That's what we discovered at Sharp's 63rd Street Grill, which just debuted its Tour de Tini, in which 36 varieties of martinis represent 17 U.S. cities. If you drink all 36 in a year, you get a T-shirt. (If you're like us and can drink all 36 in a month, well, you just get the satisfaction of a job well done.) As extra motivation, on Fridays the martinis are $5 instead of the usual $7.25. On a recent Friday night, we headed over for the Tour de Tini kickoff party with Research Assistants Erik and Cece, eager to check it out.
The only times we'd visited Sharp's before were for Sunday morning breakfasts, where tasty pancakes and coffee soothed our hung-over state. So when we heard that its bar draws a lively crowd on weekend nights, we were intrigued especially because the nighttime atmosphere had been likened to that of a high school cafeteria for the drama and tension that sometimes occur among its regulars. And hey, we're all about reliving that high school experience as long as it's not our own.
The drama seemed to be on hiatus the night we visited, so we consoled ourselves with alcohol. The bar area, located in the back of the restaurant, was a smallish, warm space. Harley-Davidson paraphernalia and metal panels covered the red walls, and the brown tin ceiling was dotted with yellow and green balloons for the kickoff shindig. RA Erik admired what he dubbed the barchitecture the wooden, mirrored shelves that held the liquor bottles.
We soon had the bartenders emptying those shelves. After perusing the menu, we ordered a Red Eyetini, which represented Seattle. That was our favorite; the coffee-flavored libation was served with three coffee beans floating on top. Maui's Pineapple Upside Down Caketini also was delicious, but Miami's Mojitotini was a disappointment too much alcohol, not enough mint. (Yes, we know that saying "too much alcohol" is an aberration in the Night Ranger universe, but when you have to keep open flames away from your mouth afterward, that's a problem.) KC's five drinks were all named after bartenders at Sharp's, and though we really wanted to support our hometown cocktail shakers, we weren't really in the mood for an apple martini or any of the other concoctions.
The drinks certainly had an effect on the crowd, which became more jovial as the night went on. It consisted mainly of Brookside locals in their thirties and forties. Yes, the gay contingent was strong, but Sharp's also drew a pretty mixed group. We decided to get to know our fellow lushes better and ask for stories of anti-love, in honor of the upcoming faux holiday.
In the front, we ran into Stephen, a cute Sharp's waiter. (When asked his age, he said: "I generally put it in months. I'm 442 months old right now.") His story of love loss was capital-C crazy: An ex once threw a dining room table at him. "I know. I was amazed myself. It was a regular dining-room-sized table. He broke one of the chairs and left a dent in the door. And that was the end of that," he said, matter-of-factly.
Next up: 30-year-old Ryan and 23-year-old Alexis, who met as volunteers at Late Night Theatre. After chatting about LNT's upcoming productions, we asked for stories about bad breakups or psycho exes.
"Meet my friend Alexis. Do you have an hour or two?" Ryan quipped.
"A couple of days might be better," Alexis replied. She told us about a guy she dated a few years back. On their first date, he told her, "If we ever break up, I'm moving back to St. Louis." She also lived in a place where the bedroom window was at street level, and he told her during the early phase, "If I'm ever lonely at night, I'll come knock on your bedroom window."
"At that point, I thought, 'Awww. That's kind of cute,'" Alexis said. They eventually broke up, and true to his promise, he moved back to St. Louis. A couple of weeks later, at 3:30 in the morning, she heard a knock on her window. She freaked out and hid under the covers. She heard his loud-ass car drive away 20 minutes later. "I tend to make all the wrong decisions about men," she concluded.
"Can you capitalize, italicize and underline wrong?" Ryan asked. "And, by wrong, I mean really wrong." Hell, for Ryan, we'll even throw in a boldface: Wrong. We're fontastic like that.
Alexis also told us about a guy who, two weeks into hanging out, brought up The Talk. He called her at 1 a.m., hung-over, and said, "If we're not going to sleep together, we need to move on."
"We hadn't gone out on one date in public," Alexis said. "So I moved on ... to his best friend." Ah, we're well familiar with the best-friend-rebound layup. And, yes, we're figuratively capitalizing, italicizing and underlining lay.
We did manage to find someone who was happily coupled up. We spotted 38-year-old Michael sitting by himself at a table while his boyfriend was at the bar. He was out celebrating his birthday and was having a wonderful day. Wesley, his BF, had sent him multicolored Gerber daisies at work, then they had dinner at Le Fou Frog. We didn't want to remind him of bad memories on his birthday, but we had to ask: Did he have any stories of love gone awry that he wanted to share?
Five years ago, he said, he dated a guy who was in a traveling production of Fame The Musical. They met when it came to town, and for seven months, Michael would visit him in different cities. The guy led Michael to believe that he'd move to KC to be with him. "He played me along," Michael said. "He decided not to move back after all. He dumped me through e-mail right before Christmas." So cold! But things seemed to have turned out well, as they usually do. Michael eventually met Wesley on gay.com, and this April is their three-year anniversary.
Then he sent some love to the NR. "You're Jen Chen," Michael exclaimed again. "I peed a little when I found out it was you!" Wesley told us that about a month ago at Sharp's, Michael even went up to a woman and asked if she was the NR.
"She was all over the place," Michael said. Hmm ... Night Ranger doppelgänger? We'll be keeping an eye out for our evil twin.
Because Sharp's has a 1:30 a.m. license, things started dying down not long after midnight, so we packed up and headed over to the seriously fratastic duderfest that is Charlie Hooper's. As we walked over, we laughed hysterically at a giant vomit splotch on the sidewalk. "Hey, who ordered the chocolate barftini?" RA Erik asked.
Ugh. That's so not a happy ending for some poor drunkard, but that's what happens sometimes with martini-mania.