian space, divide by Pi and I think you'll see what I'm getting at.

Still unclear? See the diagram.

I have no qualms paying for high-quality whisky - if the pour is decent. And an extra ounce can make all the difference in a "good pour." I will say this, too: when the regular bartenders at 1521 have been behind the bar, the pours have been better.

Okay, enough with mathematics. I was so happy that we were hanging out in a nice, quiet place, I couldn't be bothered with the particulars of alcohol measures. There were no green beers or Jager bombs at 1521, and that alone made me happy.

I let my buddies have a taste of my Jameson Gold, and was returned an empty glass. I looked up on the shelf and was amazed to see Bruichladdich, one of Scotland's finest Islay whiskies. It hard enough to find good whiskies around town, let alone one of the best. Good job, guys!

One of my friends was extremely pleased when his hunger was satiated with some exquisite mac and cheese from an already-closed kitchen. Now that's customer service!

If you're looking for a place with a great atmosphere and a great selection of whiskey, give 1521 a try. Tell 'em Barfly sent you!

A note to my readers: "Barfly" is not a bar review, but rather a story of my experiences in these bars. I am a man who enjoys good service, selection and value. I know that there are others out there like me because of the reaction to the April Fools edition of "Barfly," and also because bars have vastly improved their selection and service after my visit.

Even the owner of the Pirates Cove told me, "I bought bigger glasses because of you!"

You see? It works... So there!


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Magpie's Taproom

March 2010

So I walk in to Magpie's Taproom and order a whisky...

Many of you may not know of the Taproom at Magpies because of the weird hours they keep. With the exception of Fridays, they are only open until two in the afternoon Monday through Saturday.

The Taproom is located in the basement of Magpies. As I made my way down the stairs, I was greeted by clean, modern interior design. With walls painted crisp white, the Taproom reminds me of a high-class speakeasy back in New York. But who wants to hear all this crap about décor... Let's get drinking!

Once again I was met with a high-end whiskey-challenged bar. I would love to find another bar or two here in Pueblo that get a little more creative than the Macallan 12 year. Don't get me wrong; Macallan is a fine whisky. But with over 90 single malt Scotch makers, you'd think you might see something more interesting than Macallan or Glenlivet. The Taproom, however, did have one of my favorite Bourbons: Buffalo Trace.

Imagine the joy that swelled in my heart when the bartender thunked down a grown man-sized rocks glass as opposed to the glorified shot glasses I've drunk out of in so many places. When I ordered my drink the bartender explained to me that it was her first day behind the bar, the real bartender was upstairs doing dishes, and if I could point out the drink I wanted, she would appreciate it.

Imagine now if you will my grave disappointment when she measured out a one ounce shot and poured it into my glass. Sacrilege! This pour barely formed a film at the bottom of my glass. It was more reminiscent of the dry remains that I find in the morning at the bottom of my whisky glass from the night before. I didn't call attention to it as it was the bartender's first day, she was really nice and I didn't want to seem like a dick.

BARFLY TIP: Whisky drinkers don't drink shots of whisky. They drink drinks of whisky. A good form of measurement is the two-finger method. If you have two fingers worth of whisky (as measured from the bottom of the glass), you've got a good pour. It might average an inch to an inch and a half, depending on the glass. An eighth of an inch pour? Not so much. Don't worry bar owners: we whisky drinkers will pay for a good pour.

So I take my glass of whisky film back to my table and join my friends. Even they are amused and dismayed by the pour. I figure I'll wait until the real bartender returns before I order another drink.

The Taproom boasts a "huge" selection of micro-brews. They do have quite a few taps. I must say that my date, an avid beer enjoyer, was not very impressed with the selection. They did not have an IPA (India Pale Ale), which in any self-respecting "tap room" theses days, should be a staple. They did have Murphy's which in my opinion is one of the best stouts, but is by no means a microbrew. The one true microbrew they offered was out.

Finally someone new got behind the bar and I ventured over for a new drink. Unfortunately, this girl used the one ounce shot measure as well. She did, however, throw a couple of more drops in my glass. Oh, yay-that made all the difference!

Despite the poor pours and lack of an IPA, I really did enjoy my visit to the Taproom. Our waitress was incredibly friendly and tried really hard to make everyone in our party happy. Looks like it would be a great place to have a party! As long as it's before 2pm or on a Friday.


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Pirates Cove

February 2010

So I walk in to the Pirates Cove and order a whiskey…

That’s right my little twinkies, I am secure enough with my heterosexuality that I can walk in to a gay bar and get me a drink.

