Drunk of the Week

I never liked CHiPs, the cop show with Erik Estrada and that dumb blond guy. As you may recall, it featured high-speed chases, spectacular motorcycle crashes, spectacular California women and Estrada's blinding smile, starring his impossibly large white teeth. Ever since the TV networks have moved on to more grisly crime fare with somber actors misusing medical terminology, there hasn't been much call for Estrada or his choppers lately. As a result, I think he's taken a job as a waiter at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.

Rock Bottom occupies a strategic spot on the 16th Street Mall where you can park your rear end on the patio and make inappropriate comments about the numerous attractive women passing by as you execute a good day drunk. With its central location, Rock Bottom also makes a fine marshalling area for acquiring a starter buzz for operations later in the evening; this is how we used the place the other night.

Day or night, Rock Bottom is one of the better starter bars. It features excellent beer brewed on site and a wide variety of greasy bar food to coat your enteric tract and provide ballast for a long bout of being overserved. And if you want to forgo the solid snacks, you can always go with the porter or stout, which are meaty enough to obviate the need for actual food.

If you want to truly enjoy the beer, though, you're going to have to ignore the many distractions. Whenever we've been to Rock Bottom, there has been a disproportionate number of good-looking people of both sexes. The waitstaff is also distracting. Most chain restaurants/bars these days feature both an annoying jingle (like the Chili's commercials with the soulful crooning about baby-back ribs) and servers who missed their calling to supplant Guy Smiley (of Sesame Street fame) as America's Favorite Game Show Host. These guys will swoop down on your table all smiles and over-enthusiastic banter, with cheesy buttons and other paraphernalia that they'd never wear in public but have to at work in order to stay gainfully employed (albeit without dignity). And just to let you know that they're your best friend ever and will fulfill your every desire -- possibly including sexual favors -- they'll squat down at the table so you don't feel inferior to someone in a ridiculous uniform towering over you. By eavesdropping on your conversation, they'll glean everybody's first names and immediately use them, even if one of you at the table happens to be the pope ("J.P.! What can I get for you tonight?"). Whatever choice you make regarding food or drink will be the most perfect decision ever made. Unfortunately, since these servers are brown-nosing several other tables at the same time, you won't get those "excellent" selections anytime soon.

At Rock Bottom, our server was either Erik Estrada or his unknown love child. While blinding us with his smile, he employed every butt-kissing tactic and boosted our self-esteem by reaffirming how super our menu choices were. I think we could have told this guy we wanted sour milk with a beer chaser and he would have said, "Of course you will. Nice!" Or "Awesome!"

But his enthusiasm did not detract from the overall experience; after all, we didn't go to Rock Bottom expecting to meet Ponch or another minor celebrity. We came to build a base so that we could carry on like idiots for the rest of the night, and we succeeded in both endeavors. Whether you're planning a night in LoDo or just catching a movie at the Denver Pavilions, Rock Bottom is a worthy stop. But just in case Erik's your waiter, remember to wear your shades and clean underwear. It's only polite when someone's going to pucker up for you all evening.

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Patrick Osborn

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