Sometimes you just need to get out -- as I did after being cut off on Colorado Boulevard by one of those punk kids who thinks it's cool to push his seat back so far that he can't even see over the steering wheel. And not just get out, but get way out, heading east on Colfax Avenue well beyond the margins of the current revitalization.
When we pulled up to the Hangar Bar (8001 East Colfax Avenue), I was a little concerned by our surroundings. The Hangar has been around for over sixty years, and in the past it catered to Air Force brethren who were preparing for their next deployment around the globe by drinking as much as possible on a regular basis. Trust me, this is the only way to prepare for a prolonged deployment, when you may not see a beer for weeks. And the preparation pays off when, on your way home, you lay over in a garden spot that features great beer. Otherwise, the shock to your system could be fatal -- especially when you have to cross the Atlantic in the back of a cold, noisy cargo jet.
But all of this did not go through my mind when I first saw the Hangar. Instead, I was reminded of that scene in Animal House when Otter and the boys pull up to the Dexter Lakes Club to catch Otis Day and the Knights. "We are going to die," Eric Stratton pronounces as they walk in. Although we didn't sense outright danger, the Hangar certainly didn't resemble one of the Institute of Drinking Studies' usual laboratories. But in the interest of science, the Redneck Liaison, his saintly wife and I grabbed a seat near the back booth and waited for the rest of our party.
8001 East Colfax Avenue
The booth held a single gentleman sipping his beer and watching the big screen. As our numbers swelled, he asked us if we would like the booth and graciously surrendered his seat. Such behavior is rare; at most bars, people camp out for hours in prime seats, claiming that their friends will be arriving any minute. As a reward, we invited the gentleman back for a drink of his choosing. The staff -- a single bartender named Eric -- also went above and beyond in catering to a dozen morons. Although he was very strict about ID-ing people and only let the Scottish Representative drink because "he looks like he's eighty," we never lacked for beer, and Eric even brought us Jell-O shots at the end of the night to thank us for dropping by. In the meantime, he turned down the jukebox so we could hear the game and kept us well stocked with popcorn, chips and salsa (although I'd recommend that a place with a casual vibe like the Hangar also offer peanuts).
As we settled in and got comfortable, I forgot all about Animal House and was instead reminded of hanging out on my grandfather's back porch, where we'd set our drinks on the giant wooden cable spool that served as a table. And just as at my grandfather's, it was only a matter of time before our group was lubricated enough to hold forth on inappropriate subjects. Our topic this night was marital infidelity. The Texan's wife talked about who she'd like to sleep with first from her well-planned list of men (Tom Brady). I asked the Texan if he had a similar list, but he declined to answer -- so I decided to egg him on by asking his wife if she would actually sleep with someone on her list. "Oh, [very bad word], yeah!" she replied, and the gloves came off. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the night, I'd been added to her list just to spite her husband.
Hurry to the Hangar before improvements reach this part of Colfax and the bar is flooded with people who think they're cooler than they really are. You might even make the Texan's wife's list.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.