It all started with an innocent enough proposition. “Let’s go somewhere new!” A steady stream of weekends at breweries around NoDa had left my girlfriend and me burnt out from the same options.
Hours of indecision later, we realized that apparently there were no new places we had yet to visit. Frustrated, I was about to call it a night when I noticed a glimmer of bright blue appear in the fridge. I inspected closer to see what it was and suddenly felt a rush of nostalgia. It was a Bud Light … it was a Bud Light tallboy.
Suddenly it was 2010 all over and I was in Montford throwing back wings and tallboys while almost certainly humming “Like a G6” incoherently. It’d been years since I’d ventured that way but the evening was still young and it was time to see if this late-20-something could still keep up.
This was my night:
9:45 p.m. Angry Ales
A self-proclaimed Postmates aficionado, the girlfriend had never been to Montford at night but she was more than a little familiar with the PCP Burger from Angry Ales so we decided to start the night with a bite to eat. Immediately upon walking in I was greeted by a symphony of fist bumps and Bros exclaiming, “Bro!”.
We spotted a seat on the patio and enjoyed the more subdued chatter outside. I became more and more acutely aware as I munched on my Cowboy Caviar that I was older than the patrons sitting around me. How old were these kids? Did they go to school around here? High school?
10:45 p.m. Brazwells Premium Pub
Walking back out onto Montford we decided to drop into Brazwells because it “looked classy”. While that adjective in particular is debatable, I decided to embrace my own inner 22-year-old and order us up a round of Fireball shots. The girlfriend looked at me with a mixture of concern and contempt when I brought them out to the patio. Two shots for myself later and I was definitely beginning to loosen up and enjoy the night. Unfortunately for me, the patio was tightening up at the same time as more and more patrons began to pour in and we decided to move on.
11:20 p.m. 10 Park Lanes
If you’re looking for a chance to visit one of the oldest original nightlife establishments in Charlotte, 10 Parks Lane is the place for you. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how spacious the layout of the inside was. I decided to keep chasing my youth and ordered a kamikaze shot. The bartender looked at me with a mixture of concern and contempt. I don’t think I got a kamikaze but whatever it was, it glowed in the dark and tasted like regret.
We decided to pass on bowling and instead made friends outside with a group who appeared to be drinking out of a boot-like device. It was impressive and cool and I think I high-fived everyone in the group at least twice. Maybe I could still hang after all!
12:45 AM: Moosehead Grill
Cheap beer and some of the best wings south of Buffalo make Moosehead my favorite establishment on all of Montford. Unfortunately, by this point I was in no state to enjoy the food as a mixture of grogginess and fatigue suddenly reminded me that I am mortal, a fact I questioned in years past when I would come here. I fought down a beer and watched jealously as a group of college students hopped out of an Uber in front of me, ready for a power hour that I was definitely not invited to.
1:30 a.m. Jeff’s Bucket Shop
We decided to close the night at the one location I knew would welcome an ancient old couple like us. Jeff’s Bucket Shop is nothing if not eclectic. The blaring televisions and cackling sorority laughter on Montford faded away in this underground karaoke bar. All was right with the world once again when we walked down the stairs leading into this dive.
The pleasant sound of quiet was music to my ears and soon after as random strangers began taking the stage to bellow out their own versions of “Piano Man,” I realized I didn’t need to chase my youth going to old college haunts. All of the establishments around Montford have their own unique charms and while the memories of last call and late night wings are certainly pleasant to look back on, somewhere my 22 year old self is looking back at me, saying in the words of Billy Joel, “man what are you doing here?”
Photo: Katie Toussaint, Brian Dlugosz