Gabe Ceniceros: Tucson’s hot dog king

I’ve been struggling with how to best describe Gabe Ceniceros for the start of this profile. And it took me a while to realize what the “problem” was. The bottom line is there aren’t many guys like him. If you make time to talk to this dude you’ll see right away that he’s got a natural charisma that never comes off as fake. He’s effortlessly cool without seeming aloof. He speaks with the heart of a poet without sounding pretentious. And he tells you what’s on his mind without a filter but never comes off like a dick. If you’ve spent any time around the Tucson craft beer scene in the last seven years you’ve likely met him and if you’ve met him you know exactly what I mean.

Gabe is the founder of The Blacktop Grill, a restaurant in Marana, AZ that opened in November 2020. But long before I sat with him on a patio sharing a beer outside of the building that was the culmination of a dream he’d been chasing for years, Gabe was parked outside of Tucson’s craft breweries making a name for himself selling nothing more than hot dogs and quesadillas from a tiny little food cart.

Opening your own restaurant is a hell of an achievement for anyone under normal circumstances. And doing it in the middle of a pandemic after starting out working on a grill that was literally as wide as your spread-out arms means Gabe has earned some bragging rights. But instead of singing his own praises and trying to come off like a total badass during my interview with him, the man never failed to stay humble. I was sitting across the table from the owner of a successful small business and the driving force behind a brand with a loyal customer base and a stellar reputation across all of Tucson. But even so, when I asked him when he learned to cook, he practically stopped me in my tracks with his answer.

“I’ve never cooked,” he said. “I grill.”

Photo by The Classy Alcoholic.

I FAILED A MILLION TIMES

Gabe is a lifelong desert-dweller who was born and raised in Yuma. He describes his father as a very hard worker who “did it all,” from church elder to social worker to auto parts salesman. But he makes it very clear that he means no disrespect to his dad when he pivoted to talking about how much he admired his mother’s work ethic. He is the eldest of six and told me about how his mom managed to get him and his siblings to school, help them with their homework, and give them plenty of time and attention while still managing to get herself a teaching degree. Watching her do all this shaped him into the kind of guy who doesn’t make excuses for himself and avoids complaining about his lot in life. When he says he learned to bust his ass because he didn’t want to let her down you can hear the reverence in his voice.

His path toward Tucson and to owning his own restaurant didn’t actually come through food but through music first. Gabe is also a singer-songwriter with a deep love of reggae and has been a making music since his time living in Yuma. In 2008 he was invited to play at a Tucson event called Club Crawl and fell in love with the town. He even met the woman who would eventually become his wife.

Gabe and I reminisced about how shitty and stabby downtown Tucson was back then. If you’re only familiar with the town as it stands today you’ll be surprised to hear that apart from Hotel Congress it used to be a dead zone with only a few crappy bars and restaurants that were burned down for the insurance money long ago. But even so Gabe decided to move to Tucson because he saw a lot of opportunity for growth; both personal and professional. The key to his success hasn’t just been hard work and drive. It’s also been his ability to look at a seed and immediately start planning on what to do with the flowers. And also luck. A shitload of crazy luck.

When I asked if music or food was his first passion I got a very Gabe-like answer.

“Creativity is my first passion. Music and food both fit into that.”

Somehow this guy always knew that he wanted to own his own business. He spent over 20 years working in restaurants but dreamed of the day he could be his own boss. Not that that was ever an easy or clear path for him.

“I failed a million times at starting a business,” he said as he recounted his attempts at creating a power washing company that never took flight. He tried to start a restaurant once before but he’s very happy that nothing came of it because he knows now that he wasn’t ready. The closest he got was a landscaping business that failed because he would show up late – or not at all – to jobs due to his frequent hangovers. “I got fired from a lot of lawns,” he admits. Which, hey, if anyone knows about being too hungover to finish a job it’s certainly me.

I asked where the food truck fit in amongst that graveyard of business ideas and Gabe recalled talking to the guy who ran a Sonoran-style hot dog cart back in Yuma. For those of you who don’t know what a Sonoran dog is, let me first say that I’m embarrassed by you and that you should immediately go get one after you’re done reading this article. Because it’s a hot dog that’s wrapped in bacon and topped with onion, tomato, beans and Jalapeño. And it’ll be one of the most delicious things you’ll ever eat. If you’re in Tucson all you have to do is drive around the poorer areas and look for a Mexican guy with a cart sitting off the side of the road. They’re pretty much everywhere. You don’t even have to speak Spanish. Just say “hot dog” and put up some fingers so they know how many you’re gonna want. Make sure you bring cash because most of them don’t take credit cards but, like, not a lot of cash because you don’t wanna make yourself a target in those neighborhoods. You’ll be fine though. Just don’t go out there super late and lock your doors really fast when you get back in the car.

Anyhoozle, Gabe would go visit his favorite hot dog vendor after playing gigs around town. And one day the guy told him that sometimes he sold up to 700 hot dogs in one weekend. Gabe’s jaw practically hit the floor and the thought of having a food truck of some sort never entirely left his mind after that. About seven years and a move across the state to Tucson later he got himself what he described as “a shitty little cart” that was practically held together by Band-Aids. At the time it was just another attempt to quit working for other people.

Photo by The Classy Alcoholic

The Blacktop Grill’s maiden voyage was in 2014 on the University of Arizona campus. And because he’s always had what he describes as “a hustler’s spirit” Gabe tends to find creative ways to do what he needs to do. He asked me if I knew the church that was right near one of the entryways to the college and I told him that I didn’t because I am a filthy degenerate. But apparently there was a particular church that, even though it was on campus, was considered private property and not affiliated with the university. So instead of asking the school for any kind of permit to set up the food truck he just had to get clearance from the church. So he’d make a donation and got to hang out slinging dogs all day. It was actually a great idea except for the fact that sales were shit back then.

“My first day I sold one hot dog,” he told me. “Then only two the next day.”

I was a bit surprised. I thought he would’ve crushed the game with a food truck that was easily accessible to drunk, stoned college students. I asked why sales were so bad and whether he thought it was due to racism. He said he realized pretty quickly that it was because college students were broke. I understood that seeing as how a hot dog would’ve definitely been a luxury for me during my poorest college years. But when I reminded him that the U of A has a lot of kids from rich families attending on mommy and daddy’s dime I triggered a memory of a guy he called his “favorite customer.”

He described a 19 year old kid who would drive up to the food truck in a $100,000 Porsche. He would park in a no-parking zone because of course he did. And whenever he showed up he would order twenty bucks worth of food, which was a huge sale for Gabe at the time. I’m guessing that kid grew up to be a senator somewhere voting for, like, anti-LGBT legislation and shit right now.

Whether it was due to racism or lack of funds (but probably racism) the hot dog sales at the university just weren’t cutting it. But instead of getting discouraged Gabe started to pound the pavement and continued trying to make connections. And thanks to a bit of that natural luck that seems to follow him around he hooked up with the place that would help him grow to the successful restaurant owner he is today: Dragoon Brewing Company.

Photo by The Foodie Bitch

THE BOOM

I still remember the first time I met Gabe several years ago at Tap & Bottle. It was at the downtown location because back then that was the only T&B location that existed. I was with my buddy David who was the assistant brewer for Borderlands Brewing Co. at the time. I had just recently started my blog and David insisted that I meet this “really cool guy” who set up his food truck at Borderlands occasionally. I was quite happy to introduce myself to a fellow brown man at a place that sold craft beer. He didn’t have much time to chat but I told him that I was trying to support local breweries and other small businesses. We followed each other on Instagram and he got back to work. I didn’t try his food that night, either because I had already eaten or because that was back before I was fat.

I’m not sure how much time passed before I actually tried a hot dog from The Blacktop Grill but I remember it was while having a drink at Borderlands one night. The thought of a dog and a beer sounded great. Hell, a lot of my dinners back then were a couple of 40s and a bunch of gas station hot dogs. (Holy shit y’all, I think I just realized how I got fat.) So I was a bit surprised when I saw the menu. It was short and simple with nothing more than hot dogs and quesadillas. But one of the dogs was described as having a sriracha honey coleslaw topping. I don’t know about you but I still don’t understand what we as a society did to deserve sriracha. And of course I was blown away by this dude’s southwestern-style gourmet dog.

I kept seeing this guy with his weird (in a good way) hot dogs at different breweries around town and I became another one of his regular customers. He seemed to have built a really good relationship with people in the craft beer industry. And it all started when he heard from someone that a new brewery called Dragoon was looking for food trucks.

