Nature clearly warns you when to back off: bumblebees’ black-and-yellow coloration; rattlesnakes’ noisemakers; dogs’ bared fangs. Ignore these warning signs, and your funeral is your fault. Scary bars offer similar caution symbols. Chiefly darkened windows make your imagination skitter toward fisticuffs and filthy booze, bathroom blowjobs and coke bumps.
“Um, I’m not going in there,” my girlfriend says, gesturing toward the blood-sausage–colored windows of Meytex Lounge. A Ghana flag decorates the green awning, the only clue to its grandeur—or god-awfulness.
“It’s probably a stripper bar,” she says.
I’m experiencing an unprecedented year for glimpsing bare breasts, and my friends are tired of T and A. “It is not,” I say quietly, adding, “I don’t think.”
That inept assurance lures my girlfriend, along with several adventurous imbibers, into what we discover to be a Ghanaian bar-restaurant. Reggae and world music thump, soccer players boot balls on TV and walls are ornamented with pictures and press clippings of noteworthy Ghanaians. We perch at a petite wooden bar; behind the counter, clear fridges contain the evening’s happy juice.
Big bottles of Colt 45 malt liquor share shelf space with Heineken, Guinness and quart-size vessels of Ghana’s Gulder Lager ($6). Its label boasts, “The ultimate in beer.” To test that claim, we order four from a short, cheerful bartender-hostess-server with a West African accent thick as peanut butter.
“My sister imports these,” she says, opening our Gulder quartet. “I promise, these beers will get you drunk.”
Fifteen minutes later, the mild-mannered lager has made us loosey-goosey. We’re even unperturbed by a gentleman power-chugging mini bottles of Sutter Home zinfandel, one after another, his face growing grimmer with each drained bottle.
“You liked those, right?” the bartender says, gathering our empties like a sheep herder.
“Try this then,” she says, retrieving Africa’s Castle Milk Stout ($4). It’s Guinness’ thick, sweet cousin (thanks to an infusion of lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar). The stout’s redolent of roasted coffee, and drinks smooth as milky Nesquik. Drinking two’s a rotten notion, but one’s a rich treat. My fellow dudes have opted for deuce-deuces of Colt 45. Their labels are as faded as Billy Dee Williams’ acting career.
“They’re $3 each,” the bartender says, blatantly disregarding the printed-on price tag: $1.25.
The high price is a bite, but Meytex wins me back with its Guinness. Casual drinkers know that Ireland’s Guinness is creamier and richer than America’s quaff. But Guinness also crafts Foreign Extra Stout. It’s brewed with extra hops, meaning it’s extra potent. West African Guinness ($4) clocks in at a brain-erasing 7.5 percent alcohol (nearly double the typical 4 percent).
“It’s beautifully bitter rocket fuel,” my friend says, wincing with a sip. The bartender smiles in approval. Once more we’ve been proved wrong.
Meytex is a classic false-positive scary bar. Petrifying from the outside, its insides are as gooey as a Cadbury egg. Fear, like my love life during my early 20s, was only in our heads.
Perceived Scariness (on a scale of 1 to 10): 7; Actual Scariness: 4; Summary: Who knew Ghanaian beer was so good?
Meytex Lounge, 543-545 Flatbush Ave. (betw. Lincoln Rd. & Maple St.), Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, B’klyn,