Lancer Lounge

Before Colorado's no-smoking law took effect, I would venture into one of Denver's classic dive bars knowing full well that after a few hours there, I'd have to go home and disrobe on my back porch so that the stench of stale cigarette smoke wouldn't seep into the smoke-free sanctuary of my house. Since July 1, 2006, that thrill is gone — for both me and my neighbors. But it wasn't until last month that I took my first foray into the smoke-free Lancer Lounge, which I thought would look naked without a gray haze. In truth, the transformation was somewhat uneventful. The Lancer is still an unadulterated, if now untainted, dive, a great place to sit at the bar and watch football with true football fans, as long as you don't care about watching football on a puny TV. What the Lancer lacks in electronics, though, it more than makes up for with large shots. My favorite was the enormous (no kidding — anywhere else, this would have been called a drink with no ice) Happy Fun ($4), a Hawaiian Punch-like concoction made with Malibu rum, Stoli Vanil, cranberry, pineapple and a secret ingredient. After consuming more than one of these, you couldn't help but live up to the cocktail's name. Which could explain how one drunk guy kept from falling down even though he missed almost every surface he tried to sit on. Or how the regulars could keep retelling the classic Lancer story about the extremely large woman who got stuck in the toilet. And how happy fun was this: The morning after my night at the Lancer, I woke up to find my clothes on the floor next to my bed, where they belong.

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Nancy Levine
Contact: Nancy Levine