I'm an Equal Opportunity Imbiber, which means that any time friends want to get drunk and watch sports, I'm down, because sozzled sports fans are second to none when it comes to energy and enthusiasm — even if my enthusiasm is for alcohol and everyone else's for the game. The risk, of course, is that the Favorite Team loses and the whole place is suddenly surrounded by crime scene tape or starts feeling like the receiving line at a wake. Which is okay, too. It's better than drinking alone.
The only sport I find myself caring about consistently is college football, and only then because I went to a Big 10 university with a competitive program. As a student, I had season tickets — but again, mostly for the tailgating and post-game celebrations. These days, I catch the televised games whenever I can. Sometimes this means heading down to the Sports Column, which shows every game and plays the fight song over the P.A. after touchdowns. Tonight, however, my team is on national TV, so we can go anywhere. Or so we assume. After picking up a couple of $3 pre-mixed Club brand cocktails (Long Island: decent; Manhattan: too much vermouth) from our neighborhood liquor store and downing them while riding the D line downtown, Darren and I wander into the British Bulldog — a safe bet, we'd figured, both for grub and the only sporting event worth watching on a Saturday night — only to find every goddamned television tuned to the Rapids and a steady, attentive crowd. Soccer!? Fuck! is the look on our faces as we turn around to walk out. But then:
"Whoa! Heeeyyy! Fellas! Come on! Let's work this out!" It's the two bartenders, and they're making stabbing motions toward their chests with imaginary swords.
When we explain that we were hoping to watch college football, bartender John smiles while swinging his arm in follow-me circles. "No problem!" he says in a thick Massachusetts accent, "We got anudda tee-vee in da back." After he leads us up a half-flight of stairs and into an exposed upper room next to the kitchen — a space big enough for fifteen or twenty, with its own hi-def TV and sound controls — I'm so grateful, so accommodated, that I feel a little man crush coming on.
"Thanks a lot, man," I sputter.
"No problem! Now, wuddawe drinkin'?"
What we're drinking is two rounds of Swithwick's and properly poured Murphy's while happy hour (every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) prices are half off. Then we're drinking four rounds of $3 Red Stripes, followed by two rounds of $4 20-ounce Coors drafts. We're drinking a lot, John, so don't forget about us up here.
He doesn't. For three hours, as we eat and drink and scream and cheer so emphatically that the remaining, exceptionally sullen Rapids fans down in the main room can't help but feel jealous, John fully supports the spectacle we're making of ourselves, even joining in on occasion while passing back and forth from the kitchen.
Owned since summer 2008 by Little Pub Company — the local conglomerate responsible for fourteen other neighborhood joints around town — the British Bulldog is from front door to back alley a warm, wood-toned pub with a diverse American/British/Pakistani fusion menu, an impressive draft-beer selection, a small-yet-ample front patio and an affinity for (or obsession with) the English Premier League, among all things soccer. (When there are important soccer matches across the pond, the Bulldog opens at 7 a.m. and offers happy hour until 11 a.m.) From where I'm sitting — and standing and cheering and screaming — it's also proof of Little Pub's commitment to the local landscape, to staffing its ever-growing family of friendly spots with good people, good food and good prices.
So, wuddawe drinkin'?