Located on Martini Corner, in the building just east of the Velvet Dog, Sol Cantina is a fairly cool addition to the neighborhood. Its concept is brilliantly simple: Take a space with concrete floors, add glass garage-style doors at the front and back, build a big rectangular bar in the middle, throw in a couple of flat-screen TVs, and that's it. Just add water or froufrou drinks and voila! Sea Monkeys! Um, we mean, bar!
We paid a visit on a recent Saturday night during opening weekend with a couple of research assistants and stumbled upon a fairly packed house. We snaked our way through the crowd and headed for the back deck. The sporadically rainy, somewhat chilly night left the deck to us. As we huddled under the thatched overhang of the tiki bar, we studied the index-card-sized drink menu. Or, at least, we tried to sadly, the tiki bar lacked lights. Using a nearby heat lamp for illumination, we managed to discover the frozen drinks. Now, nothing makes us happier than a nice, alcohol-laden slushee. Outdoor drinking is infinitely more sublime with girl-drink drunkenness.
The friendly bartender recommended that we try the Pain in the Ass, a $6 heady mix of piña colada and rum runner. Because the back bar doesn't serve frozen drinks, the bartender ran inside to get it and returned with a plastic cup that contained two vertical stripes of each drink. Our verdict? We were all about the Pain. After half a cup, the Night Ranger had a pretty good buzz going and feared that she was going to adopt some girl-drink-drunk characteristics, such as the urge to don a tube top but no coat in 50-degree weather.
Thankfully, we blended in with the other girl-drink drunks. They made up the majority of the crowd, but the bar seemed to attract quite a mix. We had the white girl group sporting leis, the black girl group in denim jackets, the pretty boy band and, best of all, a woman with two puppies. Not sweater puppies but actual white dogs and not of the yippy variety. She held them in her lap as she perched on a bar stool. Unfortunately, she left before we could go touch 'em and ask: um, why? As random bar accessories go, we're now inspired to buy a hedgehog and tote it around on Night Ranger missions. Or a jar of Sea Monkeys, though we'd probably accidentally drink it while lit. ("Ooh ... shrimpy vodka!")
Instead, we started to wander around and soon met one guy who felt compelled to share his own accessory. The 28-year-old was the only guy in the place sporting a pink oxford shirt, which he paired with aviator sunglasses, light-brown quasi-manpris (the male capri pant; his ended just around his ankles), a chain-linked wallet, and white loafers sans socks. Just minutes into our conversation, he proclaimed, "I've got a black-sized white cock. Want to see it?"
Um, OK, we replied, in an effort to push limits and instigate shit. Seeing random dick really holds no appeal for us. As we've said before, there's a reason that Playgirl didn't catch on. We didn't think he'd really do it, so we were shocked when, after a pause, we looked down and ... ewww the tip was sticking out of his fly. It was gone a couple of seconds later. Nonetheless, we were totally skeezed out. Why did he do it?
"I told you I would. I'm a man of my word," was his response. To which we mentally replaced the word man with smarmy asshole. He further confirmed this impression by telling us that he was rich. He supposedly owns two companies. Then he asked if we had any Xanax. "I love Xanax," he said. Well, we like guys of a higher caliber if you know what we mean. Then again, it was cold that night.
We fled that scene. As we left, we heard his friends (who, we think, missed the show) chastising him for speaking to the Night Ranger. Apparently, we had mocked one of his friends once for wearing a thumb ring, and the man had never forgotten that slight. "You are so stupid!" they told him. We left the bar soon afterward, feeling all creeped out.
We went back to the bar a week later, though, to see if the atmosphere would be dickless. Again, we ended up paying a visit on a rainy night. We were pleased to see that the place was less crowded. The vibe was very laid-back, with less Velvet Dog overflow. People clustered in small groups and kept to themselves.
We circled the bar and spotted a friendly-looking group, which consisted in part of 29-year-old Misty, resplendent in a sequined tank top; 28-year-old Brett, who was out celebrating his birthday ("In 20 minutes, I'll be 29 come back then," he said); and 21-year-old Jessica, who was visiting from Chicago. She came to town to participate in the Crawl for Cancer, which was taking place the next day. We've long been fascinated with this charity bar crawl, which requires participants to team up and slam pitchers of beer. We asked if they had any tips on how to avoid passing out midcrawl in a Westport gutter.
"There is no secret. It's just luck," said Brett, a veteran crawler. Misty added that being Irish and stocking your team with heavy drinkers also helped. Brett then shared some of the horror stories from past pub crawls. One time, he said, he woke up without his wallet. He didn't realize that it was missing until the following Monday, and by the time he called his bank, someone had bought $4,000 worth of stuff.
"That was the best pub crawl ever," Misty joked.
Another time, he said he blacked out for five or six hours and was operating on autopilot. When he developed the film from that day, he discovered that he had taken 20 pictures in 15 minutes. Only one person in those pictures looked familiar to him.
Ah, the drunken point-and-shoot. We've been there before. Thankfully, our experience with that has been limited to cameras and not any other, ahem, appendages. So, on that note, we left, and hoped that any future visit to Sol Cantina would be more about the deck than the dicks.