Gabe introduced himself to the Dragoon team early on in their existence and says they welcomed him with open arms. Shortly after that there came a wave of other beer-centered businesses that he connected with. He started getting more work through word of mouth but insists that it wasn’t even the quality of the food that got him on the breweries’ good sides. He says it was just the fact that he showed up when he said he was going to. While other food truck vendors were flaking out he was the guy who never failed to be there.

It seems kind of weird at first but it’s very much like Gabe to take pride in telling me that there were several times that he stood out in the rain for hours outside of a business just to sell one hot dog. Because apart from making a sale it was also just as important for him to be the kind of guy that others could count on. That’s something that still holds true to this day. If he commits to being somewhere he will be there.

With that attitude it didn’t take long for The Blacktop Grill to start developing a loyal customer base. And it didn’t hurt that he moved to Tucson and started taking out the truck just as the city began to boom. The number of breweries and craft beer bars exploded. The streetcar was built and became fully operational. A whole bunch of new businesses opened up downtown and it was no longer the scary shithole it used to be. Gabe says the positive responses to his food started off small but never stopped. After several years of grinding he heard people telling him that Blacktop was their favorite food truck. And even through it all he still says that it started pretty much by accident.

When I asked why he focused on hot dogs and quesadillas only he said it was because he couldn’t do much more than that in his little cart. When he stuck to those two items it gave him the opportunity to try different styles of each. He experimented like crazy.

“We tried it all. You name it we tried it. I even tried a PB&J hot dog,” he told me, causing me to almost gag reflexively because peanut butter and jelly are really gross together and I don’t know how some of y’all grew up eating that bullshit.

I felt a little better about it when I asked if he actually attempted to sell that garbage to people and he said no. His experimental dogs were done at home and he tried to have a sense of quality control before he put anything on the menu. He made sure I knew that he takes everything he does seriously, even if it’s just a hot dog.

He credits Tucson’s breweries for giving him a platform and allowing him to reach a wider customer base. “It was a great relationship. They pumped me with beer and I pumped them with food.”  And his constant drive toward creativity allowed him to offer a menu that was different enough to stand out from the crowd. Gabe was never going to be just one other Mexican guy with a hot dog cart in a town full of them.

Not being one to rest on his laurels, he spent those years improving his recipes and expanding his menu as much as he could. It wasn’t a huge expansion given that he still had a very small workspace. But I remember the day that his dogs appeared to suddenly become twice as big as before and he told me that he made it a point to find a heftier weenie after he got some feedback from customers telling him that, while his dogs were delicious, there was more bun than actual dog. And then there was the release of El Elotero. A hot dog topped with roasted corn and cotija cheese that was better than any other hot dog I’ve had in Tucson. And I’ve had some amazing ones given that I’m always trying every Sonoran dog cart I can find because I’m not afraid of those parts of town because I always kinda wanna die. El Elotero has yet to be beat to this day as far as I’m concerned.

Photo by The Classy Alcoholic

And throughout it all Gabe still made time for his music. There were several times that he spent the first part of the night serving food at a brewery and the rest of it playing gigs around town with Los Streetlight Curb Players.

“Everything I do I love,” he said to me. “It’s not work.” And I know that on paper that sounds like total trite bullshit. And if I heard anyone else say that to me I’d roll my eyes and think, yeah whatever asshole, to myself but when you’re sitting in front of Gabe Ceniceros and hearing those words come out of his mouth you have no doubt that he means everything he says. You believe it because he truly believes it and I can’t help but admit that his optimism is pretty goddamn contagious.

Eventually he linked up with the UberEats app and was the first food truck in town to do so. I remember how excited I got several years ago on a weekend when I was on the couch either too hungover or already too drunk to go out to eat. I opened the app and saw Blacktop could be delivered to me while Gabe was serving outside of a brewery downtown. It was a new approach for him that seemed like it was paying off. He got an order sent to his tablet at the truck, had a driver come over to pick up the food, and he could continue to serve the customers in person. But of course he didn’t know just how crucial this delivery service would become in the year 2020 when everything changed.

THE RONA

I ran into Gabe in February of 2020 at Caps & Corks and was a bit surprised to see him. He and the truck weren’t out as often as they used to be and I hardly saw him at his usual downtown brewery haunts for what felt like months. I was a bit worried that he was pulling away from it all so I asked why he had been such a stranger lately. That’s when he told me that he’d been spending a lot of time working on opening a Blacktop brick and mortar location and asked me to keep it to myself for the time being. And I didn’t tell a soul but now I want to make sure y’all know that I knew about his restaurant long before most of you did. So I got my usual Elotero order and walked away excited and optimistic about what the future would bring for Gabe and for all of us. 2020 was gonna be our year alright!

Well. We needn’t rehash everything that happened just a few months later. Cut to some time in April after several weeks of me spending as much money as I could supporting local breweries and restaurants picking up to-go orders during the lockdown and encouraging others to do the same. I saw on Instagram that Gabe was still serving food out of his truck somewhere on the northwest side of town. I called in an order and drove out to whatever the address was. I honestly had no idea where I was going but by the end of the trip I realized I was at Gabe’s actual home and that he had the truck set up in front of his yard. It was so nice to see a familiar face after all that time in isolation. And the first thing I asked was if he ever signed anything for his brick and mortar location. Luckily he said he was able to put a pause on the whole deal before anything became official. The timing was nearly disastrous for him.

Photo by The Foodie Bitch

A year later I was sitting with him on the patio of that restaurant that almost never came to be, asking him what business was like during those lockdown months he spent serving from home. He said that sales slowed down, of course, but that he was still able to make a living. His neighbors, passersby, and even Fedex delivery drivers would stop by on their way through the neighborhood to check out what kind of food he was serving. And he also credited the delivery apps for keeping things afloat for him.

Since those apps started being used like crazy during the Rona times we’ve now learned that they all gouge businesses and leave restaurants with a very tiny portion of the profits. So I asked how he was able to keep making a living when those apps where taking such huge percentages for themselves. His face lit up and he answered, “Because I make quesadillas, bro!”

The lack of significant overhead for the food truck allowed Gabe to pay the bills when so many other businesses were clinging on for dear life. He admits that it wouldn’t have been as easy if he were selling barbecue or anything that was much more expensive than cheese, tortillas and weenies. And as we know there have been several places that didn’t make it. We lost too many local restaurants and bars last year in Tucson. But through it all it seemed like The Blacktop Grill was destined to succeed. And I want to make it clear that when I say Gabe has made it all this way with a certain amount of luck I don’t want that to diminish the hard work he’s put in. Obviously it wasn’t only luck that got him to where he is now. The man spent years struggling every day to make a name for himself. He’s clearly earned every ounce of his success with a mixture of hustle and foresight. But goddamn, there’s no denying this guy’s also a lucky sonofabitch in so many ways.

When the chance came to revisit the idea of the restaurant he was able to get a great deal on a lot due to the nature of doing business during the pandemic. And while he describes signing a contract for his own place as “nerve-wracking” he always fell back on his typical optimism. Even though he saw the same stories we all did about small businesses closing down he still knew he had to try and make a go of it. That vision of growth and opportunity that he saw in Tucson way back in 2008 was coming to fruition for him during one of the worst periods for the entire goddamn planet. But he’s never been a man to walk away from a challenge and he wasn’t going to start now.

“Everything worked in our favor,” he told me. “It’s like it was meant to be. We keep things simple and that’s our business model. We don’t need a lot to succeed.”

SUNSHINE

When I sat down for my interview with Gabe I decided that I wanted, more than anything, to paint a picture of the man in front of me. And I knew I would spend only a minimal amount of time in this profile talking about how good his food was. Because, seriously, there’s not a lot to say there. The food is really fucking good and you absolutely must try it. But that’s not the part of the story I wanted to tell. I wanted you to know what it feels like to talk to this dude. Because a cynical prick like me would typically roll my eyes at an eternal optimist like him. But Gabe has the power of sincerity and humility at his back and it’s enough to win over even an asshole like me.

He’s had his fair share of detractors. He told me about the people who used to try to bring him down by telling him that he was ridiculous for thinking he could make a living with his music or with a food truck. He was called “weenie man” by people making fun of him. But he didn’t let that slow him down. Because he believed in himself and in what he was doing. And finally achieving his dream of owning his own business and being his own boss proves he was right to do so.

So after this longass profile I’ll leave you with one last thing. It’s how I always remember Gabe and how I think I can distill him down to a single moment and a single sentence. I was at Borderlands Brewing Co. on a weekday night and he was out in their beer garden serving food. It was pretty dead in the bar so I went out to put in my hot dog order. Because he wasn’t very busy I took advantage and had a long conversation with him. I can’t remember the exact details of what I shared but I do know I was feeling a bit frustrated with the craft beer scene and my place in it.

