Initially, I thought the Roaring Donkey was having a bit of an identity crisis. However, the more I sat back and enjoyed my beer, the more I realized how serene the space was. Although comfortingly dark inside, like a good bar should be, the huge picture windows gave a panoramic view of Kentucky Street – a window to the world, so to speak. The warm, bright, and bustling day outside pushed a few feet in through the open doors before the cool and calm interior arrested its advance. The street sounds died out before getting deep enough into the bar to interrupt the relaxed and melodic conversations between patrons and barkeep. As afternoon turned into evening, the scene at the Roaring Donkey transformed, just as a photo negative comes to life as it takes on color. As the sky darkened and the cool fog settled in and quieted the street, the Roaring Donkey started to warm up and take on a life of its own.
At night, the large picture windows give a view into the bar, where pleasant lighting brings the wood accents and whiskey barrel tables to life. The sights and sounds of the bar spill out onto the sidewalk and beckon passers-by to join in the camaraderie. The crowd is a mix; business folks and bikers, young and old, hipster and hickster, all elbow to elbow. On one side I am flanked by an older woman, enjoying a glass of chardonnay while on the other side sits a leather-clad biker. All three of us discuss whatever local sports ball team has the greatest chance of making their playoffs. Although I love sports, I don’t tend to follow them, and am not afraid to admit it. But my new found muckers (Irish for “mate” or “friend”) don’t mind and are entertained by my self-depreciative attitude. In the back a group of youngsters is respectfully, yet methodically urging the “shot counter” up, while at the opposite end of the room a couple is enjoying “date night” at a single table quietly tucked into a front corner. Others are alternating between their turn at the pool table and the dartboard. The band is about to start so the barn doors separating the music room from the rest of the bar are eased shut. The rest of us settle in to watch a televise game, barely noticing that we are just one spoke in this wheel of activity.