For absolutely no apparent reason, the Albatross popped into my mind yesterday. I think it was because January 28 was the 38th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I was attending college at Mankato State University when it happened. I vividly remember standing in the hall between classes, watching a TV screen in disbelief.
The Albatross (or simply “The Tross) was our go-to drinking establishment. Mainly because it was one of few within walking distance of MSU’s campus and the apartment complexes which surrounded it. The other places were either downtown or on Madison Avenue. Even in those days, you had a pretty good chance of getting a DWI in Mankato since police presence was heavy during the late night/early morning hours. So, The Tross won by default. It was your typical 1980s college bar: nothing special, just a convenient place to drink with friends.
Like most bars, they did have nightly specials. The most infamous of which was “KING KAN NIGHT!” Miller Brewing Company had recently introduced 32 ounce cans of Miller High Life. Dubbed ‘King Kan’, they soon became popular with young drinkers for an obvious reason: a lot of beer for a little cash. I think they were priced at $2.75. That works out to 8.6 cents per ounce, the equivalent of just $1.03 for a standard 12 ounce can of beer. Such a deal! Occasionally, we’d have contests and make bets on who could drink the most King Kans. I never made it past 3. Or if I did, I certainly don’t remember anything about it! After bar close, we’d stagger next door to Rocky Rococo’s for pizza if we had enough money left. If not, we’d opt for the 99 cent 1/4 lb Mushroom Swiss burgers at Hardee’s. If someone was foolish enough to drive afterwards, we’d head for Zantigo (now Zanz) on Madison Avenue. Good times!
Unfortunately, I cannot find any photos of Mankato’s infamous Albatross bar. If you have some that are not too incriminating, I’d love to share them here. Please comment below or e-mail me directly. Here’s to King Kan Night, one of my favorite college rites of passage. Cheers!