The dive bar has long been a staple of the American drinking scene, but what makes a dive a dive? In a nutshell, it’s a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall whose only saving grace is cheap booze, and plenty of it. Recently, there’s been a trend of places trying to achieve that “dive bar feel” with lighting and decor, but they’re missing what it really takes. Here’s how to spot the fakes and zero in on the real deal.
You're not in a dive bar if...
1)…You pay more than $5 for a beer. You go to a dive bar for cheap beer and specials, and if anything costs more than a fiver, they’re doing it wrong.
2)...There’s not at least one person who’s obviously been sitting at the bar since 11 AM. The guy who looks like he woke up at the place and hasn’t left? The mascot.
3)...Credit cards are accepted. “Cash Only” is the official motto of the dive bar.
4)...There’s a food menu. A dive doesn’t have space for a kitchen. If you’re hungry, look for bags of chips and dirty water dogs.
5)...The bartender asks what kind of whiskey you want. The default is whatever’s in the well, and you’ll get that unless you plead otherwise.
6)...The bartender flirts with you. Their job is to provide you with alcohol and be paid for it. They don’t care if you like them or not.
7)...The bartender asks you “What’s the matter?” Dive bars aren’t places to be noticed. They’re for blending into a crowd and being alone.
8)...There’s a different crowd every weekend. Dive bars rely on regulars who visit as part of their daily routine. (Exception to the previous rule: if you’re a regular, the ‘tender will notice when you’re feeling down.)
9)...The alarm on the emergency exit is functional. It likely broke the last time the place caught on fire, and the health inspector is probably a regular.
10)...Your feet don’t stick to the floor. Real dives have a carefully curated layer of muck on the ground, a totally unique fruit of years of hard partying (and its after effects).
11)...The lights are bright enough to read by. That doesn’t stop the skinny performance-artist regular from having his nose perpetually buried in a book of poems, however.
12)...The layer of dirt on the jukebox is less than a quarter-inch thick. And it’s definitely not a dive if Justin Bieber’s on the playlist.
13)...You’re asked to pay a cover charge. Cover charges are for clubs and charity events. A dive is neither, though collections may be taken up to help regulars through hard times.
14)...There’s a line to get in. If a fight starts, there might be a line to get out, but that’s it.
Photo via Flickr user weeklydig
Green Flash Brewing's flagship beer, West Coast IPA, will be brewed, bottled and kegged for the European market starting in August....read more ›
Had enough of the viral phenomenon? You're not alone...read more ›
For a price, you can get just about anything you want in Las Vegas ...read more ›
Please donate at alsa.org...read more ›
These days, you're likelier to find one of the Hella Bitter crew climbing onto a huge tank for a whiff of the contents than you are to find him bellyi...read more ›
Writers and musicians have a long, storied history with alcohol, and that intimacy with the bottle shows through in the memorable lines these artists ...read more ›
The recall covers only bottles bearing specific production codes ...read more ›
In case you missed it, here's a look at one of the most picturesque wine events in the country....read more ›
An all out depletion of inventories is unlikely, but so are chances of prices falling any time soon...read more ›
Grab 'The 12 Bottle Bar' and you've got a practical and affordable guide to bartending at home. ...read more ›
Banana? Banana who? ...read more ›
At 4.9 percent ABV, the farmhouse ale can be consumed over long drinking sessions; its finish is clean, it's light on the palate and its straw-colorat...read more ›