Irish Bridge Bomb

Pat's Bar & Grill, 6400 Oakland Avenue; 314-647-6553.

Apr 25, 2007 at 4:00 am
Brian moved to St. Louis from San Diego less than a year ago. He's acclimated well; he owns Cardinals and Mizzou shirts, can correctly identify hoosiers, and can impersonate the St. Louis accent that many people mock but few actually have: sharts, farks, Highway Farty. "That is so St. Louis," he'll say incredulously every once in awhile, like when he discovers church rummage sales sell beer. This time, it's because Pat's Bar & Grill in Dogtown is feting the demolition of the Tamm Avenue overpass with what they're calling Irish Bridge Bomb shots: "That is so St. Louis."

We aren't big on shots, particularly those with "bomb" in the name. These are in neon-green plastic glasses — the size that's always served with fizzy punch at baby showers — and with built-in shot glasses anchored to their bottoms, they resemble tiny bundt-cake pans. Pat's owner Joe Finn pours Guinness into the cup, pours Jägermeister into the shot glass and hands us a small bottle of Baileys to dump in right before doing the shot. "People have also started calling it a Tamm Bamm," he says. Joe's wearing a commemorative T-shirt, a cartoon depiction of the bridge's fiery demise. He sold out of them hours ago. Brian shoots his Irish Bridge Bomb like a champ. He said it reached the consistency of a milkshake — fast — and vows we'll puke. We resolutely fork over $4 to Joe.

"Say the drink was ‘da bomb!'" urges a friend, pleased with her pun. And to a point it was: We pinch our nose like a child taking medicine, completely forget to add the Baileys, and, after two gulps, feel an explosion well in the back of our throat and unceremoniously spit the drink back into its container. Wiping away tears, we find our way back outside.

People love explosions, destruction, breaking things. Jenga wouldn't exist if they didn't, and nobody would twist in their seats and applaud when waiters drop plates of food on tile floors. And tonight, such people crowd Dogtown: on hillsides in front of their homes, crammed in front of Pat's, spilling from the sidewalks into the street. Most are drinking beer, a few, Champagne straight from the bottle. On an adjacent block, enthusiastic spectators are trying to start the wave.

Suddenly, a couple loud pops, and the 44-year-old bridge crashes straight down, coming to rest in a lazy slope, like a roller coaster's track toward the end of its run. There's a beat of awed silence from the crowd, and then wild cheers rise with the dust. The crowd rushes en masse across Oakland Avenue, hops the headless concrete snake in Turtle Park and treks through the long, soft grass to the chain-link fence just feet from the highway. Cameras flash, Silly String sprays, and demo workers in hardhats and bright green vests gamely hand out pieces of the doomed bridge to the enraptured crowd.

"There's nothing to do in this town, so people are like, ‘Let's go watch them blow up a bridge and get drunk!'" one onlooker complains loudly. Drink of the Week doesn't see it that way. Tipsy, we stick our fingers through the fence, hoping for a piece of Farty.