Fireside Lounge, Bowlero Lanes,
5480 West Alameda Avenue,
After my friends and I grabbed two open spots at Bowlero Lanes one Saturday night and strapped on our snazzy rental shoes, we placed a friendly little wager: The losing team must buy the next round. And even with a 49-point spread to make up for my ball-handling deficiencies, my team quickly lost. I suck at bowling, but I'm a champ at drinking. And ambling into Bowlero's dark, vinyl-covered Fireside Lounge, I knew I'd found the perfect place to forget my last gutter ball. I asked our friendly barkeep for some liquid courage, and she promptly produced a tray of Midori Kamikaze shots ($2.75), made with Midori, vodka, Triple Sec and sweet-and-sour mix -- served in plastic cups, of course. After downing this strong, bright-green concoction, I was on fire -- and immediately bowled a spare and a strike to reached my highest score ever: an 88. Although not much has changed at this family-friendly Lakewood bowling alley since it opened in the '50s, Bowlero is now undergoing major renovations. So I'm making an urgent plea: Leave the cozy Fireside alone. Denver needs bars like this -- dark, smoky dens where cheap cocktails and goodhearted ribbing make a night roll as smoothly as my bright-blue ball heading straight for the pins (or at least in that general direction).