LA CROSSE, WIS — The Crow opened at 100 3rd St. in downtown La Crosse in 2015, with one goal in mind.
“We want to be known for our bourbon selection and our upscale atmosphere,” long-time bartender Jim Jasons said, as the glow of 27 discrete televisions, all blaring college basketball, dramatically framed his silhouette. “No one else is really doing that – that’s our market.”
Since then, The Crow has been capitalizing on its prominent location and “dark-lit pub feel,” which patrons can enjoy as long as they don’t look in any of the four cardinal directions to check the score of the Badger game.
“La Crosse has enough sports bars. We don’t want to be that,” Jasons reiterated, louder this time, so he could be heard over a table of college-age men screaming at the 72-inch flat screen hanging just above their heads. “Oh, did they score again? Hey, bro, did they just score? Sick.”
According to Jasons, The Crow is proud of the vibe it’s cultivated: a vibe of the old world mixed with the new, like dumping milk into a glass of vodka and calling it a White Russian, which is – coincidentally – The Crow’s most popular drink.
The juxtaposition doesn’t seem to bother any of The Crow’s loyal patrons.
“It feels like, for a second there, they almost went with some kind of theme,” patron Andrew Lyons said, after hucking a chicken wing at the nearest TV. “Which is more than I can say for any of the other sports bars in town.”
In an effort to recommit to its low key, classic, whiskey-bar aesthetic, The Crow will be installing an MMA fighting ring in the basement, to open this summer. It can only be accessed through a speak-easy style entrance hidden behind one of the televisions.
Reporter Taylor Goodine contributed to this article.