The cool dads’ basement
The Ducktail Lounge provides an immediate sense of familiarity. It puts you at ease. It seems like a place you’ve been to before, even when you haven’t. The walls are a medium-dark wood with plaid wallpaper, and there is a common theme of duck decorations. The pool table is ready, the fireplace is flickering away, cozy chairs await, and board games are in the corner.
Then it hits you: It feels like you’re in your friend’s dad’s basement. (The bar is actually located on ground level.) Not just any friend’s basement, but the friend whose dad keeps an immaculately stocked bar.
“One of the original owners was an attorney. He belonged to Des Moines Golf and County Club, so I think a lot of the atmosphere came from his experience,” Owner Jamison Spores says.
Spores says this atmosphere is exactly why he bought it. Spores used to work at Jimmy’s American Café (now
Gilroy’s) and enjoyed coming to the Ducktail Lounge after his shift ended. He liked it so much that he started
bartending at the Ducktail in 2003. When the ownerwas looking to sell in 2004, he became a half-owner. In
2008, Spores bought the remaining half and is now the sole owner.
“Every place I would look at opening something up, I would kind of picture this atmosphere,” Spores say. “Just because I enjoyed it so much, it just worked out great.”
The bar opened on Feb. 29, 2000, and Spores hasn’t made any major changes since taking over, aside from refreshing the drink menu. One change he is proud of is the regular live music on Saturday nights. Not just
cover bands either, but impressive local talent.
One element that sets the bar apart is its cigar offerings. Spores keeps Rocky Patel, Arturo Fuente and Macanudo in stock, as well as cigar cutters and matches. The patio has roll-down walls and space heaters so customers can comfortably smoke in the wintertime.
The bar offers all-day happy hour on Sunday and Monday, with $2.50 well drinks and domestic beers, and $2 off martinis.
“This is a great date place,” Spores says. “After dinner if you want to go and have a drink somewhere, I can’t think of a quiet bar in town you can do that besides here.” ♦