If we're not too late, we did a bit of planning recently for the best St. Patrick's Day spot. We knew the Cashew would draw a crowd on KC's favorite day to drink, so we made a pair of scouting trips recently to that great downtown watering hole.
On a recent Saturday night, we sat at a high-top table with Research Assistants John and Cece and ordered a $4.75 Boulevard Wheat before we noticed that the bar also serves Smithwick's and Guinness on tap.
Upstairs, we liked the spaciousness of the main room, which features two walls of garage-door-style windows. The smaller side room with the fireplace and leather sofas was charming, too, despite the paintings of naked women with weird rubbery limbs. We suppose that's somewhat of an improvement over the Charlie Podrebarac paintings on the Cashew's walls, which feature Far Side-ish characters that don't really fit the vibe of the place.
We tried to plot a way to secure some window real estate for the St. Patrick's Day parade. But we learned that it would involve lining up way before the bar's 8 a.m. opening time and obtaining tickets (free in advance or $5 on the day). Last year, the place filled by 8:10. We decided we'd rather sleep in. We're usually more about the postparade drinking anyway. At the Cashew, the Licks a Rolling Stones cover band performs from 2 to 6 p.m., by which time we will have passed out ourselves.
On the jukebox, someone had punched in quite the random assortment of songs. "Footloose" inspired a woman to get up and dance while her amused friends videotaped her. Kenny Loggins was soon followed by Starship's "We Built This City," which Blender magazine has named worst song ever.
As we got into our air-synthesizer moves, in walked a group sporting fuzzy, pastel-colored bunny ears. The drove of rabbits livened up the room as they ordered Jäger shots to celebrate the 21st birthday of one bunny named Katie.
We found out that they'd bought the ears on a whim earlier that day at Sprawl-Mart. They also told us that they all met while attending the University of Colorado. Many of them were lured to the Midwest thanks to natives Katie and her brother, David.
Naturally, the ears helped in the ice-breaking process. Within 15 minutes of entering the bar, several people had asked about their accessories. "A lot of people think it's a VIP thing, and they want to be involved in that," said 21-year-old Jamie.
"Some people in the group love the attention," said 22-year-old Jack, gesturing toward a couple of the women. He also got some of his own semi-sordid attention: Some swingers tried to pick him up. The female half of the couple asked him if he was in Playgirl. He thought she was joking, but apparently, she seemed enthralled by him and asked what he was doing later. After their chat, she went back to her BF.
So, guys, what's your bunny name? Flopsy? Mopsy? They looked at one another, aghast that they hadn't come up with one beforehand.
"LaToya!" piped up a guy named Kyle, who was clad in a black polo shirt with a red clip-on tie. David mysteriously volunteered "Cervix." A guy named Wyan wanted "Grundle."
"I'm Krystal Wabbit," Jamie announced. "Every girl knows it's the most popular vibrator on the market. It's not the most advanced, but it's good for beginners." Product placement now complete, we moved on while the rabbits tried to motivate themselves to head to Westport.
We started chatting with two guys who were sitting alone at a long table while their buddies flitted about. Thomas and Ben have been best friends since middle school in Wichita. For the two 25-year-olds, every topic inexplicably leads back to KU basketball. Because we're kind of sick of the nonstop Big 12 talk, we steered the conversation to their St. Patrick's Day memories.
"Well, last year, KU played and got beat in the first round. That was the worst," Thomas said.
"I was in Ireland. I thought it would be fun, but it's a normal day," Ben drawled. He told of drinking in a plaza in Dublin, eating potatoes and corned beef. And the KU B-ball connection? Wait for it. Wait for it. "And I saw a kid there wearing a KU jersey." Yes!
On that note, we slipped out. But we returned on a Wednesday with the same RAs. We set up downstairs near the cool Lite-Brite liquor bottle display behind the bar. We noticed a younger-seeming crowd filtering up the stairs, so we followed the tube-top trail.
That's where we met a trio of guys who knew one another through the transitive property of friendship. Marquel and Michael went to grad school together at Missouri State, and Michael and Jason went to undergrad at Baptist Bible College. Michael was visiting from his new home in Washington, D.C. The visit called for a midweek drink.
Jason, a dark-haired 27-year-old, said he had just found out that he's half-Irish. His sister was researching the family's history and discovered that some relatives came over from Ireland three generations ago. He's also half-Thai, so we suppose that makes him Thai-rish. Anyway, he also said his grandparents got married on St. Patrick's Day and were together for 53 years.
"It's great luck of the Irish to get married on St. Paddy's Day," he said, before turning to Michael and saying, "Top that, sucker!"
Neither Michael nor Marquel could. Neither could we. Honestly, we're more about topping off our drinks, and we suspect that we'll be doing plenty of that Saturday