Gabe understood exactly what I was saying because he was also building something for himself within the same industry. He talked about how people can default to constantly complaining about their situation in life and turn to tearing others down. He told me that he doesn’t spend too much time stressing about that and how he never saw other food trucks in town as competition. He went on about how he just saw an opportunity for people to learn from and support one another. And that’s when he said that one sentence that will always stick with me. He said the words that will always define Gabe Ceniceros in my mind. He said something that still makes me smile as I write this.

He said:

“There’s enough sunshine for everybody.”

Photo by The Foodie Bitch

The Red Lobster Dew Garita

If you know me, you know that I hate myself and that I kinda wanna die. So when the garbage seafood chain known as Red Lobster announced they were selling something called a Dew Garita, which is a margarita made with Mountain Dew, my first thought was, “Sure, fuck it, why not? I hate being alive anyway.” I already can’t resist booze in its purest form and it’s even harder to resist when it’s something as stupid as this. Plus I’ll do anything for a blog post. Now, I want to make it clear right off the bat that I DO NOT condone going to a Red Lobster establishment. I made a name for myself by supporting small businesses and avoiding chain restaurants and bars as much as possible. Sure, this might make me seem like a hypocrite but I already mentioned how much I hate myself so go ahead and add this onto the long list of reasons why.

I can’t remember the last time I was inside of a Red Lobster. Well, I mean, I vaguely remember drunkenly trying to have sex with a literal red lobster back in college. Also, chill out, animal activists, the thing was already cooked by that point. It didn’t matter how shithouse trashed I was, I wasn’t gonna risk those aggressive ball pinches. But I didn’t remember the last time I was inside one of the restaurants. I realized it was a haven for old-as-shit white people. I was serenaded on all sides by the sounds of cracking knees, racial slurs and those muffled taps from the rubber ends of canes hitting the floor.

I honestly don’t know if I had ever tried Mountain Dew before. I’m assuming I must have because of the many years I spent shoving absolute garbage into my face indiscriminately. I was once leaving a bar and got handed two Four Loko bottles (yeah, glass bottles for some reason) by a strange Mexican I had just met and I drank both of those bitches on my walk home. So I’m exactly the kind of trash person who must have had a Mountain Dew at some point in my life. But even so, I had no memory of it so I asked for a shot of straight Dew on the side so I could try it by itself first. 

In my mind Mountain Dew was always a bright green color. But seeing it up close I discovered it was really a weird mix of green and yellow, which reminded me of the exact color my pee took during that week I was doing an all-veggie smoothie diet to try and flush out the poison from my body. Drinking it was a strange experience. (I’m referring to the Mountain Dew, not my pee.) The soda was kind of tangy with an unnatural metallic flavor at the end. The word “unnatural” is key here because I’ve had plenty of metal objects consensually shoved into my mouth during sex stuff but it wasn’t a similar taste at all. Something like that couldn’t possibly exist in the world. It tasted like the feeling you get when staring into the dead eyes of a porcelain doll you found in the attic.

As a man who grew up in Houston, TX with easy access to amazing Cajun seafood for the entirety of my childhood, the very existence of Red Lobster offends me. It’s like listening to rap music when it’s being done by white people. But since I was already there I decided to order a meal called The Ultimate Feast, which had shrimp scampi, a lobster tail, snow crab legs, and fried shrimp. (1,070 calories? Fuck me.) I think this meal alone made me realize that I don’t need to have butter ever again.

And then came the star of the show. The Motherfucking Dew Garita. It’s supposed to be a super secret recipe but I saw my bartender pour Midori into the shit so, like, that’s basically the secret. She used red sugar on the rim of the glass and the Midori is what really gave it that super green, snot-like, radioactive-y color. Mixing soda and tequila is nothing new for me because I’ve been to movie theaters and have snuck in many of those tiny plastic bottles inside my butthole before I realized that the 16-year old movie theater employee wasn’t getting paid enough to pat me down so I could’ve just carried those things in my pocket if I wanted to spike my drinks while watching The Avengers or whatever.

The first sip of the Dew Garita wasn’t as bad as I expected. I mean, it wasn’t GOOD, but it wasn’t as disgusting as I had prepped for. I got the melon-y flavor of the Midori right up front and the red sugar rim gave it so much extra sweetness, it reminded me that my dad was a diabetic so this is probably the last thing I should be drinking. My dad was also a cocaine addict on top of that, which explains the total lack of self-control I inherited. 

And through those other flavors that strange, metallic taste from the Mountain Dew broke through. It was always lingering in the background like a glitch in The Matrix. Every sip made me feel like this world was not my own. Plus the red and green colors together made the whole thing taste like I was going down on a Roomba on Christmas morning. Everything in my mind and body and liver told me that I was making a mistake by drinking this. And I can’t even say that they were wrong. But hey, no matter what extra crap went into the drink there was still tequila there to make everything feel oddly familiar. So was this stupid Dew Garita worth it?

No, of course not. I’ve mixed tequila into all kinds of dumb stuff while sad drinking alone at home and I can’t think of a legitimate reason why you should go to a fucking Red Lobster restaurant ever. You can buy both Mountain Dew and tequila at a goddamn gas station so if you really want to experience this you can just mix them together and drink them on the couch. So essentially, I drank this Dew Garita so you wouldn’t have to. I rate the entire experience zero stars because an unfortunate side effect is that I’m probably going to live even longer now that I’m avoiding butter forever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to check my blood sugar because I think I may need to get my fucking foot cut off.

Salud!

Button Brew House’s 3 Year Anniversary Event

On Saturday, September 19th Button Brew House celebrated their third anniversary by hosting a semi-private event at the brewery. It wasn’t exactly a secret but it definitely wasn’t promoted either. Tickets were only offered and sold to their annual members, close friends of the brewery, and celebrities like me.

I’ve written before about how conflicted I am that things are starting to get back to “normal” during the current Rona pandemic while understanding that small businesses I love are struggling to survive. The bottom line is that I think being out and congregating is still a risk and that significant precautions should be taken. And if you want to argue with me about that then you can take that Facebook comment you’re working on and shove it right up your asshole because I couldn’t possibly care.

So local bars and restaurants are doing their best to continue operating through the new normal with reduced capacities, masks, social distancing, etc. But the Button anniversary celebration wasn’t just a typical day at the taproom. It was a special event with live music and a food truck onsite. And I’m here to tell you that not only was it a lot of fun, it was so meticulously organized that I and the people I spoke to all felt completely safe being there. Part of the reason I wanted to write about this is that it could serve as a blueprint for other breweries wanting to host something similar in the future.

Since public gatherings have been limited to under 50 people by Arizona’s Dept of Health Services, only 48 tickets were made available. A large section of the parking lot was closed off and tables were placed no less than 15 feet apart. No more than 8 people were allowed per table. Guests were asked not to mingle and the only reason they were allowed to go into the taproom was to use the bathroom. Four bartenders on staff became servers for the night and brought beers to the guests’ tables.

If all that sounds like a pain in the ass to put together, I can assure you that you’re correct. A lot of time went into the planning and even more hard work went into serving the guests and making sure they felt comfortable. So was all that effort worth it for a four hour-long event in which people couldn’t even mingle with one another?

It absolutely was. And I’m not the only one who thought this. The feedback from the attendees was universally positive. The event started at 5pm and every single ticket holder was checked in and seated in under hour. The patio was used as a stage for local singer Paul Opocensky who started out the night strong. Of all the white guys with guitars who play at breweries (which are fucking legion), he is definitely the best. Other local musicians Bryan & Koko followed him and Brooke Sample closed out the night.

Paul Opocensky

A lot of the guests said similar things. They talked about how much they missed live music and being out around other people, even if they couldn’t hang out with them. As strict as the guidelines were, this event was still a small taste of normality in the middle of an ocean of shit and people really appreciated it. But the main reason it worked was that everyone followed the rules. That’s gotta be the key for anyone who holds an event like this going forward. And based on how things went on Saturday I would love for other breweries to try something like this. 

A ticket to the event included four beers and a meal from The Blacktop Grill food truck. Plus we all got a BBH mask and a dope “Fuck Covid” shirt that you can buy at the taproom right now. 

As the sun went down, the weather got cooler, and people got a couple of beers in it didn’t even feel much different from the old days. It was an intimate night out with good food, music and drinks…just with a little bit of extra distance between everyone. 

I asked Gabe Ceniceros, owner of the Blacktop food truck and always a man with words of wisdom, what he thought of the event.

