Back in February, trudging drunkenly down the middle of High Street in near-whiteout blizzard conditions, Darren and I decided that if the just-opened Jezebel's could hold on through the winter in its outskirts-of-town location, we'd have found our summer spot, our walking-distance watering hole — the Holy Grail for Cole (me) and Whittier (Darren) dwellers alike. Tonight, as we round the corner from 38th Avenue, cans of Schlitz in hand, we're relieved to see folks milling around the entrance to the 120-year-old former home of Marco's Place and the High Street Speakeasy. Better, we find the place jumpin' to the sounds of an instrumental jazz band, three well-behaved hounds trotting around with their tails wagging along.
A healthy crowd, however, isn't all we find: Thanks to a couple of the mutts barking at the end of a hallway, I stumble upon an entire room I'd somehow missed the first time, with seating and two pool tables. The weather now mild enough for hoodies instead of coats, I also discover an incredible back patio — part concrete foundation with white resin furniture, part tent-covered tables and grills, and part fenced-in yard, large enough for a serious beanbag toss or horseshoes tournament (hint, hint). I'm smoking in the grass, petting the Husky-looking pup that followed me out, and marveling at the two cars/one boat currently occupying precious space, when the drummer of the band, now on break, hits me up for a smoke.
"It's menthol," I warn, my standard I-don't-mind-but-you-should-know line.
"That's cool," he responds. "I don't usually smoke. Probably gonna make me real dizzy."
"Good thing you get to sit on a stool, then," I joke, "though that's no guarantee you won't fall over."
Ten minutes later, as the lead-in to the encore set, Dizzy launches into a five-minute drum solo. And while he doesn't fall over, exactly, his chops sound woozy.
Which is exactly how I feel, two Budweiser pitchers into a three-hour stay, when I decide to order an Old Fashioned from the specialty drink menu. Having cut my teeth on Old Fashioneds in Wisconsin supper clubs — all of which muddle fruit at the bottom and dissolve an actual lump of sugar (instead of cheating with simple syrup) — I'm prepared to be disappointed. After watching the bartender squint at the ingredient list during the whole mixing process, I'm doubly expectant. But it turns out okay. Ish.
Still, we switch back to Bud, now just $2/pint thanks to a late-night happy hour. We also order bean-and-cheese burritos, the only available grub, which arrive microwaved with a side of Doritos on a Baker's Secret non-stick pie pan because the joint's out of plates. Mid-mouthfuls, Darren and I agree to disagree about Jezebel's ambience. I don't mind the ghost-lore; in fact, were the bartender available to take us on a tour of the supposedly haunted second story, I'd happily sign the waiver — the one requiring me to acknowledge that "I am aware that these activities are hazardous activities and that I could be seriously injured or even killed." Sounds awesome, minus the dying part. I just wish the main floor were a little less cut off from the outside world, that a few of the windows were without the noise- and light-canceling coverings. Darren thinks it feels warm and loves the high, pressed-tin ceilings, the exposed brick and wood paneling. It's irrelevant, this argument about the atmosphere:
We're both just happy to have found our summer spot.