Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den
WHERE: 2027 2nd St. N.
It’s close to midnight in North Minneapolis and something evil’s lurking in the dark. No, it’s not the Thriller (this time); it’s Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, one of the newest and most bizarre saloons to crop up in the Twin Cities.
Walking into Donny Dirk’s is a striking experience due in large part to the wild décor. Old-fashioned chandeliers hang from the ceiling, providing just enough light for one to survey the tiger print carpet lining the floor. Glowing green ghoul script creeps above the bar reading, “Undead Frank Lives.” Deer heads with kerchiefs and neon pompadours adorn the walls while movies like “The Evil Dead” and “Grindhouse” play on the flat screens next to them. The only overtly zombie-related article is a glass-enclosed chainsaw (that had been recently used, if the hair on the blade is any indication) that reads, “IN CASE OF ZOMBIE ATTACK – BREAK GLASS.”
“That there is a Zombie theme is a common misconception people make because it is part of the name,” said Leslie Bock, proprietor of Donny Dirk’s and Northeast Minneapolis favorite Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge . “People will of course see and identify with certain concepts happening at the same time: San Quentin prison, 1980s fancy zombies, retro Vegas, 1970s porn, speakeasy, etc. There really isn’t meant to be a ‘theme;’ it’s merely an amalgamation of things that felt perfectly right for that particular space and this moment in time.”
The conceptual cocktail blends for an atmosphere that is both fun (the bathroom evokes the San Quentin vibe with its industrial walls, a black toilet and even a hilarious barred case full of handcrafted prison shanks) and comfortable with its custom-upholstery and cozy physical space.
Ornaments aside, Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den is, above all else, a watering hole and, thankfully, the drinks are strong. Dirk’s offers a massive selection of alcohol that includes some top-choice liquor and beer selections ranging from standards like Michelob to hard-to-find-at-a-bar brews like Delirium Tremens and the Steadman -ornamented Gonzo Imperial Porter.
One of Dirk’s more unique drink features is called the Weird Science. Patrons can choose up to eight ingredients from a sprawling list that includes various types of liquor, flavored syrups and extracts of ginger and cinnamon. One can even add chocolate sprinkles and caramel sauce should the inclination arise. After the concoction is devised, the skilled bartenders make it a reality. Weird scientists then get to name their drink and the staff puts the recipe on file for future visits.
Those craving foodstuff should be warned: this is a drinker’s bar. However, patrons that are so hungry they could eat, say brains, can put in an order on the Bat Phone (think 1960s camp Batman ) and big sister Psycho Suzi’s will deliver chow for an additional $2 charge.
Bock perhaps sums up the bar and its attitude best: “You know what you like best, and we seek only to give it to you in our sorrowful lameness.” If Donny Dirk’s sticks to this maxim, it is sure to succeed. That is if marauding zombies don’t destroy it first.