Bar Beat

Happy Hour Scene: Darkhorse Tavern

It was sometime during our field sobriety test that we remembered how much we absolutely love Washington Avenue.

We were thinking a lot of things when the officer asked us to step out of our vehicle, but chief among them was all the fun that we'd have at jail and who would be calling Tyler Flood.

But all that was later in our evening, which had started a couple hours earlier at a "late night" happy hour at Darkhorse Tavern, a quaint bar that feels isolated from some of the riff raff just a few blocks away. Happy hour on Wednesdays at Darkhorse -- near Washington and Hemphill Street -- runs until 11 p.m.

Parking was a breeze -- surprisingly -- with a lot right behind the bar. Apart from a lively group of about half a dozen dart throwers hanging out in the back of Darkhorse, only a couple other guys were at the bar. They were both taking advantage of the $8 pizza special -- margherita or pepperoni -- and watching a basketball game.

After the bartender brought us our beer, he poured himself a little Shiner.

Darkhorse is a warm place, decked out in the wood and brass trimmings that give it the classic tavern feel. There's a couch at the front of the bar where a couple people sat and drank Lone Stars. There's a patio out back, too.

Happy hour, except on Wednesdays, runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on weeknights, and, along with some food specials, it's basically $1 off all drinks. Bridgeport IPA, for example, was $3 for a pint.

About an hour after we'd been there, one of the dart throwers sat down at the bar and ordered a vodka on the rocks. He seemed to be a basketball fan and yelled at the television for one of the players to shoot the ball.

"I remember my first basketball game," he said. "Lakers and the Phoenix Suns. I was like nine-years-old and I met Magic Johnson. It was awesome."

He was talking about his job as a professional poker player when one of his buddies sat down next to him, angry because they had to forfeit a dart game, apparently because they were too drunk to play.

"It's has nothing to do with sober or not," the buddy said. "Nothing to do with sober or not."

He decided to pay his tab.

"How many beers have I had?" the buddy asked the bartender.

"Ten beers. You've had ten beers," the bartender responded. "And the cheese sticks."

We hadn't had close to ten beers, but after that crew left, we decided to pay our tab and head out, too. The whole strip of Washington seemed empty when we left, perhaps more so because of the foggy drizzle coming down outside.

We're not sure when the cops saw us, but just a few minutes after leaving Dark Horse, we were standing in a gas station parking lot with a police officer shining a light in our eyes. After one of the tests, he handed back our license and told us to be more careful with our driving.

So we left.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight