My Corvallis Bar Crawl

SquirrelsIt’s 2:07 p.m. and I’m wearing Cookie Monster pajamas. No, I’m not planning a trip to Wal-Mart, I’m hard at work, recovering from a trip down Corvallis’ yellow brick road. In typical fashion, the bar scene in this city is as diverse as everything else—something to offer anyone looking for a night, afternoon, or… well, morning out. A while back we ran a piece detailing how to get around with maximum college student avoidance, but the spiritual journey I’m about to share transcends such labels and peers deeply into the heart of—oh, I don’t know, somethin’ or other. Headache.

Around 10 p.m., I left my humble home on foot—safety first—and headed down 9th Street, first arriving at Harrison’s Bar & Grill. As I walked in, a young woman prophetically exclaimed, “Oh my God, this is my first time at Harrison’s!” At first glance, this bar is a bit loud and sportsy, this particular evening being permeated with the sound of Top 40 karaoke. Admittedly not my scene, however the demographic was wide, perhaps due to the bar being located on the border of downtown, and inviting the sort of crowd that just wants to have a good time without context. Sometimes that can be a dream come true, even for pretentious folks like me. I ordered a “cheapest, most disgusting shot of whiskey [they] have” and $3.50 later, made my exit.

Crowbar was next, only taking a few L-shaped or diagonal strides. Tucked in behind American Dream, the bar is typically full of locals, James Brown on the sound system. The crowd is definitely more “alt” than other bars in town. Probably the best selection of cocktails within an hour’s drive in any direction, their drink menu is resoundingly fantastic and I helped myself to a $4 happy hour Kamikaze and a $6 “Three Sheets” Long Island. In addition to that goodness, they also carry a handful of local beers from Sky High, Mazama, and 2Towns. Oh, and did I mention you can order American Dream pizza from the bar? No time for the old pizza in n’ out, though. I had just come to read the meter.

Nicole Garrett and Jordan Long Dong Fong at the PeacockOn to the Downward Dog—this riverfront bar oozes class. No, seriously, there were like four people in there with suits on. Like Crowbar, this joint has a great selection of original cocktails. I ordered a $6 “Frisky Dingo” and chased it with a $6.25 shot of Fernet Branca. Apparently it has taken just seven years to be able to drink the stuff again after… the incident. Although Downward Dog is really swanky, super clean and all that jazz… it’s pretty much approachable by anyone. That said, I had gotten a little too comfortable in my seat and decided it was time to go. Strange, it had dropped almost 10 degrees outside, yet I was feeling warmer.

I had planned on next sweeping by a sort of upper class bar just down the street, 101, but it turns out they close at midnight on weekends, and 10 p.m. on weekdays. I’ve been in there before and it’s really nice, if a bit pricey, but closing at midnight? That seems illegal. I’ll be making a call to local law enforcement.

Squirrel’s came next, where I let everyone within a 10- to 15-foot radius know that I was chugging my beer with the exclamation, “I call on the powers of my ancestors!” A cash-only, zero liquor bar, Squirrel’s has a unique feel that’s perfect for pounding brews—and perhaps more so on the nights with live music. My choice was some kind of yummy pilsner, although at this point my notes started to get a bit shaky and that’s all I remember. Isn’t it enough for a beer to be good? Why do we always have to know their names?! Closing at 1 a.m., it’s noteworthy to mention that Squirrel’s plays very soothing “get the hell out” music. An appreciated beacon as my journey continued.

Seth Waddell and Mandy Brooks at CrowbarCrossing the street to my home in bar form, The Peacock was alive and crawling with people from every walk of life. Grabbing a bar stool, I ordered a Peacock original that I can’t name here because it’s obscene, and then a double shot of Hornitos… and then something else, but I had stopped writing things down at that point altogether. A friendly crew, a bit wild, a bit weird. This bar takes a lot of heat, but the rumors are largely unfounded. Sure, I’ve seen someone do a body shot there, but even in those cases it’s less gross and more like a free trip to the zoo. Talking with a guy sitting near me who was dressed half in drag, he said that The Peacock was the place to go because he could be himself and not feel judged. Granted, right afterward some guy in a blue shirt went on a rant about how his ex-wife somehow damaged his testicles.

When it was time to get the boot, I took off on foot and wound up walking all the way back home. The original plan was to call my beloved Hub Cab, but I found operating my phone to be rather difficult. A good long walk that wound up only feeling like two minutes wasn’t a bad end. And although this is my particular chosen route, that’s not to say you shouldn’t check out some of the places I didn’t go, such as Clodfelter’s up on campus, Dock 22 down on the riverfront, or Jack Okole’s downtown. Besides, if I had added three or more bars to the list and crammed them into my timeframe, right now you’d be reading about how half of these drinks tasted on their way back up.

by Johnny Beaver