My friend Kat wants to open a business called Catharsis. The now not-so-secret business concept being that adults would pay a bounce house/trampoline park-like fee, put on safety gear, and throw plates and breakable items against walls. Sledgehammers may or may not be involved depending on insurance issues. Open to all adults, but who are we kidding?–the place would be stocked full of yoga pants wearing moms that have to leave at exactly 11:20am to get to the preschool pick-up lane in time. Catharsis: because meditation and medication is not violent enough for your inner adult rage.
This business plan is fraught with problems of course, and yet, still genius. Much like Town Pump.
I had never been. Pre my writing this column, my Fort Collins drinking exposure has been somewhat contained to The Rio and various dive bars on karaoke nights. I love karaoke. You would think as someone that loves karaoke, Jell-O shots and booze soaked cherries wouldn’t be far behind. Yet I had never tried those either. All of this said, I will probably never again write a review as non-bias as this one. I was flying blind. Coming in hot. Like a kid in a candy store. I was, in effect, every idiom that has ever graced the virtual pages of Urban Dictionary.
Does the word “adventure” fill you with equal parts excitement and terror? Does the idea of throwing-up in an Old Town parking garage sound character-building to you? Do you celebrate “poor choices” as life experience? Are you still self-medicating away a bad childhood?
Me too. Welcome to Catharsis. Welcome to Town Pump.
Established since 1909, The Pump’s tiny space is “decorated” to remind you of it’s historical significance in Fort Collins. From what I understand however, everyone has their own personal history associated with this bar and their cheap liquid seduction/sedation. They are proud to have two exclusive beers on tap, including the trendy rye ale, Oskar Blues Town Pump Rye’d. As an aside, the women’s bathroom is a must-visit: suck it in and bring a Sharpie.
In a space about the size of my bedroom, there are 26 seats if you count before you order, and somewhere between 11 and 78 after. I found that this number seems to vary most based on A.) who you are there with, and B.) how many Atomic Cherries you add to the equation. None of this matters of course because you guys want to hear about the food. This site is dedicating to feasting, after all. How dare I speak of anything beyond a proper steak or a creamy cheese sauce that offers both dining ideas and options, and a staggering descriptive word usage I had to forage thesaurus.com for, to ensure not repeating myself (search > hunt > forage).
There is no food at Town Pump. Unless you count the cherries, which I’m not convinced were actually grown on trees in this lifetime. There is also not a credit card machine, so budget an ATM fee where you will stop on your way to the 2 foot by 2 foot bathroom.
I attended the five hour long event that are the hours of happiness at Town Pump on three separate occasions, each time with a designated driver for both my emotions and ride home. My dear friend Andy, who had also never done a Jell-O shot, the Judd Nelson to my Molly Ringwald, and a guy who claimed to be six feet tall and was about as much that as I am Kim Kardashian West.
Andy, being such a responsible adult by nature, brings out the most irresponsible version of me. He isn’t going to let anything bad happen and I’m just the sort of influence to test that to the limit. Walking into Town Pump two virgins on a Thursday afternoon, we may as well been obviously Amish, but the stares were minimal. We ordered Jell-O shots and water like kids with a fake IDs and a curfew. I think the shots were red and purple, but I could be wrong. I’m relying on a lot of photographic evidence for this review.
The smooth gelatinous top note was subtle while the emulsified fruity end proved stronger…….you guys, they tasted like Jell-O and vodka. What do you want me to say? I enjoyed the toothpick placed in the middle of the mold to help scrape that bad boy out. I found the best method to be loosening the edges with the pick before trying to dump it down your throat. The differences in Jell-O flavor are hardly noticeable under the booze. There is only so much I can say about a Jell-O shot, no matter how well it’s done (assuming there are levels—I have no idea).
Forced to return to adulting, Andy closed out our $5 tab and got me home in the best shape I’ve left Town Pump yet. I detailed the entire experience on Facebook and everyone was all, “Why didn’t you try the moonshine? Why didn’t you get the cherries?” Because we didn’t know, okay? Your first time is rarely more than the bare essentials and I was just glad we parted that day still friends.
Back I went, this time adding the only ingredient this party was missing: a 45 year old man with a tongue piercing I found on Tinder (that’s where you find those, by the way). We started with a room temperature White Lightening moonshine shot. Moonshine, I learned, is best served cold. Much like the other dish I’m serving here. That first kiss (of warm moonshine) had all the markings of regret at first taste, but there I was anyway despite knowing better. On this trip they had restocked their speciality Town Pump Pail Ale, a pale brewed just for The Pump by O’Dells, and I had a pint of that too. Standing on the tracks despite seeing the train coming, I also had several Atomic Cherries. The beer was crispy, the company was fake, and the maraschinos cherries like plastic soaked in rubbing alcohol. But in a good way.
On my favorite trip to Town Pump, Jeff ordered us what we will call The Full Shit Show: Pink Lemonade and Apple Pie moonshine shots, a rainbow of boozy gelatin options, and a glass of those damn cherries. The pink lemonade moonshine whispered gently in my ear, You wanna tussle? We can tussle. We can tussle all night. Or maybe that was Jeff. The Apple Pie punched me square in the face with the brutal flavor of Mistake. I suppose the rest tasted like they tasted the two other times, though they didn’t because company is everything.
Town Pump is the tattooed bad boy you dated. You’ll catch hell for loving him, no one will understand the appeal, and when you meet his friends you’ll be humming one of these things is not like the other from Sesame Street. But I’ve found that the bad boy is often a blast, welcomes you in his life, writes you songs, and accepts you exactly as you are.
Even if it’s shitfaced drunk in Old Town at 9pm.
124 North College Avenue
Parking: Old Town Parking.
Healthy Options? N/A.
Budget-Friendly? Likely the most budget friendly drinking you can do in Old Town.
Recent Health Inspection: Good.