Jim Beam and Coke

While enjoying an economical Jim Beam and Coke ($2 all day, every day) at the Stadium Inn, my friend Terri told me that she'd enjoyed her first legal cocktail at that very bar in 1975, as she celebrated her 21st birthday. But the Stadium was around long before that. In the late '40s, it was one of the first bars in Denver to end the practice of segregation, "choosing Old Crow over Jim Crow," according to the University of Denver Magazine. And it's lasted a lot longer than the football team whose playing field its name commemorates; DU gave up that sport in the early '60s. For a while, the Stadium was a biker bar, but after it got new owners in 1977, it started drawing in students again. Today the Stadium caters to college kids after 10 p.m. and a wide assortment of characters during the day (it opens at 9 a.m.). During my visit early one evening, I met kooky, "I'm an enigma wrapped in a mystery smothered in secret sauce" Mark, who told me many stories that could land him in jail if I were to retell them here -- and they happened to be true. The stories were so good that I had to show him my driver's license before he would give me his name, since he thought I might be a cop. (Our driver's licenses got a real workout at the Stadium, which cards everyone -- even 53-year-old Terri. Yahoo!) Then there was Mark's tie-dye-shirt-and-do-rag-wearing friend, who was able to drink during the day because he was on disability for his bad hips (I'm assuming the marijuana he went out to smoke was medicinal), and Jason, who said he didn't have to work because he was a multi-millionaire (where's your yacht, the barflies wanted to know). But my favorite was Rich the bartender, who told one of the fellas "Not right now" when he asked for another Jim Beam and Coke. "I like to pace my customers," Rich explained. I wish I'd had a bartender like that when I was growing up.