The only thing I have against gays is that because of them, I can no longer use the word ‘gay’ in derogatory fashion! As a kid, I never knew it had anything to do with sexuality and I feel slighted that this (and related words) have to be removed from my vocabulary.

Anyway… The Pirates Cove takes the whole pirate theme to the extreme: They have a bar that’s shaped like a boat, a few pirate pictures on the wall, and that’s about it. The outside of the bar is adorned with the lovely fine art of Coors and Bud Light. Arghhh, matey!

So I stepped up to the bar boat and grabbed me a Crown Royal, as it was the closest thing to a good whiskey that the Pirates Cove had. That’s right, I said it! I like Scotch, Bourbon, Irish whiskies and I even like Kentucky Sour Mash.

Canadian whisky? Not so much. I think there’s a thing or two the Canadians need to learn “aboot” distilling whiskey.

I will admit that Crown is pretty tasty though. Too bad it was poured into a child-sized rocks glass. What the hell was I supposed to do with that? I took a sip and added two drops of water because if I added more, the ratio of water to whiskey would be leaning on the side of aqua pura.

The patrons that night at Pirates Cove were sooooo gay—and I mean that in the merry sense! A lot of them were out on the dance floor dancing their asses off and having a grand old time. Much drinking and merriment can be found at the Pirates Cove.

However, I noticed that after these merry people consumed many a shot of liquor, things changed. The mood wasn’t so gay in the gay bar anymore. People started arguing and a fight soon after ensued. People, let me tell you that you have not lived until you have seen a gay fight.

Imagine this: Two girls, each holding a fistful of the other’s hair, screaming at each other, “I’m going to fucking kill you!” I’m not sure how you can kill someone by pulling out their hair, but they sure seemed intent on it.

After about two minutes of hair pulling the girls were kissing and making up, telling each other that they were sorry and saying “I love you so fucking much.”

I saw some guys have a great argument as well. Wagging fingers in each other’s faces and screaming in high-pitched voices “No you didn’t!” and, “You’re such a bitch!” Again the argument was resolved with hugs and kisses. I wonder if fighting is some kind of gay mating ritual.

The most entertaining character would have to be the owner of the Pirates Cove. I had an interesting conversation with her outside of the bar.

She said, “I just want to tell you that I think you’re quite attractive. Well, for a guy that is. I’m a lesbian but I can still notice these things. You’re very handsome. You just need to get a fucking haircut!”

She kept jabbing me in the chest with her finger as if to drive the point home. She then continued, “You see? I just paid you a nice compliment. I guess I’m not the mean old drunk bitch everybody says I am.”


If it’s a gay bar you’re after, the Pirates Cove is your spot. Well, it’s currently your only choice.

P.S. I’ll vote for same sex marriage if I can have the word ‘gay’ back!


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1st and Main

January 2010

So I walk into First and Main and order a whiskey…

I am greeted by a very friendly bartender and a selection of top-shelf whiskies that I would never have placed on the “top shelf.” Me personally, I consider J&B and Cutty Sark to be on the barely average shelf, at best. They do have Jameson and Maker’s Mark as well, but again, those should be the norm not the top shelf.

I opt for the Maker’s Mark, as it is the most flavorful offering they have. The pour is a generous one, and it is served in an adult-sized rocks glass with a “water back” just like I asked. Looks like we’re off to a good start here.

First and Main is located where Main Street and Central Plaza intersect near 2nd Street, so if you’re trying to find it by name alone you will not. Instead you will find a bank and an office for the University of Phoenix.

If you do find the place, you will be welcomed into a cozy little bar that does not suffer from the Pueblo tanning salon/bar syndrome that I have seen all too often around this town. Mind you, it is not as dimly or warmly lit as I like, and I don’t think there is an easy solution (like a dimmer) to fix it. You see, at First and Main most of the light is provided by the many neon beer signs hanging on the walls. I will say this: There is a cool eerie glow that emanates from the neon lights that makes you feel as if you’re in a Twilight movie.

First and Main has a pool table, albeit a rather small one. It seems to be smaller than a standard-sized bar table, but I love a good game. I grab a few quarters from my pocket and place them on the miniature billiards table. I’m looking forward to seeing if this bar’s patrons have better manners than those at that last bar I visited.

Unfortunately, it seems I won’t get the chance. The people who were on the table pack up and leave after they finish their game. So, I resort to asking my best friend/arch nemesis if he’s up for a game. Although he is victorious, he’s not feeling well and surrenders the table to me. I’m quickly challenged by one of the bar’s patrons.

