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Leave it to the Institute of Drinking Studies to host one of the biggest events in a very young man's life in the oldest saloon in Denver: My Brother's Bar (2376 15th Street). We here at the Institute feel that it is important to demystify drinking by showing our progeny how to do it responsibly. I firmly believe that had alcohol not been constantly vilified in my home when I was growing up, I wouldn't have had the uncontrollable urge to get out and try the verboten stuff as often as possible. And as more and more members of the Institute procreate, we find ourselves seeking out establishments that are at least remotely suitable for family outings.
My Brother's Bar ranks high on that list. It's minimally smoky, and not at all in the dining area. Classical music floats through the air, keeping adults in check (guys are much more likely to say or do something stupid and think it's cool if the soundtrack includes Guns N' Roses) and expanding the minds of youngsters -- and even children in utero, if you believe crazies like Dr. Phil and the Scientologists (is that the name of a barbershop quartet?) who say that talking at a gravid belly leads to higher IQs rather than painfully needy kids. Safety is big at My Brother's, too. On the way to the bathrooms, there's a small step that is labeled "Step," so it's obviously your own fault when you trip over it and fall face-first.
Those pristine bathrooms play an important role in this story. My daughter took her little brother to the restroom, then emerged no more than half an hour later and announced to the entire bar that, for the first time without home-field advantage, David had peed in the toilet. At this news, our sprawling table offered our young protegé a reception worthy of Caesar. Adult guys are always inspired by someone who doesn't pee on the seat or just right on the floor, and we celebrated with another round of beers.
Which are exceedingly good at My Brother's, and served by a friendly, accommodating staff. When we arrived, the place was very busy, but the Professor Emeritus for Stereotypical Wisconsin Natives managed to get us quickly seated at a large table for twelve (we eventually packed almost twenty people into this space), and a waitress promptly asked for our beer orders. The Professor initially wanted to go with a Pilsner Urquell, but opted instead for a Warsteiner because it comes in a brown rather than green bottle. Like your first pee in a bar, getting violently ill from something in a green bottle is part of the guy-maturation process. We didn't refer to Heileman's Special Export as "Green Death" for nothing: Being overserved on these babies almost always resulted in death-dealing hangovers, major social consequences in homeroom the next Monday, and up to 24 hours of prolific green "output," if you catch our drift.
I went with one of the many tap beers, Fuller's, an excellent English brew. It was a huge hit with our group, even those members who'd previously been sighted drinking Greyhounds or even Bud Light. And it perfectly complemented both my bites of the kids' corn dogs and the Ralphie buffalo burger. We relished the anti-hippie sentiment expressed by roasting the mascot of the state's largest public university. Our waitress said that not many CU fans order the Ralphie, but what can you expect from people "who substitute patchouli for bathing?"
My Brother's makes for a great night out with your friends and other people who probably shouldn't be entrusted with the care of a hamster, much less a child. Everybody gets what they want. The kids get good food, Shirley Temples with enough sugar in them to kill an adult, and a balloon that will no doubt be popped at some point during the evening as part of a joke. The women get a safe environment and clean bathrooms. Guys get good food and beer -- as long as they remember to stay away from green bottles.