Booze

A Chat with Scott Crosthwait of The Usual

Scott Crosthwait is a busy guy. His packed schedule includes waiting tables at The Hobbit Café and bartending at The Usual. Does he have a day off? "Not right now, but starting soon, I'm taking every other Tuesday off." He looks completely at home behind the clean but scruffy bar at The Usual, a new-ish neighborhood dive on Allen just off the Washington corridor.

Sometimes people looking for Blue Label Lounge or Citizen end up here. "The vodka girls--it's always Grey Goose and water--wearing the bag dresses, and the guys with sparkly pants and semi-popped collars. The only time they bug me is when you get a guy trying to be the big spender and buy everybody shots, but he's like 'Just give me whatever, whatever you like to make,' and then they never like what I make." What does he serve them? "I stick to a whiskey shot, usually a Red Snapper--it's sweet enough that everyone can take it but not too fruity for the guys," he says. "And it's $6."

Today he's recommending cans of beer from Colorado microbrewer Oskar Blues, extolling the merits of each variety. The Dale's Pale Ale is almost as good as advertised. The crowd includes regulars, along with loud but not obnoxious Texas alums watching the Texas vs. Arizona State College World Series game. By nine, the game has only reached the seventh inning and UT leads by a run, but it's time for the belly dancers to perform. (If that sounds weird for a dive bar, it is; the dancers just happen to know someone who works there.)

"If I turn down the TV," says Crosthwait, "these bitches are going to cut me." But mute is pressed and violence fails to break out. The guys split their time watching the TV and ogling the shimmying, half-naked dancers. And to Scott, the scene doesn't seem outside the usual.

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Sarah Rufka