In the neighborhood: The Fainting Goat
The space at 846 Broadway has long been the go-to bar for all our needs around the office. It's been the Parlour, the Minturn Saloon and Moon Time in the years that I've been here --everything from a kinda weird, quasi-classy bolt-hole with a serious kitchen to a mountain transplant with a weekly roasted quail special to a Widespread Panic fan bar that would annoy the crap out of me every few days or so when I would step into an empty bar early in the afternoon and go up to the rooftop patio with three beers, a pack of smokes and a deadline, then come back down two hours later to find the place full of hippies getting freaky to the caterwauling strains of Hatfield or Porch Song and blocking my route to the door.
Still, proximity is worth a lot in a work bar, and on a really bad day almost any transgression can be forgiven so long as a place can be gotten to quickly and pours a decent cocktail. The only real worry is when the work bar closes -- something we at the 'Word have had to bite our nails over several times over the past few years. At that point, you begin speculating how long it's going to be before some other sucker can be tempted into the address, how much it might cost to just buy the thing yourself and how long you can keep hiding those bottles of John Powers Irish in your desk before someone starts to notice.
Lucky for us, it was not very long at all between the closure of Moon Time and the grand opening of the Fainting Goat, the newest ride on the 846 Broadway merry-go-round. And I could not be more pleased with my new neighbor.
For one thing, the tenders behind the long oak can spot a crowd badly in need of brain tonic like nobody's business, and work with the dogged determination of ER nurses to triage the worst cases and deliver everyone's medicine in a timely fashion. They have a wicked happy hour (two-for-one's out of the well and off the taps for a couple hours every evening), a freaky menu that's like what an unfortunate traveler might find at an American theme bar in Dublin (as opposed to an Irish theme bar in America, which I discuss at length here) --Irish nachos that are really thick potato chips topped with corned beef and cheese, Guinness stew, burgers and pretty decent chicken wings served by the pound -- and a crowd that, on most nights, can be most generously described as "eclectic."
On my last turn through, the joint was filled with mourning journalists and writers drinking away their sorrows over the state of the industry, neighborhood drunks, a crowd of dead-eyed local government underlings taking shots like they were punching themselves in the face and a gap-toothed and cackling older woman who kept catching me outside smoking, mumbling inane jokes about the weather and toddling off like she was late for her audition as the bad witch in a Disney movie.
I'm a-gonna marry me that woman someday.
One last thing: For the serious drinkers in the crowd, this bar serves one of the most under-appreciated crap brands of well whiskey out there: Wall Street. This stuff is...indescribable, really. The first taste is like taking a sip of paint stripper and liquid smoke. The second is vaguely reminiscent of that first time you ever snuck a pull from the pretty brown bottle in your parent's liquor cabinet -- a kind of old-fashioned Canadian Club sort of flavor mixed with equal parts revulsion and taboo thrill. And after that? Well, after that you're just in it, buddy. The taste smooths out quickly after all the nerves in your mouth die and the vapors start fucking with your thought-box.
I put down four or five long pours on ice on the day Westword laid off three edit staffers, and now I barely remember what happened that morning, let alone how bad things got by the time I ended up at the bar. Granted, I woke up with one of the worst hangovers of my life, brain-wise -- unable to form simple sentences or see more than a couple feet in front of me -- but the Wall Street certainly cured what ailed me. The stuff is like an ether and sodium pentathol cocktail, dimwit bliss and forgetfulness all in one bottle, better than washing down a Codeine tablet with half a bottle of Mad Dog any day, but with roughly the same effect.
My only fear is that, as with previous tenants at this address, the Fainting Goat, too, will go dark one day with no warning and no explanation. Fortunately, owner Mark Holland has a cash cow with his other bar, Hopper's Sports Grill in Wheat Ridge -- a massive sports bar that (if it's anything like every other sports bar in this city) ought to be able to float a little operation like the Goat for a good long time.