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Bars / Drinking Establishments Posts

Entering the Devil’s Triangle

In late September 2018 it would have been a challenge to read a newspaper or watch a television news program without encountering the phrase “Devil’s Triangle.” In case anyone has already forgotten, I’ll briefly explain. It was related to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court and Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against him. With Kavanaugh’s character in question, everything about him became subjected to analysis, including his 1983 high school yearbook, where the phrase “Devil’s Triangle” appeared in a long list of Kavanaugh’s accomplishments meshed with a slew of inside jokes.

This is a pretty typical thing. My own 1991 high school yearbook lists my involvement in luge. My high school didn’t have an official luge team, of course. But the entry isn’t entirely a joke. I organized several sledding events with my peers — just the traditional riding of orange Paris and red Norca plastic sleds down the hills of Duluth. We referred to ourselves as the Denfeld High School Luge Team.

As you can probably guess, the odds are 100 percent in favor of a search for “luge, sex term” on the internet generating an eye-opening result. It turns out that mentioning in my yearbook the simple act of going sledding with my friends could be interpreted as bragging about fellatio skills.

Ripped at V.F.W. Post 137 in 2009

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. After the Fox-Sutherland V.F.W. Post 6320 in West Duluth closed, it merged with the Lincoln Park neighborhood post. The town’s infamous drunken scribbler paid a visit in February 2009 to file this report for the weekly Transistor. Historical note: One year later, V.F.W. Post 137 was renamed the McConnell-Modeen Post. It remains open at 2023 W. Michigan St.]

It seems camaraderie among Veterans of Foreign Wars is on the decline. Duluth is down to its last V.F.W. club, the Duprey-Alexander Post 137 in the friendly West End neighborhood. There’s no sign on the front of the building, or any other visible indication the club exists, but the V.F.W. is indeed still there, open every day from 3 p.m. until the volunteer bartender decides to lock up.

Tonight, the clientele consists of a young couple at the bar playing cribbage and a small group meeting in the next room. My arrival does not excite the volunteer bartender at all, and I can’t blame her. Working on tips alone, she must be pulling in $4 an hour. It’s only 8 p.m., but she clearly wants to close up shop right now. I think I’ll try ordering a margarita just to watch her reaction.

The Hopper Shuttle: Catering to Craft Beverage Fans

The Hopper Logo

A new complimentary shuttle service will provide a link between Duluth’s craft beverage purveyors. Starting Feb. 8 the Hopper, a 15-passenger van, will run between Canal Park, Lincoln Park and Downtown every Friday and Saturday night.

Ripped During Swamping Hours in 2009

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Ten years ago the Sultan of Sot visited a trio of West Duluth bars and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]

To borrow a term from the card game blackjack, I’ve decided to “double down” on my drinking today. What that means is, I’m at the Rustic Bar in West Duluth at 8 a.m. My goal is to get drunk by midday, go home and pass out, then wake up and go to the bars again. If I manage to get drunk twice, well, I’ve doubled my winnings.

On top of that, drinking while the buses are still running means there’s no need to spend valuable beer money on a taxi. In tough economic times, we all need to get thrifty, right?

For some reason it’s boiling hot inside the Rustic, which I didn’t expect on a January morning. There are four other guys at the bar, and two of them have stripped down to their T-shirts. Eventually, one of them asks the bartender why it’s so hot. She looks at the thermostat and tells us it’s set for 80 degrees.

The New Spurs on First: Just a Little Bit Country

Madeline Petersen and Jona Johnson - Photo by Lissa Maki

Madeline Petersen and Jona Johnson – Photo by Lissa Maki

Two young women recently bought Spurs on First. The entrepreneurs are adding their own flair to the longtime country bar, booking hip hop and rock performers as well as updating drinks and decor.

Ripped at the Blue Crab Bar in 2008

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. Before OMC Smokehouse took over the building at 1909 W. Superior St., it was home to the Blue Crab Bar, which closed due to foreclosure in 2009. But in 2008 the ol’ Sultan of Sot visited the Blue Crab and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]

There are two ways to get on my list of favorite bars: 1) Cater to a bunch of weirdo regulars who are constantly shitfaced and causing a scene, or 2) Sell 34-ounce beers for $3.50 or less. You’d think the latter would automatically produce the former, but for some reason the freak vibe has failed to catch on at the Blue Crab Bar, in spite of the cheap swill. Still, it’s one of my favorite places, and there are rare moments of crazy if you are patient enough to wait for them.

Tonight, as usual, about eight people are spread out in the room. They are mostly keeping to themselves, either staring at the TV or engaging in soft chatter. The bartender disappears on a smoke break for about 10 minutes of every hour.

Barmuda Triangle of West Duluth

Sure, you’ve heard stories of mysterious and unusual disappearances in West Duluth. What exactly happened to old so-and-so last night? Well, there’s a good chance your friend slipped into the Barmuda Triangle.

