Classic Dives A True Taste Of American Drinking Establishments
I often look at drinking establishments as I do people. Certain ones have particular characteristics and distinctive personalities. Yes, bars can have personalities.
In my world, there are position bars, closer bars, poser bars and hoser bars. And there are Budweiser bars.
The latter is actually a sub-category of a larger type of bar, and that is a dive bar. A Budweiser bar is a particular type of dive bar, one in which almost calls you inside to sit down at a wobbly bar stool and have a Bud. That’s because this bar is true America at its hard-working self, a place with simple people and simple surroundings. Neither the bar nor the Bud are too complex or complicated. You walk in and know exactly what to expect from both. Sometimes, we need that in life.
The beers are cheap – the Silver Spigot in San Diego’s Mission Bay sells a bottle of Bud for $2.75 – and there’s always room at the bar. These are not the kind of spots you hang out in all night, and in fact are best as the last bar of the evening. They are never packed, you can always walk right in and get a drink and they are open the latest the law will allow.
Some people refer to these places as classic dives and that’s fine with me, too. I call them Budweiser bars because to me, Budweiser means American beer and combining the two makes me stop and smile at being an American.
These dive bars and Budweiser are as American as the Fourth of July. They go together like fraternities and sororities. Are one of America’s classic duos, like Montana and Rice, Jordan and Pippin, Lewis and Martin, Thelma and Louise. Norm and the Cheers bar. Willie Nelson and a guitar.
There’s nothing trendy in these places. In fact, they all pretty much look the same – long bar, several neon beer signs cluttering the walls, a juke box and a bar-sized pool table with, of course, a bright Budweiser light hanging over it. Power cords, plugged into visible outlets, are draping the walls to power all those neon signs.
You can close your eyes and not know which bar you are in or even which city. The people even look and act pretty much the same.
There’s usually a sign out front bearing the word “cocktails,” and a good indication you’re at the right place is if a few of the letters in “cocktail” are burned out in the sign.
Every town in America has Budweiser bars. And while some may be located in blue collar areas, others are in the middle of upscale neighborhoods. In some places, they are even local landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco.
While some dive bars become popular at night with the single party crowd, the Budweiser bars have a more basic drinking base. They have regular customers at different times of the day and night, people who are there every day at the same time. Daytime has the long-time veterans of the community and nights are for the guys who wash away the work of their dirty hands in electrical or construction jobs, mixed in with the occasional younger person trying to find their way in life who instead found their way to the bar.
Many of them are hard drinkers, and may not even be drinking Budweiser. They make love to their tonics and gin. Or scotch, whiskey or bourbon.
Me? I’ll have the Budweiser, because I am saluting the people, the place and America.
• A Classic “Budweiser Bar” In San Diego, the Silver Spigot. Click here for a review!