“It’s our first time out since March. We’re happy to be out to celebrate another small business that made it through and look back at the warrior status. It puts the badge of honor on people who make it past this.”

Happy 3rd birthday, Button Brew House. I hope to be celebrating many more of these with you in the future.

Salud!

Sad Max: The Beer Warrior – Part 3 of 3

Vote The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly: https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=28178025

IMG_3487.jpg

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

The Classy Alcoholic was able to move much faster thanks to the imperial stout he slammed. He slipped and dodged the double punches from Gary, the Torpedo Boy with four arms. He tried to get his own hits in but Gary’s gigantic mutated body felt like punching a brick wall. The only way to survive was to keep his distance until Cousin Chico’s team could make their move. Every Torpedo Boy on base circled the two fighters. The pale, deformed fucks carried machetes, nooses and flagpoles, just waiting for The Classy Alcoholic to lose the match.

An explosion rocked the supply warehouse and caught all of the Torpedo Boys by surprise. Cousin Chico and his four goons ran out tossing smoke grenades and firing stolen machine guns into the crowd. The Classy Alcoholic took cover behind Gary’s bullet-ridden body until the firefight died down. He looked up to see Cousin Chico extending his hand but instead of offering to help him stand he was offering a bag of cocaine.

“No thanks, Chico. I mean…maybe later,” The Classy Alcoholic said as he took the bag and stashed it into his suit jacket pocket.

“Fucking hell, Classy, I can’t believe you survived a fight against that damn monster! You’re a beast, dude. It would’ve been a lot easier if you used some of the blow, just saying.”

One of Cousin Chico’s goons came up to him to report that Torpedo Tony had escaped in the shootout and was nowhere to be found. He brushed it off, thinking Tony was no longer a threat. Chico replaced his old Mexican rifle with one of the Torpedo Boys’ automatic weapons and he grabbed a couple of the beer can grenades for his utility belt. The Mysterious Stranger walked out of the warehouse with a beer keg on a dolly.

“This is the last one. All the other beers in there are in cans and bottles. Thank you, Classy. This means more to me than you could ever know,” she said, which was true, because he still had no idea who she actually was. “Will you come to The Pipeline with me?”

“Yes, of course. How could I say no?” He couldn’t wait to check out whatever this new bar was supposed to be.

“I’m coming too,” Cousin Chico said. “You’ll need me to get you in. The guy at the door won’t let anyone through unless I vouch for them.”

“Alright, but you’ll have to leave your guys here to protect the rest of this booze. And don’t hoard it. Open it up for the people. Put out the word that Arizona’s alcohol supply is back.”

“You got it, Classy. We’ll give the people what they want.”

“By the way, I have some questions. How did these Torpedo Boys get to be the way they are? All deformed with multiple limbs and shit?”

“Oh yeah, they’re all former military guys from this base. After the pandemic they tried to make their own nuke and they fucked it up real bad. It was hilarious.”

The Mysterious Stranger, The Classy Alcoholic, and his Cousin Chico all made their way south toward the U.S. – Mexico border until they came across a small brick house in the middle of nowhere. A Mexican man with a machine gun stood guard outside. Cousin Chico spoke to him and handed him several bags of cocaine before they could all be allowed in. Another dust storm was brewing close by. The Mexican man, who introduced himself as Freddy, opened a trap door on the ground leading to a tunnel. The Stranger smiled for the first time since The Classy Alcoholic re-met her.

“Alright, Classy, this is it,” The Stranger said. “We can finally leave all of this behind forever. Are you ready?”

“Wait, leave what?”

“The country, man. We won’t have to worry about any of this bullshit again. You can even change your identity and be whoever you want to be.”

“Wait, I’m sorry, so does that tunnel not lead to a killer speakeasy-style bar called The Pipeline?”

The Stranger’s smile faded immediately.

“What the hell are you talking about? Oh no. No, do you not remember what The Pipeline is? Do you not remember that you told me about it? Goddammit, do you not even remember who I am?”

“Ummm…”

“What the hell, Classy, you FUCKING ASSHOLE!”

Luckily The Stranger’s berating was interrupted by the familiar sound of jeep engines and machine gun fire. The last six Torpedo Boys left alive, led by Tony, pulled up outside of the small house and started unloading their machine guns wildly. A couple of them could even hold four or five guns if they had multiple hands or opposable thumbs on their feet. Everyone inside hit the ground.

“Suck my dicks, Classy!” Tony yelled. “I want that keg and I want you plopped onto this jeep like a hood ornament, bitch!”

The Torpedo Boys started approaching the house with their guns still firing. Freddy escaped through the tunnel and locked it from the other side. Chico tried to open it back up but it was latched shut and there was no getting through.

“We’re not gonna make it, Classy!”

“Yes we are. Give me one of those beer grenades you took and get ready to fire back. I need you to move faster than you ever have before so put a big hunk of coco into your face right now.”

He didn’t have to tell Chico twice. The Classy Alcoholic held out his white handkerchief and waved it by the window for Tony to see.

“Alright, I’m coming out. I’ll give myself up. I’ll send the keg first.”

The Stranger grabbed his arm to stop him.

“No, you can’t do this. I need that keg.”

“You’ll have no use for it if we’re all dead.”

“Since when does The Classy Alcoholic not want to die? That’s kind of your whole thing!”

“I mean, yeah, I’ve lost the will to live more times than I can count but the world is different now. I can’t just walk away from everything that’s happened out here.”

The Classy Alcoholic rolled the keg out the front door toward Tony’s feet. He opened the beer grenade can and took a quick sip of the hazy IPA inside before he tossed it outside and took cover. The grenade blew up the keg and most of the Torpedo Boys nearby. Cousin Chico’s coke rage took advantage of the confusion and he expertly finished off every last Boy with a single bullet each before they could run off.

The dust storm grew louder and made its way closer. The Mysterious Stranger sat on the ground and cried into her hands. The Classy Alcoholic finally had to admit the truth.

“I’m sorry, I meet so many people, I can’t keep track. I used to be a celebrity before the world ended, you know.”

“I know! You would never shut the fuck up about it. The Pipeline is a smuggler’s route into Mexico. From there we could’ve gone anywhere in the world. Don’t you realize that every other country got this virus under control and we’re the only ones cut off from traveling outside our borders? I need to get out of this shithole. I can’t live like this anymore. The Mexican militia would’ve let us pass but only if we paid them with a keg of authentic Tucson craft beer. This was literally your idea. You told me about The Pipeline a while ago and you told me to find your cousin for help. Do you really not remember any of this?”

“No, I don’t. I went on a bit of a bender when all this craziness started.”

“You and I spent two whole weeks in quarantine together at your place, you prick. Just us, every day.”

“I mean…it was a hell of a fucking bender.”

“Wow, I knew you had a drinking problem but I didn’t realize it was that bad.”

“I don’t have a drinking problem; I have a being sad problem. And I try to fix it with drinking. But I truly am sorry. If you give me some more details maybe it’ll jog my memory.”

“No. It’s fine. If that time is gone then it’s gone. At least one of us will have some good memories from this absolute shit period to look back on. Fuck you for ruining my chances to make it out into the real world. I would’ve happily taken you with me.”

The Mysterious Stranger put on her mask and hood and started to walk away.

“Wait, can you just…will you at least tell me your name again?”

“It’s Max. My name is Max.”

The Classy Alcoholic grabbed another beer from his bandolier and held it out to Max. She accepted it without another word and walked into the dust storm until she disappeared.

One beer left.

 

THE END

Sad Max: The Beer Warrior – Part 2 of 3

Vote The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly: https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=28178025

IMG_3486.jpg

Catch up on Part 1 here.

The Mysterious Stranger made her way through the desert and The Classy Alcoholic followed. She didn’t speak much which made it harder for him to figure out how they knew each other. But it didn’t matter. Everybody dropped a key hint at some point. He once talked to a guy for a whole 20 minutes at a beer fest before realizing it was the dude he escaped a Russian prison with the year before. He would’ve remembered right away but he was shithouse Vodka drunk the whole time they were locked up together.

“We’re close,” The Stranger said, despite the fact that they were in the middle of the desert and there was nothing visible for miles. “Put your hands up and don’t make any sudden moves.”

She whistled loudly enough to make the earth start moving. The sand and rocks slowly stood up around them. The Classy Alcoholic was about to shit himself when he realized he was just looking at four guys in ghillie suits that had been camouflaged as the desert landscape. Four rifles were pointing at his head.

“No disparen, no disparen!” yelled a familiar voice coming out of a cactus. “Holy shit, Classy, I thought you were dead. It’s so good to see you!”

