With spring finally upon us, thoughts of the resumption of my warm weather rituals buzz around my head. Winter has a tendency to make us picture our favorite bars, pubs, and clubs as doubly enjoyable during the warm seasons. The dreaded journey outside for a phone call or cigarette is a constant reminder of how much better things will be during spring and summer.
Now that March has rolled around, I particularly look forward to visiting one of my favorite little Midtown dives, Drake’s Tavern. Practically hidden on Cherry Street, right next to the now defunct Jazzmo’s Bourbon Street Cafe, this extremely narrow pub is still one of Tulsa’s best-kept secrets. Although it seems more people are aware of its presence now than two or three years ago, the place just keeps on humming along quietly, fueled by regular patrons, who mostly seem to walk from their homes in the adjacent neighborhoods. The crowd is definitely a more mature one, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them one of the more friendly bunches in town. It’s quite apparent that most of them have known each other for quite a while; the “Cheers” vibe is definitely present.
If there is one memory of Drake’s that will pull me in at the beginning of spring every year, it’s really one of situational nirvana. It’s a memory of sitting at the bar with a few friends — Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” on the stereo — and the dull roar of a fairly packed house of laid back middle-aged folks. Oddly, I always remember both front and back doors being open and the evening just starting to set in, as well. It’s hard to do that memory too much justice in type, but it really was one of those “everything is alright” moments.
As the nights get warmer, there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll soon find myself at Drake’s again, possibly playing darts and drinking a Marshall Atlas IPA. Just as reliably as the coming of spring brings the anticipation of warm weather and trips to narrow little pubs, winter’s early sunsets will soon give way to more comfortable evenings with friends, beer, and music.
Drake’s Tavern is located at 1546 East 15th Street in Tulsa.