An Anchorage bar-hopper's essential guide to the latest nightlife action and coolest hot-spots.
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Posted: April 26, 2007 - 4:40 pm
Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse, one of downtown's hottest hot spots, has officially gone smoke-free more than two months before the Anchorage smoking ban goes into effect July 1.
Why now? I sat down with Humpy's promotions manager Cyndi Ramirez to get the scoop.
Q. July is more than two months away. Why ban smoking now?
A. Somehow, through the planets aligning, (the ban) went to vote the week of our spring cleaning. We did a huge cleaning -- ripped out the carpet, fresh paint, we cleaned every nook and cranny. We said, "You know what? The ban has passed. Why go through all this cleaning and let people stink it up for the next two months? Let's just go ahead and do it now."
Posted: April 19, 2007 - 1:29 pm
We all enjoy a good house party -- but I really love a house party with live music and all-you-can-guzzle beer for $10, held at one of Anchorage's coolest downtown apartments, complete with a rooftop patio that overlooks Fourth Avenue.
It's real: And you’re invited.
On the third Friday of every month, the fun-loving leftist journalists of online publication Insurgent 49 host this fiesta. More specifically, that's Aaron and Nova, a married couple who live in a big apartment that's basically next door to and one floor up from Rumrunners Old Towne Bar & Grill at the corner of E Street and Fourth Avenue.
Posted: April 18, 2007 - 5:21 pm
What am I going to do with my Tuesday nights?
There are just two weeks left of Pub Quiz at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse. I am a geeky freak for these trivia nights. Maybe it's the chance to show off useless knowledge, or the $2.50 steak fries, or the high-energy mix of age groups and genders and stereotypes the game draws, or the stupidly entertaining names the teams come up with. (Favorite from last night: "Broken Trojans and the New Daddies.")
There are only two games left, on April 24 and May 1. If you haven't played, you should go, cause it's your last shot til trivia returns this fall. And it's a perfect time to enjoy those steak fries, with Humpy’s officially smoke-free for more than a week now.
Posted: April 16, 2007 - 12:24 pm
Ginger, the hot new downtown restaurant and bar, is deserving of the positive buzz going around town.
Since Ginger opened in March, friends in-the-know have visited, repeatedly, and asked, "Have you gone to Ginger yet?" with growing impatience. Finally, and happily, I can say yes, I've been, and I can't wait to go back.
Ginger is more restaurant than bar, with Pacific Rim dishes that range from inventive to dependable. But its small bar shouldn't be discounted. At the short, curved bar top, with stools, plus a pair of tables by the window, one feels comfortable dropping in for a drink or appetizers.
Posted: April 6, 2007 - 4:59 pm
This just in: Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse is going smoke free starting Tuesday.
Cyndi Ramirez, Humpy's fun-loving promotions gal, e-mailed me today with the news. Apparently Humpy's is closed Monday all day for spring cleaning and will also be getting new carpet. The owners decided to keep the air clean too when the popular downtown bar and restaurant reopens Tuesday.
Humpy's, like all bars, would have been forced to eliminate smoking July 1, because of the indoor smoking ban passed by the Anchorage Assembly. Those paying attention know there was a proposition on last week's citywide election ballot that would have stopped that ban from taking place. Those paying attention also know that proposition went down in flames.
Posted: April 5, 2007 - 10:26 am
Sometimes, ordering a drink is daunting.
Purple Hooter, Honolulu Shooter, Shark's Nipple, Cape Cod -- where to begin? Often, I order the same old rum-and-Diet Coke because it seems impossible to mentally wade through the watering-hole possibilities and give the bartender a prompt order.
Web site idrink.com offers more than 13,700 drink recipes. Some are disgusting. (The site awards "worst drink" honors to the 1A Special Surprise Party, which involves pouring Tang into a two-thirds full can of Natural Light beer. Ew.) But there are also true gems. The key is finding those you will like.
Posted: April 3, 2007 - 6:53 pm
When you move into a new place -- a seemingly routine exercise for the young-and-leasing set -- it's essential to scout the neighborhood and get your bearings. On the to-do list: Find the nearest gas station, grocery store and coffee cart.
And, of course, the nearest bar.
There's something refreshing about having a place that's a short walk or cheap cab ride from home, where the bartender knows your face, your drink, and you know the numbers of your favorite jukebox selections.
