For a week this past June, comedian Zane Lamprey and the crew that helps him create the show Drinking Made Easy got paid to do what many of us have been paying to do for years: drink up and down the Front Range. And tomorrow night the best parts of that week will air on HDNet at 6:30 p.m. MST.
"The goal is to try to showcase Denver, as well as try to find some places that maybe people who live there don't even know about," explains Lamprey. As you might expect, his tour of Colorado was rather beer-heavy.
The show made stops at New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Woodcellar Bar and Grill in Evergreen and Wynkoop Brewing Co., as well as Govnr's Park and the and Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant in LoDo.
Lamprey was too smart to provide an answer to his favorite bar on that list -- but he had no problem coming up with his favorite drinks.
"I love the beer up there," he says. "The beer in Colorado is pretty amazing. It was great to go to Avery and have free rein to try anything I wanted, and the same thing at New Belgium. It's beer, but it's also the lifestyle that goes along with it. It's Colorado cool."
Lamprey friend Steve McKenna typically takes on an eating challenge for each episode. And for this show, he went with another Mile High staple.
"We knew the challenge was going to be the Rocky Mountain oysters," says Lamprey. "When I was down there, I talked to the owner and said, 'How can we turn this up a little more and make it more compelling? Is there a way we can do these raw?'"
Fortunately, Woodcellar's food rep was at the bar when Lamprey called. He verified that uncooked bull's balls were safe to eat -- and the challenge was on.
"With the raw Rocky Mountain oysters, it was more like a punishment than an actual challenge that people would do," says Lamprey. "It was pretty bad, but because it was so bad, we all knew while we were doing it that it would make for great television."
Another aspect of the Colorado trip that made for great television was the crowd. "We've done a lot of shows and I don't know if we've had an audience that was as enthusiastic as the Denver audience," says Lamprey. "It's not just that we were enthusiastic, but they were respectful. They weren't respectful to the point that they were sitting there with their hands folded and being quiet. They were having a good time. Some places people were yelling things out and being obnoxious, and in Denver we didn't have that."
Lamprey also does a stand-up comedy routine in each city; his Denver act required three attempts. A Friday night and early Saturday night set were each derailed when the Ogden Theatre's transformer blew and power was lost. But when the show finally went on late Saturday night, it went so well that it will be the subject of an hour-long comedy special that will air on HDNet sometime this summer.
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Among the drinks that will be featured on the show are Woodcellar's Rocky Mountain Martini, made with local, bacon-infused vodka, and Govnr's Park's "The Cheeseman" fishbowl, a concoction made differently by each bartender. Both of these establishments will hold watch parties tomorrow.
Govnr's Park's party will start at 5 p.m. and go until 8 p.m.; Woodcellar's will start at 5 p.m. and last until midnight.
Lamprey had one last compliment (that's how we're taking it, at least) for the people of Denver: "I think that because of the long winters, people are pretty good at drinking."