Downtown Abbey: On a Monday; topics discussed: Family traditions, Travis Tritt, authenticity.

By
From the June 5, 2014 edition

“We only have whiskey-flavored whiskey; this is a grown-up bar.”

That was the first thing I heard the bartender say when I walked in Dick’s Den.

Currently in Columbus, the bars, they-are-a-changin’ — which is cool — but that isn’t to say the drunk memories of parties past don’t pull at my heartstrings. To satiate my nostalgia, I hit up Dick’s Den because, why not, right?

Full disclosure: Before I went to college, my father told me getting thrown out of Dick’s is a family tradition. Since then, it’s held a special place in my heart. I walked in and took a deep breath. The look, the smell, the feel — were all exactly how I left it from my broke college days. I’m fairly certain nothing at Dick’s Den has changed since basically the 1980s, including the prices and most of the patrons.

I pulled up a stool and ordered my regular Jameson and ginger ale. “You want some pizza? We just ordered it,” one of the bartenders asked. I hadn’t even paid for my drink yet, and the bartender was already more hospitable than most people I’ve met.

I took a sip, and a chill ran down my back. I hadn’t had a drink that strong in a while. With the onslaught of high-end cocktail offerings, Dick’s aversion to bells and whistles was a refreshing break.

The barstool conversations were just as epic as I remembered too.

“If your goal is to see breasts, you’re definitely going to commit malpractice,” one patron said matter-of-factly to another.

“Do you ladies think I look like Travis Tritt? Are you into Travis Tritt?” a man who did not look like Travis Tritt asked a group of women taking shots.

Apparently prompted by the Travis Tritt query, the group of women burst out into a country music sing-a-long that the other patrons and bartenders jumped on immediately. I found myself tapping along too, though I hated that particular song.

Therein lays the beauty of Dick’s Den, the atmosphere makes you want to be on the same team as all the other people in the room, even if the song sucks. The bartender doesn’t get an establishment’s catchphrase tattooed on her arm because it’s the trendiest bar in town; she does it because that place offers something authentic. Authenticity tastes better than any craft cocktail I’ve ever had.