When I lived near Sullivan Arena, my closest respite was at Crossroads Lounge. When I resided on the edge of downtown, Polar Bar became my local watering hole. Alas, with my newest address change, it seemed I had moved into a nightlife abyss -- the Lake Otis Parkway and 80th Avenue area, to be precise. There are plenty of tanning salons, sushi joints and fancy grocery stores. But bars? Not so much.
Posted: March 22, 2007 - 1:28 pm
All this time, I thought happy hours were illegal in Alaska. Happily, I was wrong.
I must have heard it from a dozen friends over the years: "Anchorage bars aren't allowed to have happy hours." I would travel to other cities, enjoy cheap happy hour deals, then wonder why Alaska was lamely lagging by banning deals for early-evening pub crawlers.
That isn't exactly the case. Alaska bars face some restrictions when it comes to setting beverage prices. Blame those crazy kids from the 1980s, when the Anchorage party was in full swing. Doug Griffin, director of the ABC Board, was in his 20s then. One popular gesture, recalled Griffin, was to "six pack" someone: You would literally buy them six drinks, and the compliant bartender was happy to serve.
Posted: March 6, 2007 - 4:22 pm
Get in gear because tickets are on sale now for a Saturday fundraiser that will get the fledgling Alaska Roller Derby League rolling.
Titled “For Those A Bout to Rock,” the event at Players House of Rock will include bands Bad Angles, WUPT and Spitshine, the vampy vixens of the VivaVoom Brr-Lesque troupe, and the lovely ladies of the AK Roller Derby League. This entourage of entertainment is promising music, dancing, stripteases, raffles, an auction, a kissing booth -- and Polaroids for souvenirs!
Posted: February 22, 2007 - 4:34 pm
Here's something different: Tonight, The O Nightclub and Bar (4801 Old Seward Highway) is hosting a foam party in its basement. Usually these sudsy soirees are aimed at teenagers and thrown at all-ages clubs. But The O's bash is adults only, billed as "good clean alcoholic fun" on the bar's MySpace page (www.myspace.com/aktheo).
These events involve music, cool light shows and lots of foam. As the bar says, "dress to get wet" and expect a wild time indeed. Tickets are $15, available in advance at The O.
Posted: February 22, 2007 - 4:33 pm
Parking downtown can be a real headache. But say you plan on drinking -- a lot -- and need to leave your car overnight. Figuring out where to park it and still avoid a ticket or tow can be even more challenging.
What to do? It's not completely hopeless. One possibility, of course, is to stay sober or designate a sober driver. Another alternative: Leave the car at home and hop a ride or catch a cab to your destination.
But there are safe overnight parking places downtown. The Sixth Avenue Garage, at Sixth Avenue and H Street, is open 24 hours, with cash accepted until 7 p.m. and only credit cards after that. The JC Penney Garage at Sixth and E Street is also open 24 hours, with cash accepted until 11 p.m. and credit cards only after that.
Posted: February 15, 2007 - 4:41 pm
If you want a burger, a bar stool and a big screen for the big game, Eddie's Sports Bar won't let you down. But why stop there?
At least, that's the working theory at Eddie's, a bar that goes above and beyond the simple mission suggested by its name. Sure, it's a sports bar. But it's also a place where you can play poker, hear live country music, catch a hypnotist's performance, enjoy weekly jazz jam nights and devour cheap and delicious prime rib.
The bar is at 6300 Old Seward Highway, and you'd never guess from its square, simple exterior that this building packs so much pleasure. Inside, the ground floor is spacious, with several pool tables, a few dart boards and arcade-style video games, including Ms. Pac-Man. Neon lights are the dominant decor. Downstairs, in a cavernous basement, is a second bar plus a stage and dance floor.
Posted: February 14, 2007 - 3:24 pm
Valentine's Day packs a lot of pressure for couples who observe the holiday.
Planning the perfect date means picking the ideal venue. And someplace "special" can speedily amount to a lot of dollar signs that, for many of us, just aren't practical.
It doesn't have to be that way.