Ripped at Little Angie’s in 2008

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out another relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. In this adventure, Slim gets ripped at Little Angie’s Cantina & Grill for an article that was originally published in the July 28, 2008 issue of the Transistor.]

Walking through Canal Park, I feel totally out of my element. There are teenagers everywhere. A few of them are skateboarding aimlessly, weaving in and out of groups of other teenagers who are standing around together talking on their cell phones. Apparently, they are making calls to find out where else in town teenagers are standing around doing nothing. The whole thing is way too wholesome and family-oriented for me. The only way I like to spend time around people under 21 is when I’m ordering from a pregnant bartender in South Range.

As I approach Little Angie’s Cantina & Grill, however, all I can see and hear is an old, fat woman on the deck who is colossally inebriated. “I feel like I’m drunk,” she says to a group of young women who appear to be her daughters. “We’re leaving without paying.”

Now this, dear readers, is my element.

Ripped at Baja Billy’s in 2008

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out another relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s connoisseur of drinking establishments from 1999 to 2009. In this article we travel back ten years to the time of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 — before Duluth’s Mexico Lindo restaurant existed — when the ol’ “sultan of sot” paid a visit to Baha Billy’s at the Fitger’s Brewery Complex. The article was originally published in the June 30, 2008 issue of the Transistor.]

Have all you motherfucking patriotic cheesedicks got your economic stimulus checks from the IRS yet? That’s valuable drinking money, you know. While a few misguided Duluthians might use that free cashola to pay down their massive credit-card debt or save up to fix their sewer lines, the rest of us know what it’s really for: top-shelf liquor.

And so I walk into the Fitger’s Brewery Complex with three crispy hundos in my pocket, which is pretty much the only way you can walk into a shopping mall on Grandma’s Marathon weekend. My destination is Baja Billy’s Cantina & Grill, the tourist trappiest of the four drinking establishments in the building. Sure, my money would go a lot further at, for example, the Rustic in West Duluth, but I’m not dealing with real money today. I’m going to sit outside on Duluth’s best deck, look out at the full moon over Lake Superior, and slowly get hammered, all on the U.S. taxpayer’s dime.

Copper Crow Distillery open near Bayfield

The Arrowhead region’s supply of hooch expanded in April when Copper Crow Distillery opened on the Red Cliff Reservation about four miles north of Bayfield. It joins Vikre Distillery in Duluth as the area’s only makers of alcoholic spirits.

Ripped at Horseshoe Billiards in 2006

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. As construction continues on the new Ursa Minor Brewery at 2415 W. Superior St., this article harkens back to the days when the building was home to a pool hall and drinking establishment called Horseshoe Billiards. The article was originally published in the May 8, 2006 issue of the Transistor.]

I should know better than to expect middle-aged hustlers. I want to hang out with someone like Minnesota Fats tonight, and instead I’m surrounded by a crowd of mostly 25- to 35-year-olds who fall into two categories: 1) Unattractive men. 2) Unattractive women.

Now, I don’t require pretty faces to have a good time. But see, these creeps at Horseshoe Billiards are unattractive for reasons other than what nature dealt them.

There are a lot of men here wearing jerseys who obviously don’t play sports, for example. About half of these guys are wearing hats, and the ones who aren’t should be.

The Ripple Bar on Lake Superior opens March 23

Maggie Gustafson

Maggie Gustafson – Photo by Lissa Maki

If all goes swimmingly, the Ripple Bar on Lake Superior will open on Friday at 3 p.m. A soft opening was held last night.

Margaret “Maggie” Gustafson is the new owner of the rebranded drinking establishment, formerly known as the Slip. The bar occupies a 900-square-foot space adjacent to Hoops Brewing at 325 S. Lake Ave. in Duluth’s Canal Park Business District.

Aces on First under new ownership

Cade Grover

Cade Grover – Photo by Lissa Maki

Customers may have noticed a few changes at Aces on First. Two seasoned Duluth mixologists have taken over the popular downtown drinking establishment and dance club at 113 W. First St.

Wunderbar: a new place to eat, stay and play in Grand Marais

In late October, as many businesses in the remote community of Grand Marais were shuttering for the season, Wunderbar Eatery and Glampground was quietly making its debut.

Wunderbar occupies the former Harbor Light supper club, which has been closed for about five years. The building at 1615 Highway 61 W. dates back to 1930.

R.I.P. Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill

Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill announced on Facebook today it has closed after 32 years in business. The bar will become part of the new Lyric Kitchen and Bar, which is also replacing Porter’s restaurant as part of a series of renovation projects at Duluth’s Holiday Center.

A news release by Holiday Inn & Suites-Duluth and Lion Hotel Group notes the Lyric will open for business on Oct. 30 and will feature “a full bar and light-hearted dining experience that celebrates all things Duluth.” The menu will include burgers, pizzas and steaks. Breakfast will be served seven days a week.