The Classy Alcoholic’s cousin Chico took the top off his cactus camouflage outfit and ordered the other people to lower their weapons.

“I’d hug you but, you know, I’m dressed like a fucking cactus. Oh also there’s that airborne virus that’ll kill you if we get too close. How you been man?  It’s been months. You want some cocaine? I got the real good shit.”

“No, Chico, but thank you. I mean…not now. Maybe later.” Cousin Chico fucking loved cocaine.

“I didn’t get a chance to thank you for leading me to your cousin, Classy,” The Stranger said.

Shit. He apparently knew this lady well enough to mention his Cousin Chico but he still had no idea when and why he would do that. Did she love cocaine? Maybe she also loved cocaine. Luckily she got down to business before The Classy Alcoholic had to deflect again.

“The Torpedo Boys hit my last safe house in Tucson, Chico. They took the only keg I had left to their base. Classy and I want to take it back.”

“Woah, woah, no, fuck that! I only have four guys right now and The Torpedo Boys have at least fifty in that place. Not only are we outnumbered but I’m not putting my cousin at risk. Sure, most of the family hates him for being an embarrassingly drunken shitshow who ruined our Nana’s funeral by replacing all the holy water in that church with vodka after he escaped from that Russian prison but I’ve actually always kind of somewhat liked the guy. And once The Torpedo Boys find out he’s back, they’re gonna eat him alive.”

“What the hell are you talking about, Chico? How would these people even know me?”

“I’m not the only one who thought you were dead, Classy. Most of Arizona did. But even so your name still means something out here. A lot of people refused to believe you were gone. What’s left of the Arizona booze community still talks about you like you’re the hero they need.”

“But I thought I was doing the right thing by staying indoors throughout the whole pandemic.”

“Maybe you were. I don’t know. But what I do know is that The Torpedo Boys have definitely heard of you. And they would love to take you as a trophy. Their leader is a guy who calls himself Torpedo Tony and he’s a sick fuck. He’ll get his dudes to beat the shit out of you, tie you up, tattoo you to make sure everyone knows you’re their property, and display you on one of their jeeps at the top of a flagpole. And the flagpole is gonna go up your ass.”

“Damn. Of all the ways I thought my life could possibly end, that’s actually kind of in the top twenty.”

“You fucking idiot, you’ll be alive throughout the whole thing! Even with the ass pole!”

“Ugggghhhh. Okay, well, what I’m hearing is that if I walk into that base and grab everyone’s attention they’ll give you a chance to take over their weapon and beer stashes while they’re distracted, right? Pretend it’s just another warehouse full of pallets of cocaine and raid the hell out of it, Chico. I’ve seen you do the impossible to get your hands on some sweet, sweet yayo. I know you can do this.”

Cousin Chico talked to his team of four guys and reached a consensus.

“You’re a fucking maniac, Classy. And I wouldn’t expect anything less. Give us fifteen minutes’ worth of a distraction and we’ll take over that entire place. You can count on it.”

The team made their way toward the Sierra Vista military base. Cousin Chico and his goons hid in the desert again and waited for their cue. The Classy Alcoholic chugged a West Coast IPA can from his bandolier to build up some courage. Three beers left.

He walked right through the blown-up gates of the former entryway shouting as loud as he could.

“TORPEDO TONY! GET THE FUCK OUT HERE. THE CLASSY ALCOHOLIC IS CALLING YOU OUT!”

The army of Torpedo Boys came out of their barracks and watched in awe. They heard tales of this guy for months and months on end. Most of them didn’t believe The Classy Alcoholic even existed and they sure as hell didn’t think they’d ever see him in person. He was like a ghost…a legend around these parts. They started to get the ass flagpoles ready.

Torpedo Tony walked out of the giant warehouse that stored the massive reserves of beer, wine, liquor, handguns, rifles, grenades, flashlights, fleshlights, tuna cans, sex dolls, vape pens, hand sanitizer, butt sanitizer, and ramen noodle packets. He was the only one of the troops who didn’t have any visible deformities. He had the standard number of fingers, hands and heads, it seemed.

“Holy fucking shit, it’s really The Classy Alcoholic! Is it Christmas already? ‘Cause I’m about to hang you up like an ornament for all The Boys to see! Welcome to my home. Can I offer you your last drink?”

“I’m not here for one drink. I’m here for all of them. I’m taking back all the Arizona booze you’ve been hoarding, asshole.”

“You can’t be serious. After all the things I heard about you I guess I should’ve imagined you’d be this stupid. Your time is done, guy. I’m the original Torpedo Boy and I’m the new Classy Alcoholic. I control the booze for the entire state. And I’m twice the man you are. Two times. Like…double.”

“Ummm….”

“Literally twice the man you are. Twice the man any man is. Like, take any man and I have two times-”

“Dude, are you trying to tell me that you have two dicks?”

“Hell yeah! I got two dicks and it’s dope. You see that guy over there? He has two noses. That other guy over there has two goddamn heads. I’m the one only who came out on top after our evolution. Well…me and this fella Gary.”

A massive, pale, Torpedo Boy with four arms walked out of the warehouse. He was easily an entire foot taller than The Classy Alcoholic.

“Gary, please take good care of our guest.”

The mutated Gary let out a series of grunts that roughly translated to, “I’m about to fuck you up real good.”

The Classy Alcoholic wasn’t fast enough to avoid punches from the Gary monstrosity. He lost a lot of agility during the months he spent drinking on the couch. Gary managed to land hits to the head and the ribs at the exact same time, over and over. The Classy Alcoholic ended up on the ground, bleeding from the mouth and nose in no time. This was the longest fifteen minutes of his life. Every last inch of his body hurt but he had one last play. He opened a can of an 11% ABV imperial stout from his bandolier and chugged it as fast as he could. The high alcohol content helped him push through the pain and he managed to get himself up off the floor.

“Is that all you got?” The Classy Alcoholic asked as he got into a fighting stance.

Two beers left.

 

TO BE CONCLUDED…

Sad Max: The Beer Warrior – Part 1 of 3

Vote The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly:
https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=28178025

IMG_3485.jpg

Tucson was a wasteland. The Classy Alcoholic made his way through a dust storm wearing a mask over his face and a bandolier across his chest that held six beers. The last of his stash. It had been several months since The Virus started spreading but he wasn’t sure exactly how long he spent in hiding. Time no longer existed the way it used to. He got news here and there of the outside but his sources started slowly falling away until there was complete silence. The small portion of the population that hadn’t died from infection was staying indoors and making only limited supply runs. Bars and breweries were closed and the alcohol had practically run dry in town. The only local “businesses” still open were food trucks selling snake and tarantula meat cooked by campfire with the option of getting them in tacos or in quesadillas. And they both tasted like fucking shit.

The Classy Alcoholic would’ve been perfectly happy staying indoors avoiding the pandemic as long as he had enough booze and easy access to pornography. But his legendary stockpile of beer, wine and liquor that people thought was more than a single person could ever drink in a lifetime ran out way before his life did. So he had to make the trek outside to scrounge whatever he could.

He heard a rumor from the last of his friends on the outside that some craft beer kegs were being hidden in safe houses around town. Once he made it past the dust storm he saw what was left of Historic 4th Avenue. What used to be a hub for bars and restaurants ended up being a dead zone full of buildings with boarded up windows and graffitied dicks all over their walls. The Classy Alcoholic opened an IPA from his bandolier and drank. Five beers left.

He spent what felt like hours crashing through the wooden boards and searching the remains of the bars he used to love looking for any sign of leftover drink. He was getting discouraged until he broke into the shell of a former restaurant and found a single keg hidden behind some cardboard boxes and a shitload of dead rats. The keg was clean while everything else in the building was covered in dust and cobwebs. It felt cold to the touch. The Classy Alcoholic shifted it around and it was obviously full. He was about to cry at the beautiful sight until he realized how suspicious it was that a cold keg was sitting here in such good condition. He heard a rustling behind him. He wasn’t alone.

A figure in a dark hood leapt out at him with a wooden staff and bashed him on the side of the fucking head before he could move away. He could already feel the blood dripping down his cheek.

“Holy shit, it’s you!” The Mysterious Stranger said. She pulled down her hood to reveal a woman in her 40s with completely gray hair. “I didn’t realize who you were, Classy. What are you doing out here? Did you run out of booze and pornography at home?”

This was all a familiar situation for The Classy Alcoholic, actually. He got bashed in the head without warning plenty of times by his ex-girlfriend Rosario Vargas when she was in a coke rage and he was also used to people recognizing him without him remembering who the hell they were. It happened enough times at beer festivals that he became an expert in pretending he knew the people talking to him until they said something that jogged his memory.

