The old standby: drinking

By Lawrence Bailey

Citizens of the University of Calgary are notorious drunks. We’re not talking belligerent, semi-humourous, Winston Churchill/Ralph Klein alcoholics here, they are full-fledged Hunter S. Thompsons. So buckle up kids, and prepare yourselves for some fear and loathing.

There have been a number of battles in years past between the jovial revellers loosely referred to as "students" and the vicious overlords, spitefully dubbed the "regime" or the "administration." There was even a movement afoot to make the U of C campus dry. The fear of mass retribution apparently led to an immediate about face on that one.

Still, the number of on campus establishments licensed to dole out the nectar of the gods to all students is limited. To be precise, there is one: the Den/Black Lounge. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can drink at the Grad Lounge, but not everyone can get in, so it doesn’t apply to the masses.

Colloquially known as simply "the Den" due to a previous incarnation that was much dirtier and a lot less shiny, the university’s lone watering hole is perfectly located at the campus’ epicenter and it possesses a strange, seemingly magnetic pull.

Now, the Den is a strange beast. It is simultaneously a pub, a club and a restaurant, and one of the biggest mistakes many newcomers and/or visitors to campus make is assume it is one of the three at any given time. No, the service will not always be what you expect from a restaurant during the lunch rush, but damn it, if you sit there long enough it will fill with beautiful people and drink specials so don’t bitch. Can you serve three purposes simultaneously and do so at the absolute peak of your abilities at all times? Didn’t think so, now stop being so demanding.

One of the Den’s most redeeming aspects is its staff. Need to know something about the university. Ask them. Aside from a handful of socially inept, drunken, seven-year undergraduate student journalists, they’ve spent more time here than anyone else. And to top it off, they’ve seen damn near everyone at their worst. If you are friendly and you tip well (by well I mean 15 per cent and up), staff will remember and love you for the duration of your university career. Stiff them and they’ll remember even better, and they’ll make sure you get yours.

An aside: You might be thinking this whole university is a four and out proposition but you’re wrong. Start asking around, no one finishes in four years. Ask a little more and you’ll quickly learn that the campus bartender is your best friend, just like the secretaries were in high school.

In the event the Den doesn’t take to you, or you don’t take to the Den, there are a handful of walking distance options available to the thirsty student. One such place is the Kilkenny pub at Brentwood Mall. A fine selection of draft beers await you should you make the journey, and their Monday night wing nights are very popular, and for good reason.

Moose McGuire’s is another haunt oft-frequented by the university set. A bit pricier than the Den, although most places are, Moose’s more than makes up for it with great food (try the ribs, you’ll see what I mean) and all the free peanuts you can eat. Yes, you heard me, peanuts, like for elephants.

The last means of drinking on campus is one of my favorites. Drink in your damn rez room! Well, there or in someone else’s rez room should you not have one or should you have a dud of a roommate. The upside to this option is it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, a hell of a lot more comfortable, however unless you know rafts of cute boys/girls, they will be sorely lacking from this approach to drinking on campus.

No matter the venue, the poison is the same and I’m sure each and every one of you will find your spot. That’s the joy of post-secondary, discovering a whole new world, n’est pas?

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