With the company Christmas party winding down, I needed to suggest an afterparty spot that 30 people could agree upon, stat. I could only think of one place, but the common thread was something everyone holds dear: monkeys.
The Crazy Ape was our destination, and I’ll be an Ebenezer if every one of my faithful co-workers didn’t show up expecting a good time.
A group of regulars was huddled around one end of the bar, but my gaggle was treated as locals by the inviting bar staff as soon as we walked in. We quickly gravitated towards one of the most intriguing features of the bar, a dollar-operated punching bag that soon became a gauge of who was an ape and who was a chimp. Paired with a bean bag toss in a lowered galley, the punching bag was our first clue that The Crazy Ape is not your typical stool, pool, and dartboard joint, although those were included in the sizeable game room on the other side of the bar.
We’d luckily walked into karaoke night, held every Monday and Friday, and before I knew it the party had begun. The Ape appeals to a wide variety of tastes, as displayed by country crooning one moment followed by Styx’s “Come Sail Away” the next. The South Park version. With Cartman on lead. This bar didn’t discriminate between the classics and a pop culture reference. Shortly after, the bartender was belting out her rendition of “Killing Me Softly,” and it became apparent that this was a place to be one’s self.
Several wraparound booths were occupied by groups of friends wanting to enjoy a more private moment at the Ape, while the sprawling layout offered several nooks to get away for one-on-one time if the situation called for it.
The house special, an Abita Bomb, was a nice departure from the typical Red Bull and fill-in-the-blank shot served at many watering holes. The bartender informed me that The Ape is stocked with Abita root beer, which, paired with Jägermeister, makes for a smooth shot.
Owner Mat Rapp told me the bar has been around for years, and was previously known as Scandals. Rapp bought the bar in 2008 and decided it was time to bring a younger crowd into the centrally located establishment. On this night he had accomplished his task. Floor space around the karaoke singers became scarce as 20- and 30-somethings broke into mock slow dancing to Journey’s ”Faithfully.”
Another of the bartender’s favorite shots, a Tuaca Bomb, went down even more smoothly. Before I knew it a haze of poorly sung Beatles and Backstreet Boys songs brought about 2 a.m., and smiling faces walked out the door singing simian praises. Just minutes from both the airport and downtown, The Crazy Ape delivers as a neighborhood hangout for the younger crowd without the pretension of a North St. Mary’s locale.
The Crazy Ape
9930 San Pedro
VIBE: Neighborhood bar that appeals to a younger crowd with a large regular base.
BEST USE: Karaoke nights every Monday and Friday from 10pm-2am.
PRICES: $3-$3.75 domestic and imports, $3.50 and up for well and top shelf. Daily $2.50 premium liquor and domestic specials. Happy hour from 12-8pm and SIN night Sundays all night.