After nine straight wins over various First and Main denizens, I learn something very profound: First and Main is nothing like the last place I played pool. Each of the defeated offered a handshake and congratulated me by saying “good game.”

The service at the bar was exceptional, too. The bartender would frequently come around to make sure that I was well satiated. And, she did it in a manner that was not offensive like the used-car salesmen tactics used by some bars, restaurants and Taco Bell. You know…

“Hi, welcome to Taco Bell. Can I take your order?”

“Yes, I’d like a Taco Supreme.”

“Will there be anything else?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you like something to drink with that?”

“No thanks.”

“Perhaps some cinnamon twists?”

“Can I just get a fucking Taco Supreme, please?”

If you’re looking for a bar with lousy service and a fight over a pool game, First and Main is not the place for you. As a matter of fact, if that’s what you’re looking for, stay away because I like this place and wouldn’t like you being there!

However if you’re looking for a place with friendly service and a cool vampire glow…Check it out!


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The Riverside

December 2009 Issue

So I walk in to the Riverside Bar & Grill and order a whiskey...

The selection was a fine representation of mid-level "high-end" whiskies. I figured I've been drinking enough of the rotgut whiskies so I decided to splurge and get me a Glenfiddich. The barkeep was quite generous with the pour and the price was certainly reasonable.

The Riverside is one of those stylistically challenged bars. The décor, or rather lack thereof, is like a diner meeting a bar in a dark alley. The walls are adorned with beautiful beer ad banners and the floor is covered with the finest weave carpet. I've always thought that carpeting in a bar was an incredibly bad idea. You know, with the whole spilling drinks and people vomiting thing. Doesn't make for good eradication of odors.

What the Riverside bar lacks in style it makes up for with the diverse personality of its clientele. I went there on a Sunday night, a night when they feature live jazz. The band was a very talented group of musicians playing a great mix of old time jazz favorites. The age of the audience was a mix of 40+ hep cats strutting their stuff on the four foot by eight foot space that was kind of a dance floor and some 20-something gangbangers hanging out in the back playing pool.

That's right, I said gangbangers. Interesting mix, right? Your Moms and your Pops, maybe even your Grandmas and Grandpas, all hanging out with a bunch of gangsters listening to Jazz. I was thinking, This is going be fun!

Anybody who knows the barfly knows he loves a friendly game of pool. I ain't afraid of no gangstas, neither! I mean, I used to hang out with DMX and the Ruff Ryderz. So I stepped up to the table, gave everyone there a nod, laid some quarters down and waited for the games to begin.

When my turn comes up my opponent steps up to me and says: "It's five dollars a game Homes."

Being the wise ass that I am, I reply to him: "No it's not, it's only 75 cents a game."

He answers: "No Homes... We play for money on this table."

I guess he thought that my name was Sherlock "Homes". Anyway, I accepted his challenge as I was on my second drink and my confidence level was pretty high. After my second game-and being ten bucks up-my opponent started getting a little feisty and quite obnoxious. As I was trying to shoot he would lean up the table and talk shit-extremely rude and annoying behavior. So after beating him for the third time, I tell him I'm done and head back to the bar.

I was at the bar no more than two minutes when Mr. Sore Loser Grumpy Pants gets up in my face and says: "Sup Homes? Ain't chu gonna give me a chance to win my money back?"

I replied: "If I'm not mistaken, after I beat you the first time I gave you two chances to win your money back that you didn't take advantage of."

Luckily the guys I had come to the bar with stepped in at that point and diffused the situation before it could escalate into what, most likely, would have been a fisticuffs outcome. I was then able to enjoy the rest of the evening, some good scotch and jazz, in peace.

I heard that there was recently a stabbing at the Riverside. I wonder if it was over a game of pool.


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The Sunset

November 2009 Issue

So I walk in to the Sunset and order a whiskey...

I was "Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce (I always thought that line was 'wrecked up like a douche') another runner in the night." Man seriously, I was ready to run out of the place it was so bright. But I donned my sunglasses and stuck it out for you, my valued readers.

Those of you who are first-time readers may not know this: I have a strong aversion to brightly lit interior spaces. I believe it destroys any chance of ambience or comfort. This joint was the worst yet. They were burning enough wattage to light up Invesco Field. I don't get it... I could understand if it was closing time and they were trying to clean up and prep for surgery, but this was prime bar time. Tone it down a little bit; I prefer suntans, not tungsten tans.

