Male Barback: “…Yeah, I didn’t want to tell you because I thought you’d be mad. Do you want me to take care of that?”
Female Bartender: “Mad? Shit no. I put it there to see which one of these drunken assholes will fish it out!”
Five minutes into our visit to the Ruckmoor Pub, we were in love.
We walked into the Ruckmoor, which is bookended by a Red Roof Inn and a used car lot, at 6:50 Friday evening and were greeted by a packed bar with a jovial crowd. When I walked into the Ruckmoor I felt as if I was getting a bear hug from a new but incredibly familiar best friend. This place simply oozes warmth and coziness.
A quick scan of the Ruckmoor reveals several foosball tables complete with their own fluorescent lights, bar seats and couches fashioned to look partially like whiskey barrels, two pool tables and a whole slew of comfy nooks to relax with friends. Thick burgundy curtains hang on the windows, presumably to block out the light for those who are enjoying a drink when the Ruckmoor opens at 5:30 a.m. Older professionals packed the bar when we arrived with a fair amount of butt-grabbing and handsy behavior for early in the evening. The Ring Toss resides as the centerpiece of the bar in a seemingly precarious spot for a game that involves drunk people throwing metal. This simple but super fun game is just a hook on a post, a metal ring on a string, and a drunk person attempting to connect the two with lucky/skillful tosses.
We started with a Busch Light and a vodka soda, which rang in for a whopping $5.25 during happy hour. ($5.75 after happy hour ended.) The drinks were poured STIFF, so watch out—you’re getting a bargain, but you don’t want to drink too quickly or you’ll let a magical night at the Ruckmoor slip right through your ring tossing fingers.
The first three songs that blared from the most high-tech Touchtunes in the history of this stretch of High were Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys, Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin and Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. This eclectic trifecta of three of my personal favorites welcomed us into a night filled with laughs, Busch Lights and dollar Jell-O shots.
We sat at one of the large heavily lacquered wooden tables in the plush leather seats that allowed us to sink right into the evening and admire the crowd. Earlier in the evening the bar was filled mostly with older professionals, but as the night wore on young folks in the know started filling in the rest of the tables.
Later in the evening the four of us moseyed to a foosball table to play a quick game, and as we turned on the light for the table, a group of young men playfully hissed at us as they wished to stay in their own corner of dark oblivion rather than be interrupted by debates over the legality of spinnies. Fortunately we kept our game short to let the gentlemen back to their quiet corner.
The table we called home for three hours was right next to The Ring Toss, so throughout the evening we took turns trying our luck. Short story: The four of us have not perfected our game. Fortunately the Ruckmoor’s resident Yoda was willing to take us on as his pet project. He gave us all sorts of unwanted (and hilarious) tips on the toss. At one point he asked a member of the group to close his eyes and “listen to the sound of the ring missing the hook. Then focus.” Every time for the rest of the night that we decided to give it another go, he swooped down to offer tutorials and stance suggestions in between his emphatic air guitar riffs.
Midway through our adventure in casual bar sports a man in his ‘60s sauntered through the door with a detective-style fedora, full trench coat, gruff expression and cigar hanging from his lips. Columbo joined the party much to our delight, and we speculated what case he was trying to crack as the cigar hung unlit between his pursed lips throughout the evening.
The Ruckmoor features great prices on buckets and pitchers, and more than once people marched away from the bar double and triple fisting buckets of beers for their tables. Prices are super reasonable, and if you’re into Jell-O shots, I highly recommend the orange creamscicle. While they don’t offer food, they do offer cookies and free Wi-fi as well as an open invitation for ordering in delivery. The bar is cash only, but several ATMs are ready for emergencies.
Everything about the Ruckmoor Pub is surreal in the best ways possible. The blue icicle lights that line the backbar featuring Spuds Mackenzie, the thin-carpeted floors and huge leather chairs on wheels, the gigantic regal crest that hangs proudly over the brick fireplace in the center of the room, The Kool cigarette machine—it all adds up to a fantastic place to belly up for the evening.
Supposedly The Ruckmoor Pub was a brothel at some point before turning into its current iteration in 1958, and the bar top features keys scattered throughout underneath the thick lacquer, supposedly from former brothel patrons. I’m just going to assume that’s a fact with no real basis, and that’s simply awesome.
Every single person that I encountered at The Ruckmoor Pub was incredibly nice, and most of them had something witty to add to the night. The service was friendly and funny, and the clientele was a hoot. When writing you should create strong characters that shape the story and drive the plot—the Ruckmoor has its characters down. My only edit in these characters would be to request that while I ordered a round the two young men at the bar debate the “realness” of my chest a little more quietly.
Cheers-style claps and namecalling greeted many of the people who walked into the Ruckmoor throughout the night, and the entire clan seemed like a large, wonderful family. Perhaps a bit drunk and dysfunctional, but aren’t most? The Ruckmoor is a loud, intoxicating bar that offers the comfort and warmth of a friends’ basement with a much more impressive cast of characters. The only thing that the Ruckmoor doesn’t seem to ever offer is any sort of judgment. I absolutely loved the Ruckmoor Pub, and I will be back—I hope not sporadically.
Finally for the record, the urinal quarter was officially gone by 9:23 p.m. Columbo’s on the case as to which of these drunken assholes fished it out.