By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
A warning, via whiteboard, from the staff at the Viking (4888 West Colfax Avenue):
YOU NEED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE WHEN:
• You run your big fucking mouth because the bar is out of something
• You call the bartender dirty names in another language, unaware she can translate
• You annoy the other bar customers with your excessive, repetitive, persistent-fucking ear-piercing chatter
• You imply you are the sole provider of this bar's income
• You blame the bartender for loosing your shit
• You declare your personal issues take priority when we all feel life sucks
• You fight and get pissed off at the bartender for stopping you
WE ARE ALL HERE TO DRINK LET'S TRY TO GET ALONG
Formerly the Tap Inn (Diamond, the bartendress, drank here twenty-odd years ago when it was a 3.2 joint), the cash-only Viking may seem a bit harsh, but it's not heartless: Winners of the customer-of-the-week drawing every Sunday snag a free drink every day for a week. During Broncos games, touchdown shots are on the house. And you can grab a homemade burrito from the Crock-Pot for just a few bucks.
The current color scheme — purple and orange — is consistent down to the bar stools and the walls in the bathroom (no mirror, no paper towels). Knickknacks, stuffed animals and other crap hold up the wall behind the bar, alongside white wire racks/shelves of chips and snacks; two frozen-pizza ovens heat up the only other fare available. Beneath a lighted hologram Budweiser sign featuring a wooden duck, shell casings, binoculars, a duck caller and a camouflage hat sits a man selling plastic-wrapped red roses out of a white bucket while scratching lottery tickets.
Part biker bar, part West Colfax roughneck hangout, the Viking will serve anyone who can keep his or her shit together. While I'm smoking on the side patio — which has planter boxes on the railings, a covered tent in the winter and a grill for summer BBQs — one of the owners swings the door open and, without looking, hawks a loogie right at me. It lands within a pre-pubescent facial hair of my rubber-toed sneaker. "My bad, bro!" he offers, though I can't tell if he means it. During another break, a paunchy Latina gal with poor balance tells me she had to stay away for a while because she got mixed up in some harder shit. "You're feeling better now, though?" I ask. She, too, spits (though not at me), flicks her butt in the opposite direction of the sand bucket, then screams:
"It's good to be back, baby!"