And then there is the beloved dive bar.
Everyone has a favorite dive bar; a place that is dumpy enough to call home but safe enough not to get murdered in. Yet all dive bars are not created equal. There are certain and specific elements that need to be combined to make the perfect dive bar. (And just to be clear, we’re talking about a dive bar here, not a “dive bar.” A “dive bar” is a high-end bar made up to look like a dive bar but is actually really clean and nice looking, is a proponent of the craft beer movement, has trained mixologists and serves fourteen dollar cocktails. A real dive bar has none of that – and doesn’t even know what the term “mixologist” means.)
Below is the definitive list of what makes a dive bar so…uh…divey. If your favorite joint has less than half, find a new place. If it has more than half, move in. If it has all, tell no one about it as the place will be overrun with hipsters in six months.
* At least one grizzled, old man passed out at the end of the bar with a shot of Malort still in front of him.
* A jukebox with only The Doors, Styx, Merle Haggard, the Beatles’ psychedelic years and, for some unknown reason, Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” on it.
* Instead of fixing a leak in the roof someone just duct taped a sponge to the ceiling.
* A pool table with two pool cues (one of them broken) and a rip in the green felt that if you hit at a certain angle will make you scratch every time.
* On the wall is an autographed headshot of SNL’s Rob Schneider from when the bar had seen better days.
* One bathroom that you pray to God you will not have to use.
* No TV because TV implies entertainment and being entertained implies hope.
* A couple at a table arguing…then making out…then arguing…then making out…then arguing….
* The beer on tap is Old Milwaukee, the beer in cans is Schlitz and if you are lucky enough and they serve beer in bottled form, odds are it is Miller High Life.
* The owner of the bar is also the bartender (as well as the bouncer) and will cash your paycheck for you if, “you’re not a jag about it.”
* Half of the tables in the place have folded napkins under one leg to keep the them balanced.
* Most nights the place is eerily quiet because people came here to drink – not converse.
* All the bourbon bottles on the shelf are half empty but the lone vodka bottle is completely full.
* Mismatched stools, preferably stolen from other bars.
* You cannot order food there but every night at 11:45 a guy comes in with a cooler filled with tamales.
* A tattered poster of the 1986 Super Bowl Champs the Chicago Bears hangs on the back wall.
* The place has been grandfathered in to allow for smoking indoors. Either that or no one else there gives a crap.
* The bar closes at 4am but opens again at 6am.