You may recall a few months ago when I mentioned that, out of my excitement for the release of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End on August 23 (my birthday!), I was planning on a massive pub crawl to celebrate. You can find all of the details here. That day has arrived. As it turned out, it worked best for all of us to travel to Madison for a pub crawl on Monday instead of the day the movie came out. This way, we’ll all be sober when we actually see The World’s End. The spirit of the pub crawl lives on, mirroring the film- a group of friends reunite to relive their halcyon days of drunken debauchery. Here are all of the details of where we’ll be, and you can follow along as I’ll be live-tweeting our crawl until I lose motor control. And if you’re in Madison and following along, come join us.
First, here’s a map of Madison and all of our locations.
There are four crawlers, plus a designated driver- my wonderful niece, Katie, who’s going to hear a lot of horrible/fun things about her uncle today. The crawlers are Jeff, aka “Lightweight”; Ashley, aka “Ash” or “Crashley”; a member who has asked not to be named and shall henceforth be known as “Boner”; and yours truly, “LaRue” or “Brew”. Jeff, Boner, and I all went to Westminster College in Missouri, and all three somehow ended up in Madison, Wisconsin together after college was over. That’s where Jeff met Ashley, and married her.
Our goal is to have at least one drink (at least a pint, if not some sort of boozier concoction) at each location, with each location a nod to the places that we used to haunt in the late 90s. Somewhere in here, I’m also going to try to have an Edgar Wrightini. As for the bars, there are 12 bars, just like in the film.
JJ’s Bavarian (aka JJ’s Top of the Swamp)
A complication arose after we planned the crawl. We discovered that several of our old boozy hangouts were under new ownership or, worse, had gone out of business. JJ’s is one of those, having closed just in the last year. Thankfully, the new bar- Murphy’s Bar- is up and running at the old location. I have no idea what to expect from the new place, but the old JJ’s was a glorious dive. It was right next to a swamp (ergo the name), and was the most Wisconsiniest tavern you could imagine, complete with mounted deer heads and turkeys on the wall.
The Villa Tap
When we were all together in Madison, I worked in minor league baseball. The best and closest bar to our ballpark was the Villa Tap. After the games were over, the players and fans and anyone associated with the team would head on over to the Villa, which was very friendly to the team. And I’d join them as soon as I wrapped up the post-game press release. To give you an idea how long ago this was, I faxed the press release to all of the media outlets after the games.
The Muskie Lounge
The Muskie is another place that has changed hands since our glory days. It used to be a weekly Sunday visit for Lightweight and me. We’d watch the Simpsons, then head off to the Muskie for beer and darts. The location is amazing, offering a tremendous view of Lake Monona. But the interior was anything but scenic, with ratty, torn carpet, stains galore, and a raucous clientele. In other words, it was just our speed. Sadly, it has since become the Bourbon Street Grille. When management of the new place found out about our crawl, let’s just say they were less than friendly. But even with a new name and not-so-friendly management, this pub crawl wouldn’t be right without a visit from the Ghost of Muskie Past.
Tony Frank’s Tavern
Tony Frank’s is now Schneid’s, but the “Schneid” in Schneid’s is the former manager of Tony Frank’s. Tony Frank’s was just around the corner from where we lived. The most notable event at Tony Frank’s for us came the night of one of our 21st birthdays (I’m not naming names). After a long night of boozing, the birthday boy excused himself to go to the bathroom, just around the corner from us but out of sight. The rest of us heard a very faint “BLARRRGH” and then the sound of… things… splattering against a door. Then the birthday boy returned and said, “We gotta go.” It’s one of my favorite Madison stories.
Our concession here is that the bar has moved from its original location. Babe’s wasn’t exactly a place for TOO much chicanery, at least not anything I would tell in this article. It was, however, our go-to place for lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoons drinking and watching football and baseball games. It’s the bar where Ashley and I saw Ron Dayne break the NCAA rushing record, and also where Lightweight and I saw Mark McGwire break the homerun record in 1998.
