Saturday, September 12, 2009

Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den – Minneapolis, MN

Since I have ties to the library industry, a few of the cooler librarians get together and go out for drinks. You might have some preconceived notion of what librarians do after hours, but I’m guessing, unless you know a cool librarian, you have no idea. These people can drink.

We started out at Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge and Tiki Bar, but since I’ve already reviewed that a few times, I won’t bore you with a recap. But it’s awesome and my favorite bar in Minneapolis (and probably the entire world for that matter). Here’s some photos of how that went down though. And yes, all the girly drinks were mine.

And I will say, the Sunny Buick pizza is pretty darn good. EnyaFace! finally showed up to one of these, so we split some cheese curds and the Sunny Buick. Fresh basil, pine nuts, roasted garlic provolone, mozzarella, and white-wine sauce. Wurd.

Some of the librarians bailed after Psycho Suzies, but some of us wanted to check out Donny Dirks Zombie Den, since we’d heard so much about the place. It is fairly close to Suzie’s, but you still have to drive to get there. Luckily, we knew we’d be headed there early enough to pace ourselves enough to be able to drive over there. THEN, it would be “go time.”

I’d heard a lot of people say what a change it was from “Stand Up Franks”. And from the sound of things, that is a very good thing. Sounded like a lot of bad stuff went down there – drugs, prostitution, gun fights, etc. Fortunately, they’ve put some development into the area where Donny’s moved in and it’s well lit, had good parking, and seemed pretty safe (for being so close to the “not so safe” part of town. Donny Dirk’s is owned by the people who own Psycho Suzie’s as well, so you know they know how to do theme bars. This place is super fun.

We rolled up and the bouncers (dressed in bloody lab coats) told us we had to wait. They were at capacity and we’d have to wait for a few people to come out before we could head in. No problem at all, since it was such a nice night. And the bouncers were really good guys. Very chatty and talked to us about random stuff. Cool couple of guys. They told us they were making sure the capacity remained at a level where people could chat and not have to push their way through crowds or lean over people at the bar to order. They were trying to make sure this place stayed open, basically. Smart move, considering the hoops they had to jump through to get this place opened up where Stand Up Franks had been.

As it turns out, our group was already inside waiting for us. So we strolled in after a couple of people left. Oddly enough, Norwegian Mafia (of Minnesota Roller Girls fame) was just vacating the booth our group was slowly commandeering, so I chatted with her for a bit about going out to Denver for the bout and about the upcoming Brawl Of America” Northern Region Championship tournament next weekend – you should all be there. She was very cool to talk to as was the guy she was with – Steve or Michael or something.

We grabbed the large booth and surveyed the place. There’s so much kitsch to this place, it’s going to be difficult to describe. It’s a zombie themed bar, so it’s got a chainsaw in a glass case that says “In case of Zombie attack, break glass.” The bartenders (and bouncer) wear bloody lab coats, behind the bar, there are all kinds of apothecary bottles and tubes with liquids in them, they show old movies on the TVs inside – we watched some of Godzilla and also Freaks (which horrified the people at my table for some reason). The carpet is tiger skin patterned and the walls are mirrors. There’s a neon sign above the bar that reads “Undead Frank Lives”, a shout out to the previous owner, I’m assuming. And for some reason, there is a GIANT set of bull horns over the doorway. So large, I’m not sure they’re real, but sadly, I think they are. It’s got a fun vibe – not everything is truly zombie related, but still, it’s kitschy, like I said. And what’s even more weird is this place is MUCH more swanky than I expected. I don’t mean high-brow expensive swanky, I mean like Vegas Swingers swanky. The fun kind of swanky!

They have a ton of wild drinks on the menu as well – bubblegum infused vodka (which RubyVita assures me is amazing), cherry vodka, various martinis, multiple shots, and the thing many people talk about: Weird Science. This is a make-your-own drink kit. They bring out a laminated 8.5x11 page of drinks and instructions on both sides. You mark what liquors, mixers, syrups, and sprinkles you want, then you write the recipe on the included index card with your name and the name of the drink. This will all cost you at least $9. IF you get anything fancy, they upcharge you. You can have at least 3, but you have to have less than 9 for the thing so 3-8 is your range.

I was REALLY amazed at the amount of liquors they have on this list. Tons of things on here I had never even heard of, and they were really nice and gave some indication of what flavors some of them were in parentheses after the names, just in case. So some would say (almond) or (vanilla) or (coffee) after them.

I of course had them whip up the black forest cake for me. I won’t divulge the secret ingredients on this one, but it’s really tasty. And I had them line the glass with chocolate syrup before they poured the drink in the glass. I’m used to making these girly drinks in large pitchers, so I was bummed that the drink was as small as it was, but still, it was good, so I won’t complain. Plus everyone at the table that tried it really liked it, reassuring me that I truly AM as brilliant as I tell people. (I’m sooooo kidding – I’m not THAT guy).

They serve draught beer in these super large goblets called “schooners” (You dumb bastard. It’s a schooner, not a sailboat – hahaha). These are basically drinking vessels which require two hands to operate. They’re pretty serious. So I saw a lot of people drinking out of those – I’m not a beer drinker, so you’re on your own with that one.

This place does get a line of people outside it about 8:30 or 9pm, so if you’re going to show up, get there early enough to grab a booth with some friends and spend lots of money. You won’t be disappointed. If you get hungry while you’re pounding home-made girly drinks, you can use their “bat phone” and call Psycho Suzie’s – they deliver REGULARLY to Donny Dirk’s, so you can have it come to you and not worry about getting pulled over. Just go to the Zombie bar. It’s fun and you can tell your friends.

Top 5 things about Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den
1. Librarian Happy Hour is always tons of ridiculous fun
2. Weird Science – great idea, Suzie/Donny
3. Atmosphere
4. Super friendly bouncers
5. I love explaining to my friends what pinheads are and then having them look at me in horror

Bottom 5 things
1. This place would be to Gerd what Psycho Suzie’s is for me – the perfect bar. I’m super sorry she missed out on this one
2. This place will fill up fast and you’ll be standing in a few feet of snow in the next few weeks
3. It’s more scary monster or mad scientist-themed than zombies, but let’s not split hairs here
4. For having tons and tons of liquor, they still didn’t have some of my staple girly drink fixin’s
5. It’s not a place for a cheap drink, but they seem to be doing a pretty solid business


Ruby said...

THAT'S what I forgot to ask you last night. What the Weird Science ingredients were. Now I will never know!

Chao said...

It's top secret, although I wonder if they still have that index card at the bar. I forgot to write my name on it, so it won't be under Chao or anything awesome like that.

Ruby said...

You will tell me :-)