An easy solution: Skip a fancy dinner out and, instead, visit a fancy bar. You can't go wrong with the Hotel Captain Cook. On the east end of the hotel complex, ground floor, is Fletcher's, a buzzing English pub. Upstairs there's the Crow's Nest, which, besides boasting some of the finest cuisine in town, has a bar and a vast menu of martinis.
Posted: February 2, 2007 - 12:40 pm
Super Bowl Sunday marks a super day for sweet deals on food, drinks and freebies at local bars. But true football fans must also select venues with care and hustle to ensure scoring a good seat in the line of sight to that big-screen television.
Where to go? I've got you covered with this roundup of surefire spots to soak up Super Bowl XLI (kickoff at 2:25 p.m. Sunday):
•The Peanut Farm
5227 Old Seward Hwy., 563-3283
Atmosphere: Supreme sports bar of Anchorage.
No. of TVs: 70
Biggest TV: Nine projection screens that are at least 10 feet wide.
Posted: January 26, 2007 - 10:34 am
There are gay bars and gay-friendly bars, but it's too soon to say which best describes one of Anchorage's newest establishments, the Kodiak Bar & Grill.
It opened just before Christmas in the downtown space at 225 E. Fifth Ave. formerly occupied by the Kodiak Kafe, next to stylish furniture store Indigo.
I asked around before checking it out. One pal had heard it was a gay bar. Another friend repeated the same info; a third said she'd heard gay pals place it in the "gay-friendly" category.
Seems Kodiak is still evolving into a precise label. The owner told me that he doesn't want to copycat Mad Myrna's, Anchorage's very established, very popular gay bar, known for its fabulous bartenders, two lively dance floors, titillating drag shows and rainbow-dominated decor.
Posted: January 22, 2007 - 3:25 pm
The scene has its first casualty of 2007: Joey's Bar, on Tudor Road in the former Tony Roma's building.
Owner Joe Bell won't say why the bar closed or whether it will reopen. Stay tuned. The bar's demise may go relatively unnoticed. When friends and I visited, it was pretty dead. But it was a nonsmoking venue, something some pub crawlers crave.
Come July, all Anchorage bars are slated to go smoke-free. But clean-lunged party people have options in the meantime. Don't overlook the Peanut Farm (5227 Old Seward Highway). It's Anchorage's premiere sports bar and so much more.
Posted: January 18, 2007 - 4:52 pm
Ladies, this one's for you: The U.S. Men of Steel from Hollywood will be at Players House of Rock on Spenard Road for three consecutive nights of sizzling strip-teasing next week.
Shows are scheduled for Jan. 25, 26 and 27. It's a girls-only affair. The only men allowed will be the ones whipping off the silly outfits.
Tickets cost $10 at the door. Shows start at 8 p.m.
-- by Katie Pesznecker
Posted: January 18, 2007 - 3:57 pm
Pioneer Bar is resurrecting its popular acoustic music nights on the third Thursday of each month. These events are also "Jager nights," meaning Jagermeister gives Pio a whole bunch of merchandise that they pass on to us. Nice.
It’s been months since Pio hosted one of these events, the last being when Delmag frontman Mike Gorder was still in town. I feared with his departure (to join his bride in New York City), the live music had died at Pio. So glad to hear it's not so.
Posted: January 15, 2007 - 11:31 am
There are bars I visit often but a handful I never visit at all. It isn't because they're out of the way or too expensive. It's because they're scary.
How do I know they're scary? I don't. But these establishments have such bad reps in just about every way possible. You hear about fights, shady regulars, shadier surroundings -- not exactly my idea of fun.
So imagine my surprise when, recently, a friend told me that popular former Pioneer Bar bartender Conan Dolezal is now slinging sudsy drinks at the Avenue Bar and that the watering hole on Fourth Avenue near C Street has actually cleaned up.
Posted: December 29, 2006 - 9:45 am
New Year's is an alcoholiday if ever there was one. No buying gifts, preparing fancy meals or devising clever costumes -- it's all about the party. And Anchorage's usual suspects are ready.
Here's a rundown of celebrations at the city's most popular spots:
Chilkoot Charlie's -- the biggest party palace in town -- charges one of the heftiest covers on New Year's Eve: a $15 VIP pass gets you in the door and lets you skip the line, otherwise pay $12. If you're looking for the hugest crowd, dance floors galore and favorable odds at meeting a New Year's mate, it's worth it.