When I worked at Sunset Gower Studios from 2001 – 2007, the idea of a destination bar in the neighborhood would have been laughable considering the sad, dilapidated surroundings. Now, in the shadow of what will soon be a mammoth mixed-use development called Columbia Square, you’ll find Good Times At Davey Wayne’s. Yes, there is a brown and orange sign befitting the ’70s, the decade that inspired the detailed look and feel from Mark and Jonnie Houston, twin brothers who also launched modern classes like La Descarga, Pour Vous, and Harvard & Stone. Enter the bar through a garage refrigerator door and find a groovy living room, complete with DJ deck. An adjacent bar houses shelves of vintage beer cans, a Bally Monte Carlo pinball machine, and shuffleboard. Out back, expect an open-air wood deck with Astroturf, bar trailer, and Dad’s World Famous BBQ, featuring fun bar food from Seoul Sausage co-founder Chris Oh, but let’s focus on drinking.
Joseph Swifka, beverage manager for the Houston Hospitality group, is a St. Paul native who previously worked full-time at La Descarga, and before that, at prime New York spots like Flatiron Lounge and Lani Kai. He said the cocktails at Good Times At Davey Wayne’s are primarily plays on ‘70s classes. For instance, Some People Call Me Maurice ($12), an updated Grasshopper, is a reference to the Steve Miller song, “The Joker,” and to one of Swifka’s favorite bar jokes: A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Hey, we’ve got a drink named after you.” Grasshopper: “You have a drink named Maurice?” In a glass the size of a small fish bowl, Swifka, Good Times GM Jon Rhinerson and their bar staff serve two ounces of Del Maguey Vida mezcal infused with cinnamon sticks, creme de menthe, creme de cacao, heavy cream, some drops of concentrated Java Juice, and fresh mint leaves over crushed ice. The cool, creamy cocktail is surprisingly refreshing given all the cream, a great summer sipper, and ironic in the best ways possible.