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Punch Drunk

This Week: Dribbling and Hoping.

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Dribbling and Hoping
Sporting events and bars go together almost as well as attending sporting events and getting irrationally drunk in the parking lot beforehand, which happens to be an elegant combination. We gather with friends. We yell at the television. We yell at nothing in particular. We come to blows with complete strangers. Sometimes we even allow our girlfriends to come. For most men and more than a few women, watching the big game in a bar is the apogee of fun. Excluding you social media nerds, of course.

Other than the Super Bowl, the NCAA men's basketball tourney is unsurpassed as the sporting event to watch in a public house. I've had enduring moments in bars watching the World Cup, college football, golf, the Kentucky Derby and even tennis, but March is, by rule, the bar-sport-watching purist's favorite time of year. Sidenote: Professional baseball and basketball don't count as sports anymore, and hockey, ehh, no thanks.

I fondly recall getting pelted with napkins and beer when Virginia Commonwealth University upset Duke in '07 (I write this column in a Duke Blue Devils T-shirt). I also call to mind hugging complete strangers in a packed 3 Monkeys when George Mason made the Final Four in '06. I even recall my freshman year of college, fake ID in tow, jumping and screaming at the top of my lungs while my school, the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks, upset Southern Cal in the first round of the NCAAs. I can't remember the first girl I slept with in the dorms that year, but I remember that moment.

What distinguishes the NCAA tournament as the greatest sporting event also is what distinguishes it as the premier event to watch in a bar. The underdog will always have a chance. It's a sport that involves kids and heart, not prima-donna grown men and overinflated contracts. Most of us have been the dark horse, favorites only when it comes to failing. So when a No. 10 seed from Bumfuck, Iowa, takes out a No. 1 Kansas, we're elated, even if the closest we've ever come to Iowa is watching “Field Of Dreams.” We're all 15 and 16 seeds in the eyes of Christian Laettner (God).

March is a wonderful time to be a bartender and sports fan. Also I'm starting to see sundresses make their way into the bars. This pleases me even more than VCU failing to make the tournament this year.

What About ABC, Bob?
The dialogue surrounding the purposed privatization of Virginia's liquor distribution continues with Gov. Bob McDonnell still staunchly supporting the proposed sale. Supposedly the McDonnell camp is looking at the other 32 noncontrol states in an effort to see what works best.

I've always been a firm supporter of privatizing ABC but I had to laugh at one anonymous comment concerning the sale left on The Richmond Times-Dispatch Web site: “The minute the ABC stores are privatized, the existing locations will close and the license will be moved to a strip mall near you. Get used to “Liquor Liquor Liquor!” signs next to payday lenders. A match made in heaven!”

I agree. Now all I need is my previous week's pay stub and I'll be swimming in the Jack Daniel's.

Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback consumes and slings drinks at a number of local establishments. He also writes a surly blog at jackgoesforth.blogspot.com. Find him on Twitter @jackgoesforth and on e-mail: bartender@styleweekly.com.

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