TINGK! The traditional metal bar bell's sound is unmistakable. Even in a crowded spot with punk-rock jukebox blaring, the clang of the clapper, long rope tied beneath it, crashing a solo shot somewhere between the bell's mouth and the sound ring — everyone hears it.
But that's the point.
Most bars with bells use them to draw attention to a good tip. The Streets of London Pub is no different, except that the bartendresses have enough sass to retaliate on shitty tips. "When we get a bad one," tonight's slinger tells me, "like $1 on four drinks, we go like..." PUTUNG. That's the sound of the clapper, swung lethargically by one hand, thudding into the bell held by the other hand.
The Streets of London Pub
The Streets of London Pub
1501 East Colfax Avenue
I joke that if she loves the bell but doesn't have enough opportunities to ring it, she could challenge regulars to stump her on sleazy pick-up lines. Anything more clever than corny earns a TINGK! "Your body is a wonderland and I want to be Alice" gets a PUTUNG. She laughs, says she likes the idea. Though I swear I hear one last PUTUNG on my way out to the patio.
The side patio (the one facing Humboldt), which is spacious and extremely accommodating to smokers but lacks the views and variety of the closed-for-painting front patio facing Colfax. Or so we assume. Not three drags into my first square, a guy wearing a black poncho and a backpack stumbles up next to our table and slumps himself over the wrought-iron railing. He spins a so-bad-it's-good story about how he just got into a car accident; his wife and kid were in the car, and they were rushed to the hospital, and he needs money to meet them there. Never mind that the holes in this story (and his slur) could sink a Disney-themed cruise liner: One buddy gives him five bucks for the colorful yarn and tells him as much.
It's Wednesday, so we're knocking back enough $5 Happy Meals for a record-breaking blackout. At Streets, where this special isn't actually called a Happy Meal, the deal is a can of beer (PBR, Schlitz or Olympia) and a shot (Beam or Jager) for five bucks. Mostly we just pound ice-cold cans for three hours, but every fourth round or so, whoever's fetching brings back the whole meal. A mixed blessing, for sure, because I fucking hate Mean Beam. Oof.
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Being at Streets, bullshitting with transients, smoking on patios — it all makes me wicked nostalgic for my days living a block off Colfax. I remember always telling my (now) wife that it's the safest street to walk in all of Denver. "You won't necessarily be left alone," I'd say, "but you'll be fine." I still believe this. I have the utmost confidence that any of the gutter punks, rockabilly chicks or scooter tramps who have adopted Streets as their second home would step into anything even resembling a sketchy situation in order to keep the block safe. Same goes for the rest of the stretch between Broadway and Colorado.
Maybe that'd be another reason to ring the bell. Anytime a patron came in and told the bartendress something nice they did for someone else on Colfax that day, she'd send the clapper rope swinging.
I'd drink to that.