By: Ashley Jackson
We’ve all heard the song, Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name made popular by the sitcom, Cheers. We might not know another line in the song but the chorus is all too familiar. Well, thousands of miles away from the popular Boston watering hole is a similar location. In the heart of downtown Springfield, MO is lively and friendly establishment where at one time everybody knew my name. Tropical Liquors better known as Trops was where I learned the things you couldn’t obtain from the classroom in college, shared countless good times with friends, and managed to leave an impression or two.
There were periods of college where next to nothing was stable and life was a bit of a blur. I didn’t know how I was going to finish a research project, make it to my classes or pull of the semester. The only way I knew to make sense of anything during these turbulent times was to escape from it all. The destination was Trops. They say it’s always sunny and 75 degrees at Trops, which if you ask me is the perfect setting to get away from reality in. You see there are certain elements of Trops that create that sunny disposition. Springfield could be undergoing a snowstorm and in the midst of a terrible wintery mix but when you walk into Trops suddenly it all goes away. Feelings of costal breezes, warm sun kissing your skin while you relax in hammock on a sandy beach overcomes you. Well, maybe not immediately but after Kitty (great friend and renowned Trops bartender) pours you a few drinks you become emerged in that beach like feeling. Since graduating college and leaving Springfield I haven’t quite found another bar that creates this atmosphere and I miss it. Trops offers things that you won’t find at any other bar.
As I mentioned Trops is where I would go when I wanted a break from reality needed something reliable. It was never complicated because I knew I had a handful of friends who would ditch what they had going on and join me at Trops. One of those people was of course, my BFF Bridget. I like to think of us a traveling good time. I’m sure you know the type they walk into a party and take it from lame to insane in a matter of minutes. I’m not sure if the Trops bartenders felt the same way or if it was more like “great here comes the shit shows, I wonder which one of them is going to be a blackout mess first”. Nevertheless, they always welcomed us with open arms, most of them anyway. One of those who always seemed blissful to see the party train was Keith AKA “Keiffer”. He serves as the MIZZOU loving, Fox News enthusiast, creator of Dem Panties resident bartender at Trops. I feel it only fitting to start with “Dem Panties” since Keith pitched this blog idea to me. (Thanks Keith)
Dem Panties is a shot that can only be found at Trops. Honestly, I don’t think it’s even on the drink menu. I learned this because Bridget would attempt to order it from other bartenders but they had no clue what language she was speaking. Still to this day I have no idea what’s in Dem Panties besides Bacardi 151. All I know is one day Keiffer started pouring it for us and we never let him stop. Dem Panties became a ritual for Bridget, myself and whoever was along with us. If Keith was working when we came in it became as simple as a nod, which became code for Dem Panties.
Adding to the long list of lessons learned after college, you don’t get the sort of service I was accustomed to at Trops anywhere else. Bartenders are not privy to exchange nonverbal communication for shots. It’s a social norm to just order items on the drink menu. Bartenders have real names and they don’t really like to be called anything else.
I guess you could say Trops raised my standards for all bars to come. So far it’s looking pretty grim. In a perfect world, I’d like to think when I return for a visit Keith will be there waiting for me with a shaker of Dem Panties.
$3 Jack and Coke
To be honest my relationship with Trops would not have existed if it were not for Kathryn, who will now be referred to as Kitty. In college, Kitty and I became friends through Phi Sigma Pi (an org we both were a part of). You know how you meet those people you just click with? Kitty is exactly that kind of friend. Well, she got a job slinging drinks at the Ye Ole’ Tropical Liquors and that’s where it all began for me. Since she always was working during prime going out times I began starting out my night at Trops so I could still see her even know she couldn’t bar hop.
Kitty taught me many things but one of the most important was that Trops offered a $3 Jack and Coke. This may sound absurd to some of you reading this and it should. The well whisky at Trops is Jack Daniels. (Insert Gasp) Needless to say I’ve never found this sort of deal anywhere else. Since leaving Springfield, I haven’t paid less than $8 for a Jack and Coke.
I don’t know any better way to describe my affair with the $3 Jack and Coke other than it was the best of times and the worst of times. Surely fellow whisky drinkers know what I mean by this.
My closest friends know how I feel about senior citizens. I have like the softest spot in America for them. I’m not sure if by what I’ve written if i’ve accuratly painted the picture that Trops is esseentially your typical college bar. It has its fair share of Greek Life, hipsters, and randoms. It offers variety of games, billiards, and jukebox music. With this being said it also offers Buck. Buck’s a retired military man who frequents Trops more often than most twentysomethings. You could always find him at the end of the bar with his walker by his side. His beer came at a reduced price and with a limit.
I used to always ask Kitty questions about him. I guess you could say he fascinated me. Here in the midst of all these wild college kids was a sweet looking war veteran. Eventually I started chatting up ol’ buck. I never really knew what saying but when he giggled it made my heart melt. I know most bars have their crowd of older gentlemen that serve as regulars but none like Buck.
Markie Mark—another great bartender at Trops. He was the kind that could always read your mind. When it get to the point of the night where you had already drank more than you should but you wanted something else and didn’t know what, Mark could pour just what you needed. He was always good for a spare cig or a laugh too. It hasn’t quite been a year but I’ve still yet to find another bartender with the same charm as Mark.
Max—I don’t have much to say about Max. He perplexed me. I don’t know if it was his hair band dance moves or his Brett Michaels esque. He was bizarre and something/someone I haven’t ran across outside Trops.
Michelle—rumple. Enough said.
Tropical Liquors provided me with some priceless college memories. It was that place where everybody knew my name, where the drinks were strong, and my questionable behaviors were never frowned upon. A time of life when things were much more care free, appointments could be blown off and Trops was my safe haven. Serving as my sunny and 75-degree getaway, I don’t believe will ever be replaced.
Here you have it, my ode to Trops!