Last cal-Monkey Bar and Delano's

I can’t really liken Delano’s to any of the bars I’ve written about thus far. The inside is a bit like McMurphy’s in terms of lighting-a little bit dark, but not as dark as some-though that’s about where the comparison ends. When you walk in, you’ll see that there’s a decently long bar on the left, a table in the middle with barstools, and several booths on the right. There aren’t many decorations other than beer signs and a jukebox that is used very infrequently, except during peak hours. But despite the somewhat bland interior, Delano’s has a lot of character.

The bartenders are of a fairly good-natured sort, not overly talkative if they don’t know you, but friendly enough. And they mix a good drink-even alcohol distribution, a solid amount of booze, cold without overloading on ice, all that. Their pitcher pours are good, and the Bud Light is never flat. Expect glasses any time other than prime crowd time and prompt service if you belly up.

The crowd is perhaps the most fun experience. Delano’s is more of a local hangout than a lot of the other bars in town, and the patrons are certainly not the snooty ABC sort. Granted, the place fills up with college students during rush hour, but usually you won’t find it so crowded or so young during other times.

There are definitely a few guys who are chummy with the bartenders and frequent the establishment regularly, and those guys make a trip worthwhile as long as you’re willing to suck up your pride. When I was in there to do “research” for this article, they fired taunts at me, saying that I was the bottom of the barrel on the Amherst social scene for writing for the paper, no one caring what I have to say, me being a big nerd. Real stinging stuff. Not to say that I’m Captain Socialite, but anyway.

Delano’s is definitely a beer-drinking bar, though I am a fan of their mixed drinks, as I said before. On the whole, the prices are not too bad, although their pitchers are on the high side compared to other places in town. They don’t have Guinness, but a pint of Beamish is $4.00. Jack and Coke is $3.50, bottles of Bud Light $2.50, pitchers of Bud Light $7.25.

There are pool tables in the back of the bar if you’re interested in chalking up the ol’ cue. There’s a TV usually tuned to ESPN. A scratch-off vending machine is next to the jukebox in the event that you’re down to your last buck, and you’d like to try to get enough for a few more drinks. One of my favorite ways to throw away a few dollars at Delano’s is playing Keno. As someone from a non-lottery state, this game was new to me, but after I won ten bucks on my 21st birthday, it found a warm place in my heart.

The one slight drawback to Delano’s is the pub fare, mostly because there’s hardly any. They used to serve pizza (bigger than Antone’s but not nearly as good) and they serve sandwiches during the day. If you’re in at night, your only options are a bag of chips, Slim Jims, peanuts and hot dogs. But you’re close enough to Antonio’s that it’s not such a problem.

Overall, I’m a pretty big Delano’s fan: good service, laid-back atmosphere, good drinks and some chat-worthy characters. Prices are a little higher than at some of the other bars in town, but they’re not as bad as ABC’s.

If you leave Delano’s and walk about 10 steps down the street, you’ll find yourself standing in front of the Monkey Bar. Like Atlantis, the Monkey Bar is an upscale restaurant/bar for most of the day, though once the last meal has been served the tables are cleared to make way for the college crowd.

While they’re still seating for dinner, they pump jazz through the speakers and bathe the room in soft mood lighting. The décor is what you would expect from a restaurant with mood lighting and jazz. If you’re at the bar during dinner hours, you can order from the menu or grab a burger from the pub fare menu. Once the dinner guests leave, however, the lighting gets very dark and the music very loud. The Monkey Bar is more of a club atmosphere, so there’s a lot of hip-hop and a lot of dancing.

I can’t say I’ve had great experiences with the bartenders at the Monkey Bar. They’re nice enough, I suppose, but the drinks I’ve had there have been poor mixes that are almost all alcohol, the pints have been sloshed around and spilled on my hand and the service has been sub-par. The pitcher of Bud Light I had while “researching” was pretty flat, although the frosted glasses made up for that a bit. You’ll get plastic cups if you’re in there during the evening on a big night, but glasses every other time.

The crowd at the Monkey Bar during dinner hours reminds me of the ABC crowd in terms of dress and age (that is, dressed for a club or nicer and older than college age). As you might expect, or probably know, the Monkey Bar, like most of the other bars in town, fills up with college students on prime evenings. So the scene, therefore, is kind of like Delano’s, although the Monkey Bar is usually not as crowded, which is kind of nice.

Not surprisingly, most of the prices at the Monkey Bar are a little higher than most of the other bars in town. Guinness is $4.25, Jack and Coke $4.50, Bud Light bottles $2.75. But the pitchers of Bud Light are pretty cheap ($6.00), though on the flat side, as I said before. And they do have a very large selection of hard alcohol if you’re interested in trying something new.

There’s not a lot in the way of entertainment at the Monkey Bar other than the typical TV and plenty of dancing if you’re there in the evening, so don’t go expecting to play any pool.

In summary, Delano’s is much more relaxed than the Monkey Bar, and their bartenders seem to be better at what they do. If I’m going into town for drink, I’ll always go to Delano’s before the Monkey Bar. But on the plus side for the MB, it’s usually not as crowded as the other bars in town, so you can at least make your way up to the bar on a Saturday night.