Last Call: Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The Rant

Being objective about bars is kind of a stretch when you gravitate toward a particular kind. Here’s what I mean: If you prefer intimate dives with jukeboxes loaded with the likes of Black Sabbath, Motörhead, and some fortunate locals, it’s hard to give meat markets like The Library and City Streets a fair shake, especially when their vibes seem to be going for “all spring break, all the time.” But in the name of journalistic integrity, I try. Plus, Fort Worth is — technically — a college town. It’s no Madison (the University of Wisconsin) or Columbus (The Ohio State University). But since TCU, Texas Wesleyan, and nearby UTA occupy a lot of real estate and provide a lot of jobs, it’s close enough. Like, say, how a Yugo is technically a European sedan.
Such was on my mind when I popped into Snookies Bar and Grill last week, a Westside stalwart I’ve been to, oh, a million times. It’s within walking distance of my apartment and, perhaps more importantly, has one of the best beer selections around.
The scene was everything I’d expected: crowded but not overly so, with TCU chicks, frat guys, and football players all around, some kind of drink special in effect, and Lil’ Wayne and other faux G’s hypnotically drawling at me from the speakers.
Granted, I’m a rock-punk-ska musician — and look more at home in a dive — and not a degreed Jim Dandy, but still. Nothing excuses the service I got last week, a.k.a. no service at all.
Hence a big thumbs-down to the bartender on duty that night. As I bellied up to the bar, I made eye contact with the guy, an unfamiliar face whom I will refrain from describing in detail because the economy blows and I don’t want anyone getting his pay docked or worse on my behalf. He looked me square in the face but didn’t nod or glare or even tell me to go to hell. Nope, he just kept going about, keeping himself busy. Finally, when a Heybro in a Northface vest came over, stood right next to me, and — magically — got the bartender’s attention (“Hey, bro, gimme a Currs Laht,” no “please,” no “thank you”), the barkeep’s message to me came through loud and clear: “I don’t give a shit about you, punk-rocker, or your stinking order.” And out the door I went.
As a part-time drink-slinger and full-time misanthrope, I understand annoying customers. I understand that there are people with whom we bartenders are not thrilled to engage in small talk, and I totally understand the awkwardness that comes with an outsider’s wandering into your scene. But service is service, and if there’s one thing that distinguishes Bar A from Bar B, it’s service. (Always remember: The beer is as cold at Bar A as it is at bars B through Z.)
I know I’m not in the coveted 18-24 demographic, and I obviously don’t roll into any joint with hot chicks on my arm. But I am polite (“please,” “thank you”), and I do tip (handsomely, when I’m actually served). After all, I’m a professional drinker. When a bartender keeps a person like me from doing my job, everyone loses. — Steve Steward

The Plug
Big thumbs-up to Mark Irving, famous raconteur and former bartender-in-chief (at least according to me) at the recently shuttered Shamrock Pub (now Poag Mahone’s). Now starring behind the bar at Paddy Reds Irish Pub pretty much every night of the week, Irving is always ready to chat, foster a familial environment by introducing everyone sitting at the bar to everyone else (seriously), and lay down the law when required. I normally don’t go to Paddy Reds, and for reasons that still remain murky, I decided to swing by one night a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t know a person there, but by the end of the night, I felt as if I’d been hanging out in a friend’s living room for hours. Pay Irving a visit, and if you’re not greeted immediately on your entrance or if your well somehow goes dry, your next round is on me. — Anthony Mariani

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