By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
I am happy to announce that a new bar, The Tavern Lowry (7401 East First Avenue), has broken the record for the largest-ever Institute of Drinking Studies bar tab -- and this despite the conspicuous absence of a few members.
The Tavern had been open only a few days when I noticed it nestled in the Albertsons parking lot next to a retirement home. It looked like a very nice place "that needed to be taken down a notch or two," I told the Redneck Liaison. He promptly announced that he was "in" (as though he's ever opted "out" of one of these missions). We arrived in the middle of a very busy happy hour and ordered up Maker's and Crown from the bar. Through the generalized seizure inspired by my first taste, I noticed that the drink was amazingly strong. (This did not change through the night; in fact, I think the bartender just made them stronger and stronger.) To get out of the crowd, we grabbed a couple of seats on the outdoor patio, which has to be one of the nicest patios in town. It's fashioned after a Japanese rock garden and boasts a lot of water features that quickly made me want to pee. But I decided to wait; the Redneck felt that the rocks in the back corner would be a perfect spot "as soon as it gets dark."
We were joined sometime later -- asked how long we'd been there, the Redneck and I guessed "maybe four drinks" -- by other members of the Institute and proceeded to order dinner. The menu here is similar to that of the Tavern Uptown, the big brother of this Lowry version, which meant that we once again found ourselves pondering the difference between a calzone and a stromboli. Being simple folk, we said the hell with it and went with the very good pizza.
Our next question: Should we continue with drinks, or transition to beer at some point? As we were heading off on vacation the next day, we still needed to do our packing, repacking and requisite fighting with wives over their taking too much crap, and we didn't want to be totally incapacitated for this important ritual. The Redneck voted for a switch to beer, and the Texan agreed, so we knew it had to be a good idea. We were confident that after only a moderate number of whiskey drinks (six) and three or so beers -- apiece -- we'd be able to jump out of bed the next morning, click our heels and make inflammatory comments about how overpacking is a major personality flaw and a common cause of divorce.
Like many of the best-laid plans, this scheme failed when the Latin Representative rejoined the fold after a long absence from Institute functions. I've tried to warn the general public and get federal legislation passed to educate kids about the dangers of the second wind, but it continues to blow up. Before we knew it, the Latin Rep was playing drink catch-up, and we just had to help him along. Soon beer became too filling, and we returned to whiskey. Our waitress, whom we'd dubbed "Eight Ball" for her frenetic manner of service, tried to slow us down by extending the interval between rounds to almost ten minutes -- despite the Latin Rep shouting "Empty!" every time his glass got below a quarter tank.
Finally, before she could cut us off, we decided we were done. Then came the record-setting tab. As we surveyed the damage, I was relieved to see that the Redneck and I had tied in drink count -- otherwise, we might have gone right back to imbibing in order to equalize our consumption. As it is, we got out of there with our pleasant memories of the Tavern Lowry still intact. It serves good food and strong drinks, and in a pinch, it's a walker (with a quick pit stop at the Texan's house for another pick-me-up). But for this nice patio to become perfect, the Tavern needs to install an outside bar. I'm sure our tab was large enough to finance this improvement.