Lansdowne Arms Bistro and Bar

This week's lesson is ethics, which are very important if human society is to progress. Without ethics, you end up with such horrors as insider trading, Enron, the United Nations and Ralph Nacchio. Luckily, most people are ethical; the problem is that ethical behavior is often in the eye of the beholder. Although there are some ethical absolutes -- like don't steal or murder or tip over someone's beer without replacing it -- most situations require a more flexible interpretation of the rules. For example, if your buddy is too engrossed in conversation to keep an eye on his glass, it's okay for you to down at least half of his beer while you wait for a replacement; the real ethical question is whether you tell him.

The Institute of Drinking Studies demands the highest ethical standards of all of its members while still espousing an outlook that encourages innovation and fluid thinking. We demonstrated this when a large contingent of us congregated at the Lansdowne Arms Bistro and Bar (9352 Dorchester Street, Highlands Ranch) to mark a major religious holiday: my birthday. It was a beautiful Saturday, and none of us had any pressing commitments, so our alcohol intake was quite substantial from the get-go. Within five minutes of arriving, the Texan and I were at the bar sharing a shot of Jameson with the Mormon Representative. I also slammed my first beer during this period, because it's been proven time and again that Jameson sitting solo in my belly spells disaster for floors and countertops everywhere.

After this promising start, I retired to our table, hoping to reduce any sloshing of gastric contents that might result in a terminal case of hiccups. I parked it next to the Mormon's wife and noted that she had a mysterious tally sheet in front of her labeled "Ins and Outs." I was quickly informed that this was perhaps the greatest accounting system devised by man: An "In" was any alcoholic beverage imbibed, while an "Out" was any trip to the restroom lasting more than thirty seconds. While ingenious and capable of providing hours of fun, this system has a few loopholes that the unethical could exploit. Some people tend to develop delusions of grandeur once a buzz sets in, and the "Ins" could increase logarithmically as a result. And since "Outs" could be seen as a commentary on the manliness of certain members of a group, they might try to reduce the number in this column so as not to be accused of having the medical condition known as "chick bladder."

But even without an independent observer, we stuck to a fair count, with everyone owning up to their shortcomings -- even the Mormon, who may have the world's smallest bladder. And without any major ethical dilemmas to sort through, we were able to focus on the bar itself. It opens up really well, and anywhere you are can seem like a patio -- which was fortunate, because the upstairs patio was so packed we never had a chance there. But that was all right, because once dessert arrived -- the second annual installment of anatomically correct cakes from Lé Bakery Sensual -- we needed privacy to truly enjoy ourselves. The boob cake was excellent, and the male and female cupcakes nearly incited a riot as they made their way around our table full of perverts.

After nearly eleven hours of grueling physical exertion, my wife and I had to leave. Since the bill had yet to arrive -- it would turn out to set a new record for the biggest Institute bar tab -- we pulled the waiter aside to make sure he got a decent tip. And this is where he failed the ethics course: He neglected to tell us or anyone else that he was already adding the tip to the bill since our party was so big. It's bad enough when bars do this, but to then take the extra cash without revealing that the tip would be tacked on to the tab should be punishable in federal court. Or the "Outs" column.

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Patrick Osborn