The bar review is partially a place for us men to attempt to answer that eternal question of masculinity: Who can drink more? Well, I’ll just come out and say it: I can. Proof? How about my Tuesday-morning hangover? Or the fact that my recycle bin is always full? Maybe it’s the beer I slammed down at B & D Ice House this First Friday.
Who am I really kidding, though? This is about a bar, not me. And what a fantastic bar it is.
Light spears through the open front door, leaving the bar in a comfortable, cool, shadowy dusk, and out the open back door, where a chain-link fence creates a sort of dog run directing clientele to the men’s room, which I didn’t have to use on account of my manliness, but which I have used before, also on account of my manliness.
The bartender/owner, who my companion and I gathered is named Bruno (I think it was the gag mechanical dog, named Bruno Jr., that growled until you put your finger in his bowl at which point he lunged and barked that finally tipped the scale), was hilarious. He joked and laughed with the regulars and us the entire time we were there. He claimed that it didn’t pay to sing in the shower because when he did, the water shut off (this was probably one of more tame and self-deprecating zingers of the evening). I couldn’t help but tip the entire price of my Lone Star Light ($1.50) for my last round (remember: I had had several beers in nearly as many minutes).
The bar itself is as small as the hours it keeps are short. And it’s crammed with knickknacks (I counted at least three elephants and a leopard statuette covered in thick plastic wrap), old beer cans (Falstaff and Gablinger), a pay phone, strings of lights shaped like chile peppers wrapped around poles, and, this was a first, an old jukebox. Yet, there’s still room for a couple of small tables and, of course, the formica-topped bar. Still, people preferred to stand around the end of the bar and jaw with the bartender, who happily exchanged insults between jokes.
Strangely, behind all of this, Bob Dylan crooned and then Dizzy Gillespie bebopped and then a loungy big-band song came on. It underlined the communal, friendly atmosphere while injecting the whole place with a sense of purpose. I drained the last half of my beer, grabbed my companion by the waist, and sauntered out of the B & D feeling just right.