Best Of 2010: Bartender
It takes me several days to track Dave Baumgartner. When I finally give up on reaching him by phone, I try another trick: stopping by the Rocket Room unannounced. I am greeted by the lovely and somehow motherly bartender Daniella Conner, who is wearing a red satin bustier and talks about Dave in glowing terms, her wide eyes all a-glisten.
"He's so humble," she tells me. "He listens to everyone, he has an awful lot of patience."
A guy leaned over the bar with a Miller High Life posed in front of him occasionally chips in. "He's a kick," the anonymous guy says, his voice slightly drowsy.
I, however, am not convinced that a warm personality is all it takes to be voted best bartender. There must be more to the story. I prod Conner until she gives in. "The ladies," she says, finally, "love Dave B."
In a few minutes, with Conner's help, I have Dave on the phone. I warm him up with the usual, "Why are you so popular?" "How do you connect with your customers?"
Dave plays the humble card, answering with unassuming retorts like, "That's a good question, I'm kind of mystified by that myself," and "I try to remember [people's] names, and if you can remember what they drink that's pretty impressive."
Dave is good. Real good. He acts as though he has no idea that it's his babehood that's elevated him to the top. Instead, Dave talks about the future of the bar. The Rocket Room is shutting down at the end of October unless someone buys the business.
"I kind of want to stay at the Rocket Room," he says. "This is just kind of where my heart is."
The good news is, Dave, along with all his hunkiness, is planning to stay in town and keep bartending, even if the Rocket disappears. —J. Adrian Stanley
So do you feel thirsty, punk? Well, do ya? Then head to the Rocket Room, where you can slake your thirst for both cheap booze and great music in true punk-rock style. Colorado Springs' best live ThrashabillyAmericanaGarageRock venue books tons of underground touring bands you can tell your grandkids about someday. There's also a Stooges-stocked jukebox well worth your care and feeding.
Happy hour: Wednesday-Saturday, 3-7 p.m.
The goods: $5 pitchers; $3.50 pints of Pinstripe and Arrogant Bastard; $3.50 Jameson; $3 wells
Come here if you are: "Not lame and into supporting your local businesses."