Drink: Lagunitas Brewing Co., Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
The xylophone standing in the entryway of Halcyon is the first clue something troubling is underfoot. I suspiciously go back to sipping my beer. What once was a peaceful group of coffee drinkers has almost imperceptibly changed into a large and raucous crowd. My drinking buddy for the night, Jack
Looney, joins me. I motion to the xylophone without looking directly at it. He turns. “Yeah, that might be trouble,” he says.
We finish our beers and step outside. Scattered groups slowly shuffle like animated corpses toward the Blue Star Arts Complex. My worst fears have been realized. How could I have missed the signs? First Friday is upon us.
Drink: Real Ale Brewing Co., Hans’ Pils
We flee across the river while Cryin’ D.T. Buffkin and the Bad Breath’s music echoes down from Blue Star’s outdoor stage. Somehow we arrive at the salmon-colored convent known as the Liberty Bar, going up the steep steps and around the corner to sit amongst a small group of regulars. Bartenders Armando Estrada and Bobby Sanchez serve us beers while we quickly chow down the goat cheese and piloncillo appetizer. The peace doesn’t last long. Heavy footsteps foretell of masses approaching. I down a stiff whiskey cocktail for good measure before we make our escape.
The Friendly Spot
Drink: Pabst Blue Ribbon
We briefly consider a drink at Feast but the seemingly-armed guard in front deters us. It’s always best to avoid potential gunfights. We cross the street and go through the checkpoint at the Friendly Spot, acquiring pink wristbands, to choose between two long lines. A man with tribal tattoos coursing across his face scowls at me. We head to the less-busy back.
Despite the overwhelming selection of beers, I go with Pabst. Not every drinking decision I make will be a good one, and once I start down the bad beer spiral there’s no going back. The man behind me is struck dumb on the spot trying to choose what IPA to order. We share a bench with some strangers near the wall of porta-potties.
Drink: Shiner Premium
My depravity for bad beer leads us down the back streets of Southtown to the Monterey. I’m in search of Pearl. An attempt to escape the spiral with an aperitif cocktail fails. We sit down at the bar and I order a Pearl. The bartender, Marian Galvan, tells me they aren’t serving Pearl anymore. I see them sitting in the fridge, waiting for me. She offers me a Shiner Premium instead. I drink it quick. All attempts at getting her to secretly pour a Pearl into the empty can of Shiner Premium fail. She’s not about to give in to my nonsense. The world is cruel and unjust sometimes. Drunk people problems.
Drink: “Slam Dunk”
Rumors swirled around the J&O Cantina. Some said it wasn’t open. Some said it had weird hours. Some said it was haunted. Maybe some didn’t say that last one, but still, we had to investigate. There’s a group standing outside smoking cigarettes when we arrive. Inside, the place is packed. A woman plays acoustic guitar and sings what Looney informs me is a cover of a Kid Cudi song. I bring him for his vast historical knowledge and tonight he doesn’t disappoint.
We walk up to the bar and I notice a drink on the board called the “Slam Dunk” (I wish there were more quotes around that) and immediately order it. From what I can tell, it consists of Southern Comfort, something orange, and something purple. The crowd here is friendly and enthusiastic. We sit on a couch and I let the “Slam Dunk” weave its magic.
Drink: Stella Artois
Ordering a hotdog called the “Thai Kick Boxer” from the Rocker Dogz stand in front of Southtown 101 seems like a good idea after a “Slam Dunk.” Joy Division plays from somewhere outside while Salt-N-Peppa’s “Push It” plays inside. We decide to stay outside. Looney goes in and comes back out with two Stellas. For some reason everyone wears flannel shirts tonight. We sip our beers and wonder when and where the night went wrong.
Alamo Street Eat Bar
Drink: Pabst Blue Ribbon
Still hungry, we head to Alamo Street Eat Bar. The crowds have dispersed but for a few stragglers. We share a burger and fries from the Attaboy food truck. I drink what I hope to be my last PBR.
The night ends the way nights often do around here, sitting on a porch with friends, drinking whatever beers are left. We survived another First Friday attack.