When The Royal Mile opened in 2001, Court District wasn’t the happening place it is today. The Royal Mile helped lead the charge of cool bars downtown and is still going strong today. The Mile has an insane assortment of Scotch and a selection of UK beers that extends well beyond Guinness.
Upstairs, The Red Monk offers a more low- key drinking experience, with high-alcohol content Belgian beers on tap and in bottles. You may not be able to pronounce them, but you will enjoy them.
9:13 p.m. I walk into The Royal Mile and take a seat at the bar. I’ve been meaning to widen my knowledge of Scotch, and after chatting with the bartender and setting a $10 limit I decide on 12-year Balvenie DoubleWood.
Before I drink, the bartender offers to let me smell the cork. I think that’s the first time that’s ever been offered to me. I thought only fictional, snooty French waiters did that.
9:17 p.m. Hockey is playing on the bar’s TVs, though no one seems particularly interested. The jukebox is also playing, but it’s much quieter than the roar of conversation. The Royal Mile is a place you come to talk, and talk loudly.
9:19 p.m. Next to me a group of men in suits is talking business, while just behind me a table of guys in shorts and T-shirts is talking movies. The film “Suicide Kings” is their current topic of conversation.
9:23 p.m. The “Suicide Kings” table lets out a loud bellow. I listen a bit and pick up that someone is impersonating Kevin Pollak. I think they may have moved on to “The Usual Suspects.”
9:32 p.m. As I leave the restroom I see an anarchy symbol with “is for lovers” underneath it. Isn’t that sweet. I walk upstairs to The Red Monk.
9:34 p.m. The Red Monk is kind of quiet, with bartender Eric Selander, 29, holding down the fort. I know he’s a beer expert, so I ask for a suggestion. He steers me toward the Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale.
Selander tells me it’s a Flemish-style beer, aged for almost a year in an oak barrel with a variety of yeasts. It’s got a bit of a vinegar quality, but in a good way. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
9:44 p.m. A couple comes up and asks Selander for a Moscow Mule. He tells them he doesn’t have the copper cups for that and talks them into beers. He asks the woman her favorite type of beer, and she responds “Bud Light.”
“I can get you a glass of water,” Selander says. He ends up steering them toward some Gulden Draak. Selander and the couple discuss whether Belgium or the Czech Republic has more beer drinkers per capita, then the conversation turns toward Freemasons.
10:04 p.m. I say goodnight to The Red Monk and head downstairs, where the Mile has also emptied out a bit. I close my tab, happy that the Scotch and the Belgian beer in my stomach seem to be getting along.
The Royal Mile/The Red Monk
Find it: 210 Fourth St.
Hours: Royal Mile: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon-2 a.m. Sunday. Red Monk: 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.