On a wind-chilled Thursday, Brendan and I decided to have a "brodeo" at Bar Bill after looping the loop of the central section of East Aurora. A vintage red neon sign lit the way, and we walked into a wall of sound, grabbed the two bar stools left in the building, ordered up some drinks and got ready to whet our whistles.
Mike (our funny and engaging bartender) got us a glass pitcher of Molson Light and a double of Knob Creek that was more of a triple for a delightfully recession-proof $15. An extreme snowboarding competition aired in crystal clear definition on a mammoth flat screen on the better half of the back wall, and the general noise level hit the low end of deafening as popular bars are so often privy to. Six impeccable rows of clean glass mugs lined the back wall of the bar with a who's who of names and years below them. This is what's known as a "mug club."
After 9 p.m., a steady stream of women who appeared to be single began settling into the general fray. I have honestly never witnessed this sort of phenomenon. Brendan was mute with either awe or a shy demeanor. A brunette and her friend commandeered twin Cosmopolitans with a twist of lemon from aesthetically pleasing and philanthropically large martini glasses. At the same time, a table of guys continued to get progressively louder as the evening marched on, but such is the nature of the beast in my experience in this area.
I took my sweet time smoking a cigarette on the snow-capped stone patio out front and admired the small-town ideal of the East Aurora shopping district with a quaint row of mom-and-pop storefronts and well-placed and sequestered trees. In the time it took me to find a pocket away from the harsh winter winds, six to eight more people found their way in through the entrance while I paced and took in all of the surrounding sensory delights.
Brendan closed out our evening by buying each of us a Guinness, which Mike poured to near-perfection while riffing some jokes with us and scanning the crowd for refills. By 10 p.m., there wasn't a spare seat along the rail or at any of the tables scattered throughout the rest of the establishment.
A wooden placard above the jukebox was emblazoned with these words of wisdom: "A friend is someone who knows all about you and likes you anyway." I found it ironic that I was with one such friend for a perfect evening out at a bar that has outlasted so many others with personable service, an improbable mix of customers and a time-honored formula. Great bars don't stay in business by mistake.
185 Main St., East Aurora
Scene: A stellar blend of folks mingling comfortably.
Music: An Internet jukebox amidst the roar of a full house.
Dress Code: Mix it up.
Drinks: Your standard fare on tap and three shelves of high society on the cheap as far as liquor goes.