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Kissing Couzins Strangers can feel at home in a simple tavern

Soon after arriving in Couzins, I realized that I had forgotten my notebook. Thirty seconds after going to my car to retrieve my loose leaf, the wife got hit on. She's a barracuda, so she didn't take too kindly to that. Luckily, it wasn't a sign of bad things to come during our visit.

Jessica (our smiling server) poured a plain iced tea, a double of Jameson whiskey on the rocks and a pitcher of Coors Light in short order for $13.50. I loaded up the extremely reasonable jukebox (15 songs for $5) with Johnny Cash, the Dixie Chicks and Willie Nelson, as it seemed like that kind of crowd. The familiar clack of one billiard ball colliding with another echoed in the main bar area. Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" sparked up the PA system while two younger guys with ponytails and tie-dyed shirts lamented the lack of eligible bachelorettes.

Being completely famished, we ordered a single of wings -- they honored my request to have them "swimming in hot sauce" -- and a single of mild chicken fingers. A laminated bar top festooned with Bills, NASCAR and Americana memorabilia (flags and such) decorated our drinking and eating area.

Half the building (the vacant half we were sitting at) was filled with red cloth and gold-decorated chairs and tables along with the now-almost-mandatory-in-bars high-definition television. The main bar area (to the right of us) hosted the aforementioned pool table, a rough yet pleasant crowd and the jukebox. Clapton's cover of "San Francisco Bay Blues" crooned through the bar while I made use of the impressively clean tile bathroom. A gigantic NASCAR pool was scrawled out on a dry erase board behind the main bar area.

After an enjoyable couple of hours, we spent the majority of our car ride talking about how we would most certainly stop back in Couzins next summer or fall. The funny thing about out-of-the-way neighborhood bars is that they seem like the kind of place where a total stranger out of his element could get into trouble if he or she dressed the wrong way or acted out of turn. One thing my wife and I have learned is that these sorts of bars are exactly the opposite. Rarely (if ever) have we had anything but a wonderful time at the little bars, the corner taverns and the mom-and-pop gin mills. Couzins was simple and unassuming in its appearance, but it fired on all cylinders as a result.

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Couzins

7115 Boston State Road, Hamburg

649-1020

Scene: Gold old boys and their ladies.

Music: Country AND Western. Live bands on Saturdays featuring the Whiskey River Band, Silver Train and Lickety Split.

Dress Code: Ripped flannels, scuffed cowboy boots.

Drinks: Limited selection, knockout prices.

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