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Bringing the bar home during a pandemic

The Geiger Counter's weekend picks

It’s smiles all around at trivia night in September at HighSide Brewery in Frisco. The trivia night is now virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com
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Don’t know what to do this weekend? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Pull up a seat to the counter, and I’ll tell you about everything that’s hot and happening.

With establishments closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, beer, wine and cocktails are readily available in to-go formats. But take it from me, drinking at home alone is a poor substitute for gathering with friends for events like pub trivia. Thankfully, bars and breweries know this and have created virtual entertainment options for some semblance of normalcy. 

Aside from missing the first week because of the shutdown, HighSide Brewing in Frisco is going strong with its weekly trivia game. Hosts Ward Malek and Brett Lomoro saw musicians livestreaming concerts and figured they could do something similar with trivia.

They set up their own Facebook page separate from the brewery, called HighSide Trivia, and kept the same format as before: three rounds of six questions with a final bonus round of wagering points.

However, the time is earlier than usual — 5 p.m. Wednesdays — because the virtual nature means teams can come from anywhere so they wanted to be more accommodating to folks on the coasts. They’ve had players from as far away as Canada and viewers from Australia.

“We’ve had an amazing turnout,” Malek said. “We’ve had a much larger turnout virtually than we ever did in the restaurant.”

The game operates on an honor system as a link to a Google submission form is sent to players. Prizes aren’t given out at the moment, but Malek and Lomoro are keeping track to do something special once life gets back to normal. They’re also thinking of giving gift cards to the winning teams from out of town to entice them to visit. So far, the real prize has been the hosts witnessing the community come together and raise money each week for local families in need.

Inspired by Malek and Lomoro, Breckenridge’s Rocky Mountain Underground has joined in on the fun. They also rely on the honor system at 5 p.m. each Thursday on the @RMUBreck Instagram page as teams answer 30 questions via Google forms.

The relaxed games have been evolving over the weeks as the organizers find their footing. For instance, first prize is always $20 to Rocky Mountain Underground, but second and third prizes can range from toilet paper to puzzles to board games.

“We’ve just been trying to figure out any way we can to keep people from being bored,” said Olympian Keri Herman, one of the trivia hosts.

If you’re missing your favorite bartender and their crafty concoctions, you can take a stab at learning the ways of mixology with Breckenridge Distillery. At 4 p.m. every Tuesday, CEO Bryan Nolt and Head Distiller Hans Stafsholt do a virtual tasting, and there are tours at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday. But the fun begins at 7 p.m. Thursdays with a class from Liquid Chef Billie Keithley making cocktails.

Recipes are sent out ahead of time, so you can prepare your pantry and then tune into the workshop to watch the magic happen. She’s taught people how to make a Miner’s Manhattan, Summit Side Car, Flutterby Potion, Obi-Wan Old Fashioned and more.

What I’m Playing

‘Hey Robot’

Months ago I backed the tabletop game “Hey Robot” on Kickstarter, and while I’m still waiting for my physical copy in the mail, there is a free quarantine version online that’s just as fun.

As seen on “The Tonight Show,” the game is similar to “Codenames” or “Taboo” where someone says a phrase in hopes of another person saying the right keyword to score a point. However, that other person is a smart speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

The most entertaining moments come from the near-misses since the machines aren’t actually that smart. I asked about Misty Copeland in hopes of Alexa saying “ballerina,” but it instead said “ballet dancer.” When trying for the word “barn,” asking “Where do cows live?” had the computer rattle off various countries. It’s simple yet challenging and all that’s needed is one’s favorite video conferencing software and AI.

Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit.


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