Daily drink specials and three shuffleboard tables provide End Times buffer
Published: February 1, 2012
In John O'Brien's novel The Assault on Tony's armed alcoholics lock themselves in a bar while a race riot destroys the city outside. In the movie Shaun of the Dead a group of friends adjourns to a favorite pub whilst a zombie apocalypse gnaws London to bits. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy kicks right off with the protagonists heading to the local tavern in anticipation of the Earth's demolition. Different texts, different approaches to a question that suits both our unsettled times and our settled bars: Where would you want to be when the world ends?
The subject of this review is Fiasco Cocktails, a neighborhood bar on Thousand Oaks, tucked into a shopping center behind a Dairy Queen. It's not my bar, and it's statistically improbable that it's your bar, but walking in it's clear that there are a number of people who would happily drink through the End Times at Fiasco's bar or among its many entertainments. Old booze signs climb the high walls, short runs of wall and floor cabinets try not to look too conspicuously domestic near the bar tables. A microwave and a couple of those Sharper Image lightning balls sit on a countertop. Loads of industrial carpeting. In short, Fiasco looks like someone converted their garage into a game room and then kept going, spreading Sunday afternoon throughout the entire house. Perhaps it's not the kind of bar you take a date to, or the kind of bar you stage your bachelor party at. But this is one of those bars you just go to, as if there's only one road, and your home is at one end, and that bar is at another (and in between are zombies).
The staff and the patrons are friendly, beer comes in "Fiasco Cocktails" koozies, and based on the condiments arranged on another stretch of countertop, the free buffet Monday-Friday is quite popular. Everywhere, the sense of the familiar, even on a first visit. My sense is that Fiasco has succeeded for 30 years in a practically lightless strip mall because of three things: the aforementioned comfort level; the endless rotation of drink specials; and the draw of entertainments. These include live bands, televised sports, and competition: from Texas Hold 'Em, darts, bingo, and tournaments on Fiasco's three(!) shuffleboard tables.
But the real reason for Fiasco's longevity is this: it exceeds in most ways the experience of being at home without adding any new stressors. This isn't spray tans and graphics tees, it isn't Stêfån the Moldovan-born mixologist, it isn't high-gloss mating rituals, it isn't tapas. You don't have to come here and try, is what I'm saying. Which is all one really, finally, needs in a bar — all those pretensions of society falling away, much as they will when society itself comes tumbling down. At that time, those with a bar to go to will appreciate an oblivion of their own making. •
2250 Thousand Oaks, Ste 108
The whole range, young and old, keeping their own little comfy corner of the universe fresh for the End Times.
A go-to for bar gamers, with pool, shuffleboard, video golf, and darts, plus the regular tournaments for shuffleboard and Texas Hold 'Em. And better than being at home.
Daily $2-$3 liquor specials, $2.50 Shiner
> Email Brandon R. Reynolds