The fall is all about football. But after the season is over, we turn our attention to hockey -- more specifically, to our beloved Colorado Avalanche. So when the playoffs started in April, we tried to find a bar where hockey fans gathered. We called around, searching in vain for a place that might show the games on CBC. We even called someone from NHL 21, the group that's trying to bring an NHL franchise to KC. Sadly, he knew of no big hockey hangout.
We decided to head to Minsky's in the City Market on a Thursday night when NBA and NHL playoff games would be showing simultaneously. With its good bar food and drinks, this has always been a choice place to watch a game -- but we'd been there only during the busy seasons of football and March Madness, when arriving early is key.
There wasn't a huge crowd on that particular Thursday night, which meant we had our pick of tables. We surveyed the large space, with its three levels of seating, and settled on the middle terrace level. From that vantage point, we had a prime view of three big screens and many smaller TVs hanging at various heights. The décor was less jocklike than normal sports bars (i.e., no huge, framed, autographed posters), but there were the requisite football jerseys drooping from hangers along the wall. We were especially amused by Jon Kitna's No. 7 Seahawks, which was sad for many reasons (and, incidentally, selling for $9.99 on eBay).
Most of the people in the bar seemed to be watching the Royals game on the big screen, and to toast the team's winning ways, we ordered drinks. First, though, we smirked at the menu category labeled "A little bit a' foo-foo," which unfortunately did not include drinks garnished with umbrellas -- just items like Zima, Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade.
"They should at least put O'Doul's under that," said Research Assistant Andrew.
We were also surprised that Minsky's offered a wine list. This caused RA Gina, a nonsports fan, a moment of consternation. "Would it be grossly inappropriate of me to order a glass of wine?" she asked.
"You'll look bourgeois, drinking wine with your back turned on sports," Andrew warned.
Undaunted, she ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon Riverside, about which she proclaimed: "Kind of tangy ... it's got punch."
Manager Mark Schurk told us that Minsky's offers "a lot of good wines" because its owner also owns Osteria El Centro and has a large personal collection.
We stuck with the standard screwdriver, which was pleasant, and then ordered amaretto sours just for the hell of it. Refreshingly, they were not syrupy sweet.
Schurk confirmed that football and March Madness are definitely the busy times, as is the summer concert series in the River Market. Friday happy hours also draw good crowds, and, of course, Minsky's has its regulars year-round for every sport. He even tipped us off that there are a lot of Detroit Red Wings fans in town and that the Minsky's up north (221 N.E. Barry Road) shows a lot of hockey.
But the lone hockey game on the air was of no interest to Mike, 26, who was watching the Celtics game because the "TV was more clear," or to David, 25, an Indiana native who was watching the Pacers game. Though Mike and David said they don't normally hang out downtown, they happened to be in the neighborhood and ambled in to kill some time before heading to Westport. They were eating pizza and nursing iced teas. "We got stoned earlier tonight," Mike explained. "If we drank, the beer would be wasted."
You mean wasted like the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings' $65 million payroll after they were swept by the Ducks during the first round? We totally understand. Though we suppose that, as Avs fans, we really shouldn't talk.