“Ran out of booze. Not pornography. I keep that shit on physical media. I’m basically a doomsday prepper but for porn. I’d say it’s nice to see you but it’s never nice to see people who bust my skull open.”

“That’s not what you said about Rosario Vargas.”

Fuck. She knew who Rosario was. That means he and The Stranger had some deep conversations about his ex. Which meant she wasn’t just, like, some rando he met at a bar once. Unless he met her when he was sad tequila drinking because Rosario left him for prison and he was desperate to tell anyone how fucked up he was about it. So she could either be someone he truly bonded with or someone he drunkenly bonded with for a brief part of the night. Either way, he still had no idea who she was but there was no way he was going to admit that.

“The world is on fire. Everything is sad enough right now. I don’t need reminders of Rosario on top of it all.”

“Fair enough. I know you’re not always in the right space to talk about that.”

Fuck yeah, he nailed that shit.

The Classy Alcoholic was lucky that their conversation was interrupted before he had to come up with more ways to pretend he remembered who this woman was. The sounds of jeep motors and gunfire broke through the growl of the dust storm outside. He saw the panic on The Stranger’s face as they got closer.

“Stay down,” she said as she tackled him to the ground.

A barrage of heavy bullets flew over their heads as shards of wood and glass rained over them. A beer can flew through the open window of the restaurant and landed right in front of the Classy Alcoholic’s face.

“Dope, free beer!”

“No, you idiot, get back!”

The Stranger pulled him behind the empty bar as the beer can exploded like a grenade and made both their ears ring. The Stranger yelled something that The Classy Alcoholic couldn’t hear but she grabbed his hand and led him toward the exit in the back of the building. They both ran as far as they could away from the wreckage.

“Who the fuck are those people?” The Classy Alcoholic asked as soon as they were at a safe distance.

“Wow, you really have been out of the loop haven’t you? Those are The Torpedo Boys. They’re the real reason why craft beer and other booze is in such low supply around here. They’ve been stealing and hoarding it all for months. Here, check them out.” The Stranger handed The Classy Alcoholic her binoculars so he could get a closer look at the people who attacked them.

He counted ten guys that were bald, shirtless, and pale as fuck. One of them had six fingers on each hand. Another had two noses on his face. Another had a third arm growing out of his goddamn chest.

“What happened to them?”

“I honestly don’t know. They’ve been raiding the city for months and they used to have to right number of limbs at some point. All I know is that they’ve been rounding up all the booze in town and taking it to the old military base in Sierra Vista. I hid the keg here because I need it for The Pipeline. But these damn Torpedo Boys always find my hiding places.”

The Classy Alcoholic had no idea what “The Pipeline” was but he would never admit that either in case it was a dope new bar that he didn’t get invited to the opening of.

“How did the can explode that way back there?”

“The Torpedo Boys have so much beer they started making it into grenades and using it as bait. It would’ve work on you if I hadn’t saved your ass.”

“They’re using beer for evil? Those motherfuckers! If these guys are hoarding beer in Sierra Vista then I’m going there and taking it back. Are you coming?”

“Of course. I desperately need that keg.”

The Classy Alcoholic cracked open another drink from his bandolier. It was a spicy red ale brewed with chiltepins. Four beers left.

“Oh wait, I have a question,” The Classy Alcoholic said. “That ‘Torpedo Boy’ name…is it supposed to be, like-”

“Yeah, it’s a dick thing.”

“Okay, right, I totally thought it was a dick thing.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

4 Bars That Are Bars In Tucson

I’ve recently been told that my blog posts are too long. And that dumb-dumbs prefer short articles that are just a list of places and things. That’s how to get maximum social media exposure. So here is a list of 4 bars that are bars in Tucson, AZ.

1. World Famous Golden Nugget Tavern

IMG_3477.jpg

This is a bar-ass bar. The kind of place that you walk into and think to yourself, “Holy fucking shit, I’m in a bar.” The Golden Nugget has everything: Beer, liquor, a bar. It’s practically the perfect dive. People of all ages, races and physical disabilities come here and feel like home, as long as their home is a bar. If you’re looking for a place with pool tables, a jukebox, bathrooms for men and women, and an area where you can sit to order drinks and then drink them, then this place is definitely a bar.

2. Brodie’s Tavern

IMG_3476

Brodie’s is one of the very few gay bars currently in Tucson, yes. But it is also a bar. Which means they will sell you booze even if you are not gay, which is great for me because while I fully support gay rights and the gay community, I am also a straight dude who bangs hot straight ladies and also likes to drink in bars. If you’re looking for one of those (a bar) then Brodie’s is the place to be. They even have a patio where you can drink drinks. Now that’s what I call a bar.

3. The Shelter Cocktail Lounge

IMG_3481.jpg

The Shelter is a bar that’s so dark inside at any hour of the day, when you walk in you don’t know if you’re going to get murdered or if you’re going to have a great time at a bar. But you know it’s going to be at least one of those. The retro look and the velvety portraits on the wall give this place a really cool atmosphere that makes you want to have drinks, which you can absolutely do here because this place is a bar. They have a variety of infused vodkas which can be mixed into drinks and also beers on tap. That’s the kind of place I’m looking for when I want to go to a bar. Share this article on Facebook, you fucking assholes.

4. Bay Horse Tavern

IMG_3479

This bar is known for having a bigass chair in it. Like, an oversized wooden chair you can sit in to take pictures. It’s pretty cool, unless you’ve been drinking and fall off of it and land on your fat fucking face like I may or may not have in the past. But let’s not talk about that because this is not actually an article about 4 bars where I’ve fallen on the floor and landed on my fat fucking face. This is an article about bars and The Bay Horse has enough things going for it to qualify for a spot on this prestigious list.

Oh, full disclosure, all of these bars are currently closed due to the pandemic. But at least you know where there are bars?

Vote The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly:
https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=28178025

Borderlands Reopens For Business

Vote The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly:
https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=28178025

After small business owners and employees who have been laid off due to the state shutdown there’s no one more conflicted about bars reopening than me. It’s not because I don’t have easy access to booze. I’ve been doing plenty of sad drinking alone at home thanks to breweries still having to-go sales. And I’ve made a name for myself by supporting all the producers of Arizona’s beer, wine, and spirits with the full force of my wallet and liver for years. So during this global pandemic I’ve been struggling to determine if I should be encouraging people to visit the few local businesses that are open and if I should even be patronizing these joints myself.

IMG_3465.jpg

On Wednesday, July 29, Borderlands Brewing Co reopened their taproom to allow onsite drinking (after four months of being partially closed, offering to-go and delivery options only) with strict safety protocols that are undoubtedly a pain in the ass for the entire staff involved. They split up the seating in the patio and indoors so that customers could stay six feet apart. They require masks upon entry and when walking around the taproom. You have to get your temperature checked at the door and wait to be seated. You’re not allowed to sit at the bar or even go up there to order your beer which means the staff have to bring you beers to your table. You can pull up their beer menu on your phone by scanning their QMR code.

…Okay, give me a second to talk to the old people reading this right now. A QMR code is a little black and white picture of a square with a bunch of squiggly lines and shit. You take out your smartphone, pull up the camera, point it at the square and the phone will guide you to a website that has the beer menu. If you’re enough of an old that you still have a flip phone I must tell you that you’re shit out of luck and I have no help for you.

IMG_3456

Anyhoozle, the Borderlands crew did a fantastic job of adhering to these safety protocols. They all wore masks and I saw them immediately spraying down every surface of the tables and chairs after customers left. But is that enough for us to be safe in a public area around other diseased humans, no matter how far apart they are? I honestly don’t know. So many people have their own stupid opinions about the pandemic and they’re more than eager to share them on Facebook and they’re all mostly idiots.

The solution to this pandemic is not hard to figure out. Pretty much every other country IN THE FUCKING WORLD got it right. Everything closes down and the government pays everyone to stay home until this gets resolved. That’s exactly why we pay taxes. We’re living through the literal apocalypse and this is the epitome of why a “rainy day fund” is needed. But some dumbasses still want to argue and concern-troll on Facebook about where all that money could possibly come from. (We’re supposed to be the richest country in the world. Shut the fuck up, bitch). So we have to be realistic and admit that ours is the only government that refuses to do what’s right.