The whiskey selection was fairly adequate. They had stuff from swill to Macallan. I chose to go with swill and see what it tasted like. The swill was one step short of a headache but extraordinarily inexpensive and a rather good pour. I've heard that they have good food here as well but the Barfly does not eat... So maybe that 2 for $20 dude will talk about their food sometime.

As I grabbed my whiskey and started to apply sunscreen, I made my way over to the Sunset's pool table. A small bar table, but a pool table, nonetheless. My buddy, an arch-nemesis at pool and a contributor to a competitive "alternative" paper, proceeded to put some quarters into the slot, posturing and trying to lure me into his dare. While he was sinking consecutive balls, I was given the opportunity to check out my surroundings.

The Sunset is a rather huge space, filled with folding tables and chairs for your comfort and convenience. They also boast a nice outdoor patio to accommodate smoker types like myself. There are a few large screen TVs to pacify the sports fanatics.

Adorning the walls are numerous group photos that give this place a real sense of being a community bar. Apparently the Sunset has been around for quite some time. It started off as a small little bar in a renovated house. Over the years it's been expanded into a huge bar with a patio and tanning salon.

The crowd, including the bartender, all seemed nice and well behaved. I have been told by some of my friends, and I quote: "The Sunset? Man... Every time I've been down there it's a brawl waiting to happen." I myself saw none of this kind of hostility. It was a quiet Sunday night; perhaps on a crowded night, there's greater risk of a violent outbreak.

The Sunset is conveniently located next to a day care center that used to be a school. I wonder if the teachers and caregivers would and still go to "the Set" for "lunch?" Or perhaps parents will just drop the kids off at daycare and go next door to blow off a little steam.

Well, after winning the King of the Universe title at the pool table we decided to leave. The Sunset was a fine place that I would recommend. I would recommend also that you get a space suit from NASA to protect your skin from solar flares and do not look directly into the light!


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Cock and Bull

September 2009 Issue

So I walk in to the Cock and Bull and order a whiskey...

One word.


The angels start singing as I feel a sudden warmth rise up from my mid-section. I know she's only sixteen but every time I see her I can't help but be tempted by the lass. She's just so warm, delicious and satisfying! Scotchopedophile? When it comes to this little lady I gotta say "Fuck yeah, I am!"

Imagine my surprise to find one of my top three liquid lovers here in Pueblo! Can you guess what I ordered or are you plain daft? Anything else would've been like opting to make out with Rosie O'Donnell when you had a chance with Jessica Alba!

Needless to say, I order up a glass of my favorite little lady and she is generously poured into a brandy snifter. Generosity, good. Brandy snifter...grand faux pas! Talk to that "Drink Me" chick if you want to swirl your libations around in some fancy glass, but this is not the way a fine whiskey is meant to be enjoyed. Lagavulin has such an intense aroma that when it is confined inside a snifter-style glass, it could likely burn your eyes out of their sockets!

But, I was so happy to have her back in my life, I neither complained nor asked for another glass.

The Cock and Bull. Who came up with that name? You really have to have some bull-sized balls to give a bar a name that starts off with "cock!" Back in New York City a bar named like that could only be pulled off in Greenwich Village next to the Tool Bar.

Don't let the name fool you. This place is no tool bar. This place rocks! There are two floors that are different, yet have some similarities. The upstairs bar is a huge amazing piece of antique craftwork. It has a cool "U" shape that allows everyone in the crowd to feel like they're part of the party. There are a few tables of mismatched but well-chosen furniture that give it a lounge-style atmosphere.

Downstairs, the lounge atmosphere continues with a smaller, warmer type vibe. There's a tiny well-stocked bar in the corner near the stairs and, if I may say, anything that is not stocked down there the staff will happily run upstairs to get for you. Could you ask for anything else? A pool table maybe? The Cock and Bull will happily provide!

The Cock and Bull also has a back patio on both levels, which just totally rocks for a smoking kinda guy like me! They also serve food, which can be good to offset the alcohol intake.

The service at the Cock and Bull is great! Friendly and consistent. So friendly, the bartender insisted that she give my friend and myself a ride home after the bar closed. And it's not like we were really all that wasted; she was just being nice. Good thing for her I don't live in Las Vegas!

Cock and Bull ROCKS! I want to thank them for their hospitality and for helping me use the word "cock" so many times in one column!


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Occasionally Altered...

I have decided to start posting again. Gonna start with my published work from P.U.L.P..

Then we'll get on to some new stuff... Feel like writing again.



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