Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Opener

As many of you may know, the Fishing Opener in Minnesota is a big deal. I usually go back every year, primarily just to hang out with my friends at Brokeback Cabin. The year I actually hit my 1000 bars I didn't go back because the friend Jerry canceled so he could help his daughter move back home from her dormitory when school let out. That is why some of the bars you see here weren't included back then.

My trip started, where it often does, in an airport bar. In this case it was Shannon's at JFK.


It looked promising enough and, I wonder why, I thought I might be able to get a nicely poured Guinness for brunch. It was almost 10:00 AM, after all.

Faux Guinness

Well, there was no brunch Guinness to be had. I was informed that the bar didn't open until 3:00 PM. When I asked why, using a bit of Monty Python logic, I was told "just look, no customers." Well, duh, the bar isn't open. Why would there be customers. However, even though the bar wasn't open, you could buy a beer from a nearby cooler, carry it over to the one person working at Shannon's, pay for it and then sit down at the bar to drink it.

Pseudo Bar

Making Do

For this privilege I was only charged $6.38 for my beer.

Things got better on the trip of to Jerry's cabin though. Although not everyone going up rode together (there were nine of us) I am sure that most of those coming up from Minneapolis stopped at The Muni. A few people came down from more northern cities; International Falls, Ely, and Brainerd.

Hinckley Firehouse (AKA The Muni) and Rico

This is a great old bar typical of those you find as you head up north in Minnesota. It also has an attached liquor store so we generally stock up on supplies here as well. They make a dynamite Bloody Mary served with a snert, or snit, or whatever you want to call it. Just a small beer, really, but is the perfect touch. The bartender, Mary, is a gem and keeps us apprised of who of our group has already passed through. After as many years as we have been going up there for the opener (except for one year, that I may have mentioned) she knows us all by name, and probably by smell.

Barman and Mary

Our final stop before actually getting to Brokeback Cabin is traditionally The Blue Max.

A Welcoming Sign

Despite what the sign says, we didn't enter the Karaoke Contest. Everyone wanted to sing soprano.

The sign on the door is a bit more indicative of what you might expect to find inside than the one on the pole.

Enter At Your Own Risk

My buddy Rico and I got off to a bit of a late start (he had to wash his car before we left) so by the time we got to the Blue Max almost everyone was already there. For me, who doesn't get back to Minnesota too often, this is like a great reunion and a great tradition, one that has been going on unbroken (except for that one year) since, I believe, 1981.

I settled in and ordered a Blue Moon and was then ridiculed by most of my friends who were drinking more manly beers like Bud Lite. Of course I had to add a slice of lemon just to provoke the crowd.

Barman, Blue Moon, and Lemon

Considering that Blue Moon recommends you drink it with a slice of orange, I thought I was pushing the edginess envelope.

Blue Moon with a Slice of Orange, Not

Blue Moon is made in the Belgian style, but it is made by Coors so if they recommended you add maple syrup I wouldn't be terribly surprised. At least they don't make a big deal of saying "Man Rules" prohibit you from "fruiting your beer" like Miller does (which sells Chill, a beer with lime flavoring added).

After we all had a couple of drinks (except for the designated drivers, of course) we headed down the road a bit to Brokeback Cabin for the rest of the weekend. I will be posting more on that tomorrow but, in the meantime, here is a preview.

Brokeback Cabin

Be sure to check back for the rest of the story.