And now we have to be realistic about the fact that our bartenders, who are the real heroes here, are forced to go back to work and put themselves at risk of The Rona because they desperately need to make a living. We have to be realistic about the fact that you and I are putting our favorite bartenders at risk by choosing to patronize these restaurants and bars and possibly infecting them with our drunken Rona breath. We have to realize that wearing masks is literally THE LEAST we can do when we’re out in public because we shouldn’t be out in public at all but that the mask is intended to be a simple safeguard during essential activities.

While sitting at Borderlands during their opening day I asked myself if this was even an essential activity. I asked myself if I was possibly risking the lives of the employees of a brewery I’ve loved for years. I wondered if I’d hate myself for not supporting them on their reopening day after all the time I spent telling everyone how awesome Borderlands was. I told myself that my being there, paying for beers, and tipping fat as a way of helping a small business that was struggling during the end of the world was ultimately a good thing.

IMG_3459.jpg

Should I be encouraging other people to go to Borderlands (or any other local joint that’s open right now) during a pandemic?

I really don’t know.

What I can say for sure is that I’ve been to a few other restaurants with bar seating in the last couple of weeks and that some of them DO NOT give a fuck. They make a bit of a show with signs on their doors telling people to wear their masks and have indicators for social distancing but they do not enforce that shit at all. And the customers don’t give a fuck either. Lucky for these places I’m no goddamn snitch. But we have to do better.

Anyone who opens for business must follow Borderlands’ lead and adhere to their safety protocols without fail. And you must not give any leeway to these anti-mask dipshits. Treat these people like the public health hazards they are. Don’t worry about losing their business. Shame these fucking assholes into oblivion.

Oh, and also check out what Borderlands did with their beer garden. They laid down a bunch of bricks and built a killer patio for their grand reopening. Fuck yeah!

IMG_3454.jpg

The Borderlands taproom is open Wed 4p-8p; Thu-Sat 12p-10p; Sun 12p-8p. Support your local breweries any way you can. They need the help now more than ever.

Hangover Movies Paired With Last Night’s Drunken Events

Nominate The Classy Alcoholic for Best Blog in the Tucson Weekly here: https://posting.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Survey?survey=27932834

I’d like to think we’re all familiar with the concept of a “hangover movie.” On the mornings that we’re feeling like absolute ass after a night of heavy drinking, only laying sideways on the couch brings us any semblance of relief. And when we’re there we know that there are certain types of films that bring us a sense of comfort. We might not realize it right away but there are certain criteria for hangover movies that we’ve all come to accept as a society.

Ideally it’s a movie that we’ve seen a bunch times so that we don’t have to exert a lot of mental energy into understanding what’s going on. Plenty of action sequences won’t hurt so if you fall asleep during the talky-talk parts you can be woken up by the pew-pew parts and the ‘splosiony things. Also it should be long as hell so it carries you through the worst of the pain. I can tell you’re already thinking of your favorite hangover movies as you read this.

Back To The Future? The Matrix? The Lord of the Fucking Rings?

The franchises are the best because you can just let them ride for hours and hours. And these days you want to be able to stream an entire series because getting up and grabbing a DVD case from your shelf then walking over to put the disc into your DVD player is going to take way too much effort and also hurt like fuck.

My ideal hangover movie situation is being on vacation at a hotel and turning on the TV to find a LotR marathon on TNT or whatever because they will play all those bitches with commercials which means you’re getting practically an entire day’s worth of a comforting movie blanket while you try super hard not to throw up.

And even hangover movies aren’t exempt when it comes to The Classy Alcoholic’s famous pairing skills. Which is why I bring you a list of the best hangover movies that are expertly paired with the previous night’s drunken festivities. So let’s fucking gooooooo!

 

The Event: Titty Bar Bachelor Party
It’s embarrassing that you were dumb enough to go to a strip club and pay at least $40 for a boner when you could’ve just got one at home for free. But your idiot co-worker Frank wanted to celebrate his bachelor party because he is about to marry a beautiful lady named Marie. And you felt obliged to go because Frank made a couple of complaints to HR about you showing up drunk to his cubicle at 9am and calling him a “lazy spreadsheet ass BITCH” out loud. Which, like, to be fair, Frank is really fucking bad at getting his spreadsheets completed and submitted on time. But at the end of the day he dropped his complaints after you started being nice to him and you wanted to keep that streak going. So you bought many a $20 shot of garbage whiskey at the titty bar, not just for yourself but for Frank and the rest of your stupid co-workers because you wanted to make sure you didn’t have to look for a new job in this economy.

Before you knew it those $12 Coors Light cans added up and the last thing you remember was crying into a stripper’s lap in the Champagne Room over your ex-girlfriend and her telling you that you’re out of cash and you’re not allowed to use the ATM anymore because someone saw you try to hump it a bunch so please get the fuck out.

The Movie: Casino Royale
Casino Royale

This is going to be a difficult discussion for a lot of reasons. The first is that old James Bond movies all suck butts. The only good one is Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig Without A Shirt On. Please be aware that this is NOT a good hangover movie for your first time viewing. I say that from personal experience. It’s a complicated, twisty spy thriller that’ll make your head hurt if you try to figure out what’s going on. When I rewatched it sober it was like an entirely different movie. And it has just the right amount of loud pew-pew, punchy stuff so that you can pass out during the boring poker shit.

Another difficult discussion is how I don’t know if titty bars are good or bad. As dudes we’re clearly garbage for objectifying women the way we do but also women are making money off of our dumbasses for just being horny. Is that feminism? If you’re here looking for the right answer from a dumb alcoholic I can tell you that you’re in the wrong place because I DON’T KNOW.

But what I do know is that there’s a scene in Casino Royale in which Daniel Craig walks out on the beach in tiny swim trunks with his bangin bod and that no matter how secure in our heterosexuality we are, every one of us dudes will get a confused hangover boner when we see this. Don’t even deny it, bitches. DO NOT.

Craig

So at the very least this hangover brings you the comfort of a fun action movie while also bringing you the shame of having drunkenly objectified women just trying to make a living the entire night before while trying to grapple with the reality that you’d love Daniel Craig’s rock hard, greasy-ass abs rubbing up against you just as much. And maybe by the end of this hangover you will have fucking learned something!

 

The Event: Family Gathering
Those of us who are Mexican know all too well that mom will ask you the same damn thing every time you see each other: “Tienes novia, mijo?” Which translates to, “Do you have a girlfriend, mijo?” And you say “No,” which translates to “No,” but she won’t let it go so she asks “Porque no?” which translates to, “Why not, is it because you’re gay?” You tell her that things just haven’t worked out for you but also say that she shouldn’t fucking judge people no matter what their lifestyle is and she just stays quiet, thinking that her son probably turned out gay.

The family has only shit beer, which you drink because there’s nothing else around. But then your sister shows up. She’s got a fat bottle of tequila in one hand and a six pack of genuinely good craft beer in the other because she knows you’re visiting and knows what you like to drink. You instantly feel bad about the time you were kids and you kicked her in the back of the head into the pool and told your parents that she tripped and her dumbass couldn’t argue because she was a toddler and couldn’t say words yet.

The Movie: Home AloneHome Alone

When you were a little kid the scariest thing in the world was the thought of being left alone in a grocery store. But somehow this movie made being left behind by your parents because they were going on vacation across the country or because they got hammered drunk at a dive bar and your dad drove his car through the side of that dive bar and got put into the drunk tank for the night seem fucking DOPE.

I mean, sure, that little blonde white kid could get away with accidentally stealing a toothbrush from the grocery store while your brown ass would’ve gotten immediately shot by the cop who was too lazy to chase you even if you were 9 years old or whatever. But this movie, like most hangover movies, holds an emotional place in your heart even though you know in your head that it’s bad. It’s like how grown-ass men and women will tell you that The Goonies is a good movie even though that thing is absolute unwatchable dogshit. Also, it’s just a fucking toothbrush, let that little bitch go. Fuck da police.

But the first part of Home Alone when Blonde White Kid is over his insufferable family and gets left by himself will keep you engaged enough and you can then take a hearty nap until the parts where the baby tries to violently murder Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci.

I haven’t seen the movie in a long while. Were Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci trying to have sex with that kid?

Ew

 

The Event: DA CLUB
You say fuck it and go out to da club after a bad breakup. You try to meet and hook up with hot ladies but you realize right away that they can’t hear you talk to them and don’t give a shit what you have to say anyway plus you can’t dance. This fucking sucks, dude.

The Movie: The Goonies
The Goonies Sucks

Sometimes the movie to watch after a night that fucking sucks is one that also fucking sucks. Goddamn this movie is annoying despite the presence of Josh Brolin. But maybe if you wake up hungover after a night at da club that sucked and you put on this movie that also sucks and suffer through it it’ll remind you that you’re too goddamn old to be going in to da club to try and meet ladies. Bad breakup be damned, stick to what you know!

