I've always thought of Hamburger Mary's as a place for burgers rather than beers. This is partially because I'm a breeder (and a married one at that), and Mary's is a gay bar with a packed calendar of drag-show and Cycle Sluts Bingo entertainment. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I'm as much of a fan of beards in ballroom gowns as the next straight guy sick of the same ol', same ol'. But mostly, I haven't gotten my drink on at Mary's because I've always had the impression — thanks to burgers that begin at $10 and better beers that start at $4 — that it's one of the more expensive joints in Uptown.
When I stop in on a Wednesday, however, I am proved pleasantly wrong by both happy-hour and late-night prices. From 4 to 7 p.m., Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA drafts (of which I pound four in an hour) are a buck, wells are two and calls are $3. After 7 p.m., Long Islands ring in at $3 and Land Shark drafts (tally me for four of those as well) drop from $4 to $2. Add to all that the triumph of all triumphs: a free margarita with proof that I voted for Mary's in the A-List Cheap Eats category, which I do on my phone.
I spend all of this Mary's stay on the spacious back patio, by far one of Denver's best — complete with huge, adjustable-angle canopy umbrellas; a massive, impressively stocked bar (holy flavored vodkas!); and misting machines to combat the scorching sun. Were it not for a couple of rainbow-colored Pride banners, the gold-painted columns supporting the roof over the bar and paintings of Greek figures with their privates covered up by paper lips that say "BLUSH," I'd have no idea I was in a gay bar — though I guess the constant stream of random techno videos playing on the flat-screens and being pumped through the PA is a bit of a giveaway. But everyone has pants on, which is more than I can say for the crowd at Charlie's Denver.
700 East 17th Avenue
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For the first hour or so, my friends and I focus on dollar beers, appetizers and sandwiches, all of which arrive in record time and merit every second spent voting on the A-List. Once alone with our stuffed bellies and late-night drinks, we fixate on the deluge of random dance madness being displayed on the TVs. On the more normal side, I'm talking about the Chemical Brothers, early-'80s Cher and Kelly Clarkson; in terms of what-the-fuckness, I don't even have words to describe Dannii Minogue, the "Maurice's Jumpin' Retro" remix of Destiny's Child or Passion Fruit's "Rigga-Ding-Dong-Song," except to say wow. Only after a solid thirty minutes of laughing hysterically and talking shit does it occur to me that we could be a one-decade-removed episode of Beavis and Butt-Head.
Beavis: "They should have a name for this kind of music."
Butt-Head: "They already do, Beavis: crap."