“a woman walks into a bar…” the Drawing Room
on 28/03/11 at 6:50 ama woman walks into a bar..., Booze News, BoozeBlog
The streets at 6am are pretty deserted. The night rain lends a neon sheen to the asphalt, reflecting lamplights and flickering street signs that signals the calm before the storm when car-driven humanity clogs the streets to the mundane. I’m on my way to the Drawing Room, opening at 6am. I pull into the empty strip mall parking lot, but for one car, and see a guy in a black hoodie smoking in the drizzle and a large older guy in a faux Hawaiian shirt standing outside. The older guy points me to the laundromat that also opens at 6. No, sez me, I’m going to the bar. At that, he turns and goes back inside. Turns out, he’s the bartender.
Scottie’s seen it all. Worked at the Drawing Room for 16 years. Early shift. But he knows his regulars and I’m not one of them. He tells me girls from the local Children’s Hospital come in after their shifts to wind down. “So, I don’t look like one of your regulars?” “No, you don’t.” But he’s affable and offers me coffee. Coffee? Oh yeah. I hadn’t thought of coffee and had kind of worried about what I could possibly drink at 6 in the morning so I was grateful for the suggestion. At this point, I’m the only one in the bar. Which kind of looks worse for wear from the night before…soiled napkins, discarded swizzle sticks, general detritus strewn about. Clearly OCD is not one of the bar’s better suits. But I’m comfortable. The bar has all the booze you’d find in a dive bar. The right stuff to satisfy the pickiest drunk.
The tv is on Fox and some preacher is postulating whether God is bad or good, mean or playing games. You know with all the natural disasters and wars that are sending challenging vibes through the planet at the moment. Kind of pathetic as the hosts try to make sense of the nonsensical. Am sure these Foxers have already ordered their bomb shelters. The Secret Garden is playing silently on the other tv. Scottie brings me the freshly brewed coffee, which I had worried would be instant, but it’s not and, hey, it’s ok. Better than most.
A sliver of light announces the next patron. Hey Kirby. Hey Scottie. Without another word, Scottie brings Kirby’s drink. Johnnie Walker Red on the rocks. They chat about some poor slob they know who has fallen on hard times. They ‘Tsk. What a shame.’
Hey, Freddie, want a Corona? Another guy takes a seat one over from me. Bernie. Bud Light. His ball cap announces he’s a Yankee’s fan. Bernie’s interesting. Bernie’s mouth moves at least 10 seconds before words actually come out. Like a foreign correspondent on CNN. That annoying delay. But it’s actually mesmerizing as he also gesticulates with his hands as though rounding out the words themselves, caressing the elusive syllables til they appear. It’s positively balletic. Bernie got off work at 4:30, something at Canter’s Deli – I couldn’t quite catch what he does – went home, had a couple of beers waiting for the Drawing Room to open at 6. He’s also winding down after a long night.
Two hipsters join at the end of the bar. Out of the blue, Scottie appears and announces a joke: Blond calls home and tells her mother she’s in jail. I thought you went to Home Depot with Dad? Yeah, but I punched a black lady in the mouth and now I’m in jail. What?! Why’d you do that? Dad told me to go find a Black ‘n Decker. Aaargh. Bernie guffaws. Scottie’s already onto the next customer. Guess you can get away with a shit joke like that at a bar…at 7am.
More Millenials stream in. Oh, man, this guy is CUTE. Jimmy. Blottoed but adorable. Half Irish, half Greek. Gambling’s his game, it’s winning that’s his problem. Financial analyst by day. Youngest guy in his office and, come Monday, all the older settled guys pounce on him to vicariously live his crazy weekends. He’s 26. Has a cool posse of pretty girls with him. Sheena’s a bartender getting off her night shift, Megan’s a good friend of his, others’ names I didn’t get. They all go to someone’s house to drink til the bar opens. Why they don’t continue drinking at home is a question I forgot to ask. To Jimmy: Have you ever had an Irish Car Bomb? Yeah, sure. Have you? Me: Nope, not yet. While Jimmy didn’t need another drink, I proposed we have a Car Bomb. Jimmy’s in, so’s Sheena and me.
Add the Bailey’s and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey’s on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. If you don’t drink it fast enough it will curdle and increasingly taste worse.
Word of wisdom from Jimmy: I like my women like I like my coffee. Drunk.
More dudes trickle in. Couple of tall, beautiful black men, one a poet, one a bouncer. They know how to chat up a woman, not ‘girls’, a woman, they clarify. They come on deep. J. gives me his number and email. God, this is tempting. I swore off of this kind of easy, luxuriant gratification a few years ago. Uh, WHY?
Trouble is lurking at the outer edges of my consciousness, waiting for me to succumb. I better get out of here. I hop off my stool and head for the blazing daylight. It’s 3 hours since I walked into the Drawing Room. And the day’s just beginning.
The Drawing Room
1800 Hillhurst Avenue
Hours: Mon-Sun 6am – 2am