Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den : Where the damned get drunk

The new N. Mpls bar makes zombies, prison shanks and severed deer heads much more fun

Tony Libera

Donny DirkâÄôs Zombie Den WHERE: 2027 2nd St. N. ItâÄôs close to midnight in North Minneapolis and something evilâÄôs lurking in the dark. No, itâÄôs not the Thriller (this time); itâÄôs Donny DirkâÄôs Zombie Den, one of the newest and most bizarre saloons to crop up in the Twin Cities. Walking into Donny DirkâÄôs 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, âÄúUndead Frank Lives.âÄù Deer heads with kerchiefs and neon pompadours adorn the walls while movies like âÄúThe Evil DeadâÄù and âÄúGrindhouseâÄù 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, âÄúIN CASE OF ZOMBIE ATTACK âÄì BREAK GLASS.âÄù âÄúThat there is a Zombie theme is a common misconception people make because it is part of the name,âÄù said Leslie Bock, proprietor of Donny DirkâÄôs and Northeast Minneapolis favorite Psycho SuziâÄôs Motor Lounge . âÄúPeople 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 isnâÄôt meant to be a âÄòtheme;âÄô itâÄôs merely an amalgamation of things that felt perfectly right for that particular space and this moment in time.âÄù 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 DirkâÄôs Zombie Den is, above all else, a watering hole and, thankfully, the drinks are strong. DirkâÄôs 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 DirkâÄôs 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 drinkerâÄôs 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 SuziâÄôs will deliver chow for an additional $2 charge. Bock perhaps sums up the bar and its attitude best: âÄúYou know what you like best, and we seek only to give it to you in our sorrowful lameness.âÄù If Donny DirkâÄôs sticks to this maxim, it is sure to succeed. That is if marauding zombies donâÄôt destroy it first.