The LiFT — your community bar7/16/2014
Going out on a Monday or Tuesday night is distinctly different than going out on a weekend night.
On the weekend, you want loud dance music and shots; barhopping is the general rule, and if you stay in one place for too long it becomes boring.
Going to a bar early in the week, on the other hand, is about relaxing and drinking slowly. It’s about catching up with your friends about the things you don’t remember after last weekend’s shots and the projects you’re doing at work this week.
The Lift, a small place with no TVs, prides itself on being a go-to bar for people to come and socialize on any night.
“It’s a social bar,” said Dustin Smith, manager at the Lift. “It’s a place where people come to talk and have good conversation. Each night of the week is different depending on which night you’re there. Each bartender has their own thing, so every night you’re going to get something different.”
On Mondays, the entertainment rotates weekly between “oddball” movies and pub quizzes with a woman named Ramona Muse.
“She’s kind of just a local celeb around here,” Smith said. “She gets you laughing, and the door prizes are always something to be desired.”
Smith started live jazz performances on Tuesday nights back in 2010 when he moved back from New York after studying jazz himself. He described the majority of the Lift’s population as artists and musicians, which has helped make it one of the top hangouts for performers looking to break into the music scene.
A variety of local bands from the Des Moines area, especially students at Drake University, perform each week. Jazz fans return often to listen to the bands and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere where they can either claim one of the booths near the stage or the couches in the back.
Smith handed over the night to Lisa Szabo, and it was then that the $5 PB&J Tuesday night special was born. And no, I’m not talking about the sandwich. That’s a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) and a shot of Jameson. It might sound a little funky, but it’s been a popular addition.
Smith said the Lift is actually one of the top-selling bars for PBR in Iowa. When he was hosting jazz nights, his special was a $3 bourbon Old Fashioned, but he said making them for dozens of customers every week became “old fashioned” pretty fast.
The Lift draws in an eclectic crowd. It’s a different style and atmosphere than other bars in the area. Tucked into the semi-quieter area of Fourth St., it allows guests to relax and get to know new people, including the staff.
“If you’re new to town, it’s definitely a good place to belly up and meet the bartender,” Smith said. “You’ll more than likely get in a conversation with the person sitting next to you.”
For weeknight outings especially, the people behind this unique bar know how to give the public what it wants. CV
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