 

The Event: Your Best Friend’s Wedding
Your co-worker Frank is such a fucking dumbass that he never even realized that his fiancée Marie was an ex-girlfriend of yours. She broke up with you for him after the two of you spent a year together and you were so fucked up over it that you decided to get hammered and go da club to try and meet new girls as a way to get over her and you failed fucking miserably. You drunk texted her and told here that you still loved her and that Frank was such a little bitch that he couldn’t even get the simplest of spreadsheets turned in on time.

But she didn’t care. She decided to marry him and you decided to get drunk and crash the wedding. You knew you could take Frank. For years you’ve been thinking about how well you could fuck him up if the two of you ever fought. But you completely forgot that Marie had an older brother named Teddy who’s a body builder and who knocked you out in one punch to the face and dragged you out to the street because he would not abide you ruining the best day of his sister’s life. You wake up in a ditch and get your hungover ass home.

The Movie: Con Air
Con Air

Did you think I was going to suggest that 90’s Julia Roberts movie called My Best Friend’s Wedding in which she tried to break up her friend’s wedding because she was in love with him and he was marrying someone else?

Nah, fuck that. While that is a prime hangover movie you’re going to need something a little more intense after a night like that. Nicolas Cage is the 90’s Hangover Movie King. That motherfucker was in both The Rock and Face/Off. Either of which would serve as the ultimate hangover movies but you must not forget that after a couple of hours of some of the most killer action scenes ever put to film the movie Con Air ends with that Trisha Yearwood “How Do I Live” song that will make any grown ass man cry while sober. And during a miserable hangover with a side of heartbreak you’re going to need a hell of a good cry.

Just like you need to sweat out the booze you also need to sweat out the sad, motherfucker. And there’s nothing like that scene with Nic Cage and Monica Potter making out with the song playing in the background to make you realize that you need to forget Marie and pick your ass back up.

Monica Potter

But not today. Order a pizza and stay on the couch. Pick yourself up tomorrow.

 

 

1912 Brewing Co’s 4th Anniversary – Tucson, AZ

Saturday, July 6, 2019
12PM – 10PM
2045 N Forbes Blvd #105, Tucson, AZ 85745

IMG_0496.JPEG

It’s 2019, which means two things: 1912 Brewing Co in Tucson is celebrating its fourth year in business and enough time has passed since the 90s that a bunch of annoying stuff from back then has come all the way around to being cool again. Just like I can drop a perfectly timed, “MY WIIIFE” and be considered the funniest guy in the clique you can feel free to roll out those old Austin Powers references, which is really tight.

Don’t think the 90s are back? Well Daddy Yankee’s current hit is a remake of Snow’s “Informer” song and I just spent the weekend getting kicked out of an Aladdin movie AND a Toy Story movie for being too drunk. So yeah, I think the 90s are back like motherfucking Backstreet was Back. And in that spirit 1912’s anniversary party this year will be Austin Powers-themed. You’re all encouraged to show up in costume dressed up in 60s/70s attire or as any of your favorite characters from the movies…you know the ones. The ones from the film. Okay, sorry, I’ve never seen the damn movie. But I did get to sample the five new beers (and two super-secret new products) that are being released on the 6th and I have an exclusive preview for y’all. Oh behave, baby! Is that a thing he says?

 

Zippylongstocking hef

IMG_0493.JPEG

Only 90s kids will remember German-inspired wheat beers like this. Long before everything was a hazy IPA people used to drink beers with notes of banana and clove. Oh you thought this style was dead? As if! This delicious retro beer has a wild yeast blend that also gives it subtle notes of citrus and vanilla that complement the traditional hef flavors super well. I haven’t had a hef this good since I would talk to the hand! Because I used to get so goddamn high I would talk to my own hand for hours on end. The 90s were a dark time for me before I got clean, I’m not gonna lie.

GROOVY BABY!

 

Fookmi sour gose

IMG_0501.JPEG

The name of this beautifully colored sour gose was inspired by one of the twins that appears in the movie “Goldmember.” It turned out so boldly purple mostly from being made with elderberries that got scrambled up like the pornography I tried to watch on TV as a kid. The flavor is enhanced by limes and the juice wheezed thereof. There’s a hint of blueberry and it even finishes off with some cinnamon that works very well with all the other flavors, to my pleasant surprise. This is 1912’s first beer using elderberry and it tastes so good it makes me wanna party like it’s 1999 because that was before I realized my parents’ divorce was my fault!

SHAGADELIC!

 

Fookyu sour gose

IMG_0506.JPEG

The second half of the beers named after the film’s twins is another gose fruited with Asian pear juice and dry-hopped with ginger that was soaked in bourbon. Boy, did I know a lady in the 90s named Ginger who was always soaked in bourbon herself! It was Ginger Martinez, my elementary school math teacher and it was a very sad situation. She…had a real problem. Anyhoozle, the Fookyu gose doesn’t taste boozy at all so don’t get scared off if you’re not into that. The ginger is the more prominent flavor and the bourbon only leaves a slight oaky taste. This is a perfect beer for those who want a fruited gose that tastes great but isn’t super sweet as opposed to those of us who like our beers to taste like both sex and candy.

FIRE THE “LASER”!

 

Got My Mojito Working Again sour gose 

IMG_0505.JPEG

I know what 1912 Brewing did last summer. At last year’s anniversary party they released an incredible mojito gose that absolutely stole the show. Bringing it back was a no-brainer but this year it was morphin’ time! Because now it’s made with slightly different versions of the ingredients. This batch was made with key limes instead of Mexican limes and an Italian mint that gives this a slightly grassier, earthier taste than whatever was used last year. It’s amazing how the same beer with only mild tweaks can surprise you with the subtle differences in its flavor. It reminds me of what my mom used to say after the divorce: “Life is like a box of chocolates. It’ll give you diabetes.”

PENIS PUMP!

 

Sorry, That Never Happens I Swear sour gose

IMG_0503.JPEG

Alrighty then! The last of the new releases I’m allowed to tell you about is essentially a piña colada beer. It tastes of pineapple, orange, lemon and lime. It’s a beer I would drink while laying out on the beach in Puerto Peñasco. PSYCH! I’m not allowed back into Puerto Peñasco after I stole that one old man’s taco cart and also got caught trying to sell drugs to what ended up being a very realistic looking mannequin that I’m pretty sure was haunted. The Federales asked if I was innocent and I said I totally was. NOT!!! But yeah, this beer is really good. I sampled it before it had the added carrot juice that will eventually give it a strong orange color but won’t alter the flavor. Because sometimes presentation can be just as important as anything else. Whoever made that fucking narc-ass mannequin definitely knew that.

R.I.P. MINI-ME!

 

BONUS BEER – All Set In The West sour

IMG_0507.JPEG

This beer is not a special anniversary release but I still wanted to highlight it here because it’s awesome and it’s available at 1912 right now. It’s a collab with Sam Adams. Yes, THAT Sam Adams. No, not THAT Sam Adams, that guy died in 1803. I’m talking about Sam Adams the brewery, not the founding father, duh. This beer was actually brewed in Boston using Sam Adams lager yeast and the same culture used for the Naughty Naranja sour, giving it hints of orange and grapefruit. Then, in a move that probably pissed off all those racist, northeastern, chowder-eating fucks to no end, the team added agave nectar and blended in cranberries and tamarindo. Can you imagine how offended those assholes must’ve been having to use something called “tamarindo”? How did they even pronounce it? This beer is great and gave me tons of good vibrations when I drank it but don’t give any to Marky Mark. It’ll make him so angry he might try to attack another Vietnamese man like he did when he was a teenager. Mark Wahlberg committed multiple hate crimes, let us never forget that.

Apart from the five new beers I listed above Allan wanted to make sure I let y’all know there would be two other special releases available at the party. They’re both a surprise and I’ve been sworn to secrecy so the only thing I can say is that I’ve sampled whatever these things are and that you’ll definitely wanna show up to try them.

1912 Brewing Co will be open for a few hours on Thursday, the 4th. It’ll be about 3p-5p so you can grab some beers before the fireworks and family time. But the official anniversary party will be Saturday the 6th. There will be a second bar in the back of the production area serving beer “mocktails” as well as a live band and Daniela’s Cooking food truck serving the amazing food they’re already well known for. There won’t be any flights served all day so you’ll have to commit to full pours but that won’t be an issue when the beers are this good.

Oh and if you don’t wanna be known as a total fart-knocker then be sure to tip your bartenders…or should I say, SHOW THEM THE MONEY!