Drinking whisky is a risky business at Pints Pub

Cinderblock sober and with a few moments to mull, I could probably sound intelligent on the subject of whiskey — on the differences between bourbon, scotch, single-malt, straight, blended, Kentucky, Tennessee, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, etc., as well as why it's sometimes spelled with an 'e' and other times not. My aptitude in this area has nothing to do with affinity; I simply don't like the stuff. Not as a snifter or a shot, not neat or on the rocks. Sometimes mixed with ginger ale, less so in an Old Fashioned. But mostly, I avoid it.

Which is unfortunate, since I'm posted up for a long night of imbibing in the bar area of Pints Pub, a most reputable joint boasting the largest selection of single-malt whisky outside of Great Britain and more than 250 whiskys in total. As a tequila connoisseur (read: snob), I certainly appreciate the rich history and craft, and it's fun like a trip to a Scottish museum to see all the bottles upturned and hanging above the bar, ready to pour. Still, I can't bring myself to order any, especially when sips start at $6.

So I turn my attention to the Pub's eleven home brews, two of which — the Dark Star Ale and Lancer India Pale Ale — are cask-conditioned (or "live"), which means they undergo a secondary fermentation. It also means they're hand-pumped, contain less carbonation and are served at cellar temperature, a balmy 50 degrees. After one of each, I move to the rest of the lineup, preferring the Phone Box Amber, Gael Force, Black Ajax and John Bull Nut Brown to the Bitchcraft, Airedale or Idleweiss Wheat. The Czechmate Pilsner, the closest pour to the poor man's Bud, acts as a palate cleanser between tastier draws, but the truth is that my friends and I emerge from our tour just plain drunk from the elevated alcohol content.

Along the way, and in a better-late-than-never attempt to not fall off my high-top chair, I turn my attention to the menu and realize I like Pints Pub not just for its deep, eclectic offering of sauce, but also for its attitude. It is alternately bitchy (one tab per table and a limit of two credit cards, split evenly), friendly (subbing a green salad for chips or adding sautéed red onions for free) and funny (a caveat below the burgers section reads, "Ordering your wimpy 'well done' not only negates the quality of our beef, but involves extended cooking time. Please refrain"). I also observe (and later joke with) the bartender on duty grousing about patrons who ask if he knows where the bathroom is. "Uh, no," he mock-responds to another employee once a customer's out of earshot, "but I'll be sure to let you know if I find out."

I eventually discover (on my own) that the loo is located up the grand staircase facing the front door. Once there, I lean my head on my forearm against the wall and realize I probably could not — not for all the John Bull Nut Brown Ale in the Pints Pub brewery — sound intelligent on the subject of whiskey right now.

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Drew Bixby

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