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Belly Up

June 21, 2012
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It’s all about the people at West Port Lounge

Longtime bartender Tressa Fox serves up shots on the West Port patio during Hump Day Happy Hour.

By Amber Williams

Remember the old Zip Lock bag commercials? The Glad Lock guy asks a nerd named Rudy Laslow which bag of piranhas he’d rather have dropped into his fish tank filled with Rudy’s “little friends” — the Zip Lock, with the yellow-and-blue-make-green seal, or the other brand “that doesn’t have a seal.” Rudy, being a wise, fish-loving loser, made the obvious choice.

The Zip Lock, is also a popular choice at West Port Lounge. The dangerously delicious drink is the creative concoction of bartender Andrew Steele who says he was bored one day so he “started inventing shit.” Why is it named after a sandwich bag?

“Because yellow and blue make green,” he said. The drink — which he says is a shot, but it’s served in a rocks glass, minus the rocks, and filled to the rim so it’s more like a bomb — is green by the time the mad mixologist slides it down the bar. It’s made of… well, we don’t really know what’s in it. We know it’s blue, then he adds Red Bull, which turns it green. You just have to trust your bartender that it’s good and strong. And it’s the perfect fuel for a Friday night crowd at West Port Lounge in West Des Moines.

“It’s kind of an off-the-beaten-path, fun bar,” said owner Kim Hagar. She and her husband, Fred, also own the Ingersoll veteran sandwich shop The Manhattan Deli. That means the West Port is the only bar in the metro where you can get a tried-and-true Manhattan sandwich as well as a sweet-and-sinister Zip Lock bomb.

“We bring in different sandwiches — the Grinder for sure, but also whatever Fred wants to make — and other things like poppers and pizza,” Hagar said.

The Hagars have owned the Manhattan Deli for 31 years, but the West Port Lounge has been there for 42. They bought it seven years ago, and not much has changed over the years, according to longtime bartender and Valley Junction local Tressa Fox (whose last name is very fitting, by the way).

“She gives people trouble, and people love it,” Hagar said of her sweet and sassy pride and joy. “And she’s cute, cute, cute. People like her.”

Fox has been giving her regular belly-uppers a rough time for more than eight years, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. She works two other jobs, so slinging drinks to patrons she considers friends is more of a choice than it is a necessity, she said.

“The people here are good people, and I love who I work with; they’re all great people,” Fox said. “Valley Junction is kind of a little community. We get a lot of people who like to be-bop and bar-hop from Charlie’s and Sully’s, and there’s the farmer’s market crowd and people who work and live in the area, but a lot of our regulars come here from all over.”

Patrons can find Fox at West Port Lounge on Friday nights and Saturdays, or have Steele mix up the mystery Zip Lock on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday nights. CV


West Port Lounge

800 First St., West Des Moines


Hours: Mon.-Wed., 12 p.m.-2 a.m.; Thurs.-Sun., 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Happy Hour: Mon.-Fri., 3:30-6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12 a.m.

Capacity: 144

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