August 28, 2007

The Bar Belle: Underage bliss

An ominous e-mail came across the Bar Belle news desk warning Kentucky bars that ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) will be out in force these next few weeks targeting sales to minors and focusing especially on those watering holes situated near colleges and universities. With first-offense fines starting at $1,750, you can bet area bars will abide. (And you thought smoking was the biggest issue right now.)As a bartender, this electronic threat should have shaken my corkscrew. But instead, it brought a smile to my face as I thought back to my own experiences as an underage drinker at Ohio University.Of course, you could get your hands on a cup or two of Natty Lite at house parties, but as a freshman, the invites were few and far between. Some girls in my dorm had older siblings who would pick us up a bottle of Smirnoff vodka — but we could never count on it when we needed it. Then there were the fakes — hard to come by and risky to use. Lucky for us, OU had one beacon of hope for the under-21 hopeless — The Greenery, or “The Cheese” as we called it, referring to the thick film of sludge that would form on your shoes.The Cheese served everyone, regardless of age. It was here I ordered my first ever drink from an impatient bartender. I remember tepidly approaching the bar like I was a child standing on the high-dive about to jump. I had no idea what beer to order, or even if I liked beer, so I nervously scanned the room and searched my memory for the name of a popular beer — Bud Ice it was. The Greenery seemed to exist just under the law — they knew when the police were making the rounds, and bartenders would storm through and knock your drinks into trashcans. The toilets and floors were always overflowing with vomit and urine and sludge, but it never bothered us. We had dancing to do and a tolerance to start shaping. Sadly The Greenery closed during my junior year, but the memories (and scars … did I mention the long staircase up to the dance floor?) will always remain. Long live The Cheese!For details on my upcoming pub crawl (Sept. 8), check out my blog at www.leoweekly.com