Bucket of Blood!

Photo by Matt Otto “Fried chicken.”

Not quite the answer we were looking for, but okay. For Sean Mulvihill, the trick to beating a hangover is a bucket of original-recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken. Still, we had hoped to find at the Harp Inn someone a little bit more experienced in that historic drinking ritual—more than 500 years old, even!—which, try as we might, we've never quite been able to master: hair of the dog. Whether it's chugging a beer or two before work when you're still cross-eyed and woozy from the previous night or downing a Bloody Mary (or Bucket of Blood, as some bars call it) first thing New Year's Day, having a little of the hair of the dog that bit you—in other words, drinking your hangover away—works wonders for the hangover you just can't shake. Or does it?

Seems like most people we chatted with preferred hangover cures of the nonalcoholic kind: Gatorade, water and aspirin, emergency vitamin packets, and (for Mulvihill) fried chicken. But we did manage to find at least one person, Dan Grennan, who swears by hair. “Let's say I'm at the airport in Dublin and I'd gone to the pubs the night before. First thing I do after check-in is head straight for the bar.” His preferred drink? Simple: “Whatever I was drinking before.”

But while Grennan might be one of the few sturdy-stomached partiers who can handle a continuous buzz, there is one alcoholic remedy we're curious about: poteen (pronounced putch-een), an Irish potato whiskey. “It's like Irish potato juice gone wild,” said one patron.

“Irish moonshine,” said another.

Only according to these drinkers, in the case of poteen, you don't need to drink it in the morning. “The next morning, you drink water—and you get drunk again.”

“Liquid Den has closed. Allremaining shows have been canceled. Goodbye.”

For many people, this message, ominously posted on the Liquid Den's website la a gravestone, was the first and only indication of the venue's abrupt closing last month. Served by property owners the morning of Dec. 11 with a three-day “pay-or-quit” notice, Den owner Jim Cline opted for the latter and quit, foregoing the remaining two years on his five-year lease.

But what might have seemed abrupt to the bands who were booked to play through New Year's Eve was, it turns out, no surprise to Cline and his friend/booking agent Lob. According to Lob, plans were already in motion for the Den to shutter after Dec. 31, when Cline was prepared to declare bankruptcy.

“It just bums us out,” said Lob, discussing the Liquid Den's long, often-fruitless battle to stay open. “We spent all of our time making it happen and being friendly and being supportive of bands. It ruined our social lives to where the Den was our social lives.”

The venue, which Cline opened in February 2001, had been a popular spot for both local and out-of-town touring bands to play. Only, as Lob feels, the local support was never there for the bands—or the bar. “The problem with people going to shows these days is they don't support the places where the shows are. People come, drink one beer and leave. I wish people were conscious of what they were doing when they came out to see a show.”

To counter this problem, Lob explained, many bars are starting to exclusively book cover bands. But for Lob, at least, the Den was never going to be that type of bar. “I really loved the Liquid Den. We were the only place that was giving a chance to up-and-coming bands,” he noted. “A place where bands could start to get a following or just play to see what it feels like to be on a stage. I don't think there's going to be anything like that in Orange County for a long time.”

However, while the Liquid Den's demise will surely be felt among the bands who played there, it appears that in the end, the county's loss will fall significantly short of those of both Cline, who has taken two liens on his house since 2001, and Lob, who in October parted with his fiancee and girlfriend of seven years and has since relocated to Sacramento.

“I've got nothing left in Orange County,” said Lob of his move. “Nothing left.”

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