If you’ve even glanced at a national news website or flipped on the TV news at some point over the past few days, you’ve probably heard that the weather has been much colder than usual in many parts of the country. In some places a precipitation phenomenon called thundersleet has occurred, which also sounds like a spell available to a wizard character in a role-playing game. As a Jimmy Buffett fan (who is not a character in an RPG but probably should be), whenever I’ve been cooped up indoors because of below-freezing temperatures, I think of a lyric from “Boat Drinks” off Buffett’s 1979 album Volcano. Buffett reportedly wrote the song in February in Boston while stuck at a bar owned by hockey great Derek Sanderson. Buffett sings, “Twenty degrees, and the hockey game’s on / Nobody cares, they’re way too far gone, screamin’, ‘Boat drinks!’ / Somethin’ to keep ’em all warm.” When I heard that in my head last week, I wanted nothing more than to slurp on something high-octane and tropical, equal parts liquor and fruit juice, perhaps with a slice of pineapple or at least an extra-long straw. And maybe watch hockey.
I should’ve just gone to Razzoo’s, seeing as how it was almost Mardi Gras and Hurricane season (the New Orleans drink, not the storm) was reaching its peak. Instead, I went to Kona Grill, intending to belly up to the bar, peruse the cocktail menu, and order the silliest-sounding libation on the list — or at least a mai tai. Surely a place with “Kona” in its name will make you a mai tai, but I never found out because the place was packed. And instead of the Stars game, every TV was tuned to random college basketball. I tabled Kona for some other time and headed to Grapevine to check out Peace Burger.
At Peace Burger, I ate my weight in hot dogs and tater tots. Or at least I felt like I did — if I’d had more than one beer, I might have needed to take a nap. Fighting off a food coma, I started back down the highway toward Fort Worth. As I neared the spot where the construction gets especially gnarly, I saw the sign for Big Shots Sports Café. “Why not,” I thought.
Located in a sprawling strip center, Big Shots is the older, larger, sports bar-ier sibling of next-door neighbor Ron’s Corner Tavern, a classy neighborhood pub with a good selection of Texas craft beers and premium whiskies. I’d never been to Big Shots, nor, I soon realized, to Toadies, the sports bar looming at the opposite end of the strip mall. I went to Toadies first.
Entering beneath the glow of a backlit, friendly-looking, cigar-gumming frog, I was kind of hoping I’d see something terrible. One time somebody told me Toadies smelled like barf. “Cool!” I said, because places that smell like barf are usually a lot more fun than they have any right to be — if you remember the old Black Dog Tavern downtown, you know what I’m talking about. But other than a whiff of cigarette smoke, Toadies smelled fine. It’s just a big bar with a huge TV and some comparatively smaller TVs, oak counters, booth seating, macrobrews on tap, and a funny lounge area with comfy leather furniture and slate tile on the walls and floor. And dartboards. For some reason the dartboards are near the nice couches. I was expecting the worst, but Toadies was totally inoffensive.
Toadies might have smelled perfectly ordinary, but something faintly funky was in the air at Big Shots as I walked past. I pinpointed it near the stage. It wasn’t barf, and it wasn’t sewage, but whatever it was scared me into skipping a drink there and going to Ron’s.
Ron’s, sadly, had its own problem, though it didn’t affect me at all. A water line had broken, which was fine because I like my bourbon neat anyway. However, I found that after one Eagle Rare, I was done for the night. I left the dozen or so other patrons and the quietude of Ron’s and got in my car. I looked up Volcano on Spotify to sing along to on the trip home but ended up driving back in silence, thinking about the weather, thinking about cabin fever, wishing I could go where it’s warm. –– Steve Steward
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