Sunday, July 20: Ship Tavern


Sunday, July 20th, 2pm.

First Stop: Ship Tavern at the Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th Street.
Denver, CO 80202

Kelly and my first stop for 30 MILES OF COCKTAILS was almost by accident. We were walking east on 17th Street on a bright Sunday afternoon (way too bright, in my opinion, but that is Colorado where you cannot escape the sun) with plans for cocktails at the Avenue Grill, but a scorching 90+ heat was blasting down upon us as we trudged up the street (damn Death Orb in the sky! When will you relent?!) Where shall we find sanctuary? On seeing the historic Brown Palace Hotel come up to view, I suggested a cocktail break before we reach our further destination, where we knew there would be snacks. Kelly suggested Churchill Bar inside the hotel. I suggested Ship Tavern, since neither of us have ever been there (and have been to Churchill’s many times. I think Kelly only wanted to go there since it is one of the very few remaining bar in which you can still smoke.) In this particular case, I won. Bright shiny idea of Newness beat out cigarettes, which is funny since this bright shiny new bar has been around since 1892.

We’ve seen the doorway to Ship Tavern many times, as it’s right by the restrooms in the Brown Palace lobby. Fleeting impressions on the times we’ve passed it: wood, ship,… and that’s about it. I’ve always wondered why the hell a land locked city and state would have a nautical themed bar in their most prestigious hotel? I mean, the closest bit of water is the Platte River, which is much more of a creek from the rivers I’ve seen growing up. Are they being ironic? Or is it some lost memory? Either way… these fleeting impressions hit us, punched us full on in the face as we walked into the Tavern. Wood… ship… blue… sails… anchors…. and it just didn’t stop. If the old Original Arthur Treacher’s served booze (and it may have), it would look like this.

Now, that is not to say that we didn’t like it. Actually, both of us found it kind of enjoyable… like being in a tiki bar, it ran the knife-edge between kind of kitschy and bad taste tacky. However, as a hotel bar, it was all utterly apt. More than that, in fact. What we found interesting about the place was, unlike the rest of the stiff collar Brown Palace, the sort of comfortable air of the Tavern. This was the corner of the hotel where you could let your hair down and unfasten the top button of your shirt. A place where I wasn’t worried that I left my suit coat at home (well, it was 90+ degrees).

Now, that is not to say that we didn’t like it. Actually, both of us found it kind of enjoyable… like being in a tiki bar, it ran the knife-edge between kind of kitschy and bad taste tacky.

The Tavern, serving booze and food, was still quite busy for a Sunday afternoon – although, like us, the heat probably drove many of the patrons on a quest for AC. Most of the tables were taken, which didn’t bother us at all as we moved to the few free stools at the bar. A quick glance at the taps and shelves made us aware of a bar well-stocked with local and regional beers and whiskeys. Kelly went for the old reliable Newcastle while I wanted to try one of the two cask beers taps that I found in front of me. Our bartender, Daniel, unfortunately found that the ESB cask beer was blown, so he gave me a taster of the other: Palace Caskcraft, which was brewed specifically for the Brown Palace by the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Very good.

We chatted with Daniel (who is also a transplant to Denver from the East Coast) about the city and the bar. …And this is one of the reasons Kelly and I decided to do this project. I’ve lived in Denver for about 7-8 years now, never been to this bar, and never heard the story of Frank Henwood, who shot and murdered two people (one an innocent bystander) over a love triangle in this small bar in 1911. Apparently there was a book written about it (‘Murder at the Brown Palace’.) No clue… and finding out about this little bar, that bit of history, meeting new people, and finding new beer is all utterly brilliant.



30MOCocktails Kelly

First Post!

30 Miles of Cocktails! is an online site about adventure, stories, bar and cocktail reviews, and of course… drinking. A Couple out for a couple drinks (… and then a couple more.)

Kelly and I will focus mainly on Denver, CO (since we live here), wandering around to our local haunts as well as new bars that we have not tried yet (New places! New drinks! New bartenders! Adventure!) However, as our work takes us out of town quite frequently (in fact, will be in Boston in about three weeks. Looking forward to the Hawthorne, Shays, Bukowski’s, Delux, The Sevens, and many other of our favorite bars in my old home.), so we will also be sampling and reviewing the cocktail and bar scene in other cities as well (San Francisco in October? New York City and Philadelphia in December? Maybe! Stay tuned!)

First… a couple of ground rules for the site – and drinking in general (which honestly should be followed by everyone in a cultured society.) Sure there are plenty of small drinking rules (like ‘Don’t order a complex drink at a busy bar’ or ‘Never tell a bartender he’s making a drink too strong’… all laid out by Modern Drunkard Magazine), but these three are our Golden Rules. The Rule of Three, so to say.

ONE: Whenever possible, always sit at the bar. The bar and bartender are the center of the establishment’s focus, energy, and revenue. So, that is the best place to get a good feel for vibe and action of the business. You can NEVER discover that if you are sitting at a table far from the center of things (and with a waitress who is serving a gaggle of tables and too busy to even ask if you’d like another drink.) Also if you can (if the bartender is not too busy), get to know your server. Not only will you possibly get great stories… but maybe free drinks as well.

TWO: Whenever possible, drink local – beers, boozes, and cocktails. This is a no brainer. With the rise of craft and local brewing, we no longer live in the dark times where your only options are Budweiser, Coors, and Jack Daniels (and honestly… why the hell would you want to go back to that?) That said, not everywhere is enlightened. Always have a back-up, a fall back drink that you know you can get if your options are limited. Not every bartender knows how to make an Old Fashioned.

THREE: Tip Generously. Honestly… these are the people making you drinks and lubricating your night on the town. If you can’t afford to tip… then you can’t afford to drink. Buy a bottle and head home.
And now, with those three basic rules in mind, please join us as we put them into practice on a regular basis and ask… “Whose turn is it to buy the next round?”

30 MILES OF CRAZY! 57: The Funeral of CGK, Part 2

Friday! Time for a new 30 MILES OF CRAZY! (#57)

Once again it’s time to leave the charmingly grim and gritty Colfax Avenue (fun for kids of all ages. Just make sure you got your shots) and the Mile High City for the cheesesteak-clogged arteries of Broad Street (and place I once lived for far too long), Philadelphia. With it’s water ice, Mummers, and ‘Bullies’ (1970’s Flyers’ joke!) for Part 2 (of 6) of ‘On The Road – Philadelphia’.

Again (like most of the comics in this series), please note that this comic is TWO pages. Seriously, when I’ve done two page stories in the past (like 30MoC #31), people have approached me in bars commenting that they really didn’t get the story… cause they never scrolled down further to read the next page. So, as a PSA, please scroll down and read the second page.

… and yes, we are still at the funeral. Trust me. It was a weird day. Also … yes, these were all things said to me. And lastly…. yes, my name was almost  ‘Hans’ (and my uncle still calls me that, refusing to use my given name.) Can’t decide if I dodged a bullet or not with that name.

So, let’s get started with THE FUNERAL OF CGK, Part 2.

Like last week, (no sarcasm) the musical accompaniment will be one of my father’s favorite songs. So, three… two… musical accompaniment… and GO!