John L. Sullivan was a true sports superstar. Not only was “The Boston Strong Boy” more famous than every other professional athletes of his day, he was also the highest-paid athlete in the world, according to Wikipedia.
A famous and very successful bare-knuckle boxer in the 1880s and ’90s, he is noted for being the last London Prize Ring Rules champion and the first gloved boxing champion. He won some 450 largely unsanctioned fights in his career, as well as 40 of 44 sanctioned fights, 24 by KO. He lost his final fight when he was knocked out by James J. Corbett at New Orleans’ Olympic Club in 1892.
He was, by all accounts, a very impressive Irish-American.
Also very impressive and Irish-American is the bar named for him, Sullivan’s Bar. There’s nothing technical about this knockout. Located in the classy-but-casual Blackstone neighborhood, Sullivan’s is just the right combination of those traits. You don’t have to wear a tux, but you might want to change out of your barn clothes around here. People make an effort in the Blackstone. Even on St. Paddy’s, one of Sullivan’s busier days, you would want to aim for “casual country club cotillion,” “Saturday morning yacht club” or “non-holiday church” clothes.
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Sullivan’s is all shiny, renovated wood and brick with a decidedly saloon-ish feel to it. Antique lovers, take note of the back bar — which was built in the 1930s by German manufacturer Brunswick — and the fully restored shuffleboard table that used to reside at the old 49’r.
My commanding officer on this mission was combat veteran and United States Army cybersecurity expert Mark “The Colonel” Schonberg. The Colonel was in town for some top-secret meeting or other and was really pushing the envelope on chatter a bartender should have to tolerate. Our very patient bartender was Eddie. He gave us a little recent history and a generally good conversation. I appreciated Eddie’s steadfastness. Tip him and all servers well, please.
The Colonel was all about his Guinness that night. I had a Smithwick’s and a Dale’s Pale Ale. Four pints came to $21.50, which I considered a great deal, as the Colonel paid. All pints are between $3 and $5.50.
We drank the first pints at the bar, but the second round was taken out back on Sullivan’s back patio. Indoor kids and some smokers will appreciate that this space is well-covered and feels as much like an interior space as you’re likely to find in a smoking section.
On tap are Blue Moon, Infusion Vanilla Bean, Knee Deep Breaking Bud, Bell’s Official, Brickway Raspberry Hefeweizen, Stella Artois Cidre, Dale’s Pale Ale, Stella Artois, Smithwick’s and Guinness Stout, as well as Bud Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Specials are $1 PBRs on Monday, $2 domestics on Tuesday, $1 off imported and craft beers on Wednesday, and $5 Pabst Blue Ribbon on Karaoke Thursdays.
A very good time was had by all. The Colonel and I hope to see you there sometime.
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The Spillway in Council Bluffs is always family-friendly. There is an ATM, pool, darts, 11 TVs, free Wi-Fi and — the best idea ever — a Breathalyzer by the door reminding you to stay safe and never drive buzzed. Click here to read more.
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