Yet again, this is a bar that’s under new ownership. It’s now known as the Vintage Brewing Company, and I’ve heard great things about the new place. It saw its share of action from us as Whitney’s. One particular New Year’s Eve saw us party there, break pint glasses (on accident), and then share a cab home with the bus boy. Another time, a few of us went to a beer festival and took a shuttle from Whitney’s. By the time we returned from six hours of unlimited drinking, we were in horrible shape. Ultimately, we were asked to leave, albeit politely.
Aaaand here’s another concession. The original plan called for Café Montmartre, a place where we’d drink absurd amounts and then babble about our writing. But Café Mo is no mo. Our substitution is La Hacienda, a place that often served as a launching point for us for pre-partying. We’d go there, get a decent meal and some tequila in us, and then head elsewhere. We wish it could be Café Mo, but we love Hacienda too. It’s a decent substitution.
It was known simply as “Buck’s on the Square” when we lived there, and it was located close to Madison’s capitol square. It has since moved but it’s too much of a Madison institution to have changed too much. The logo was brilliant- a drunk, stick figure businessman with x’ed out eyes, passed out in a martini glass. And the logo did not misrepresent the experience. Buck’s is the bar where we would actually barter with the bartenders. As young kids just out of college, we had almost no money. The discussion would usually begin with us saying, “Ok, we have $10 and we want a pitcher and two shots. What can we get?” And this magical beer utopia would take care of us every single time. Buck’s is also the place where we once (maybe twice?) got drunk with a homeless guy.
The Great Dane Pub
The Dane is closed today for their employee party. They’re closed two days a year, and it just so happens that today is one of them. Big time kudos to the management of the Dane for letting us know in advance and trying to work with us. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out. But we still love the Dane so much that our solution is to go to the bar across the street from the Dane and drink the Dane’s beer sold on tap. As long as they get money from us, and we get their product, all will be right with the crawl. The best story that I can tell about the Dane involves a lot of barleywine, a taco lost (and later found) in the car on the way home, and a ruined carpet. That would be yours truly responsible for that havoc.
The Essen Haus
I feel like I should write a thank you letter to the Essen Haus for all the good times I’ve had drinking delicious German beer from their gigantic glass boots. Instead, they’ll have to settle for us returning home as prodigal sons and daughters to enjoy their atmosphere yet again. It’s a classic German beer hall, complete with staff wearing lederhosen and folks drinking out of hefty beer steins. You can tell me that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I’d know you’re lying. It’s the Essen Haus. And yes, we will be drinking from the glass boots today.
One of the best days of my life involved Jolly Bob’s. A massive snowstorm hit the upper midwest (including, obviously, Madison), and sent the city into chaos. You know a snowstorm is serious when Wisconsinites are worried. We didn’t want to be intimidated by the storm. Instead, we went to Jolly Bob’s, primarily a rum bar with some awesome food. They were one of a handful of places that were even open, but they catered to our dumb drunk asses just before they shut down their business for the day. We now affectionally refer to that whole weekend as “Whiskeyfest ’99″ because, snowed in, we didn’t have much else to do but drink whiskey. But Whiskeyfest had one minor break for rum thanks to Jolly Bob’s.
The Nitty Gritty
Our crawl concludes at the Nitty Gritty, known as Madison’s “birthday bar” because they offer free drinks all day to birthday boys and girls. Hopefully we’re still standing by the time we get here, and we don’t encounter any evil robotic pod people. In the parlance of the film’s trailer, we are going to get to the Nitty Gritty if it kills us. We’ve all had good times there, and yes- almost always on birthdays.
We’ve had shirts made for the event. You can see how they look here. And, the crawl even has the Edgar Wright stamp of approval:
And he offered some words of wisdom about potentially troublesome, cataclysmic locations:
Moreover, the folks at Focus Features have sent us some promotional goods for the crawl. Unfortunately, the goods won’t arrive in time before I leave town for Madison. But it was important for me to say thanks to them for doing that, because it was really, really cool. Rest assured, Focus, we will be promoting the tar out of this movie (and the whole Cornetto trilogy) in every way possible on the crawl.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some drinking to do.