As you probably know by now – we love dive bars! So what exactly is a dive bar then, and why do we love them so much? Well, first of all there are the real dive bars. The ones where your dad and grandad hungout smoking, arm wrestiling and drinking. Then, there are newer ones that earn their colors by being laid back, friendly, cheap and they are in it for the long haul. But most important, dive bars are where the locals hangout.
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1. Hole in the Wall, Ketchikan, Alaska
Words and photo: Jonas Henningsson
In the slope, high above the cluster of fishing boats, is a rickety old shack that looks like it´s been pieced together from left over boards of wood. However, Hole in the Wall is the sunnies spot up there above the wharf, and we can hear the energizing chatter emerge from inside the shack even as we step of the boat. Inside is a small carpented corner bar, a worn wooden floor upon which a well-used pool table stands – and little else. The locals are at it like it´s Saturday night, and that’s what this place has been like ever since it opened, fifty years ago.
7500 S Tongass Highway, Ketchikan, Alaska
2, The Sandy Hut, Portland, Oregon
Words and photo: Jonas Larsson
The Sandy Hut screams dive bar. The outside, an oblong cinderblock and glass brick bunker is a call back to the good old days. Inside its comfortably dark and the air cool, perfect for an afternoon beer or for storing spices. A spice is exactly what this bar is, metaphorically speaking. In defiance to the newly built apartment complexex popping up all around this neighborhood, Sandy Hut adds a dimension of flavor to the area.
1430 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, Oregon
3, Julius Bar, West Village, N.Y.C.
Words: Jonas Henningsson Photo: Linda Gren
There has been a bar in the house at Waverly Place, on the corner of Amos and Factory down in the Village, ever since 1864. During the prohibition era, Julius was a speakeasy, and gathered many jazz musicians and writers, counting Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote among its regulars. Starting in the 50s, gay people began to flock to Julius Bar, and the pub won its place in history in 1966, when activists organized a ‘sip in’ in the Village to protest the NYS Liquor Authority’s rules prohibiting bars and restaurants from serving homosexuals. The owner of Julius at the time objected, despite the bar’s history of serving open homosexuals, but after the media frenzy that followed, Julius made history, and the event ushered in a whole new bar culture in America.
159 West 10th Street at Waverly Place, West Village, NYC
4, The Sloop Tavern , Ballard, Seattle
WORDS AND PHOTO: JONAS LARSSON
Though you are less likely to see “OOF DA” bumper stickers, The Sloop is still the home for fishermen after a day on the Puget Sound. The Sloop is one of the few true dive bars in the rapidly gentrifying and modernizing Ballard neighbourhood of Seattle. This traditionally Scandinavian neighbourhood has seen most of the old guard disappear in favour of modern cuisine or trendy shops.
The tavern was originally opened in 1952 and moved to its current location in 1977. They are best-known to Seattlites as the place of the Sloop Yacht Club (a weekly social club that meets year-round and races in the summer) as well as the “Slooper Sized” beers which deliver 34 oz of your favorite suds. It’s also one of the few places where you can play a round of pool or darts in a neighborhood where every square foot seems to be quickly turning to condos.
2830 NW Market St, Ballard, Seattle
5, The Oceanview Inn & Sports Pub, Islamorada, Florida
Words and photo: Jonas Henningsson
What should a sportsbar in the sun look like? Just like The Oceanview Inn! The owner Gary Dunn is always here and he can tell the occasional anecdote about his time as defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. Join the regulars at the long bardesk and order what they drink.Do not miss the backyard, where Danny ended up in big fight in the tv-series Bloodline (yes, the scene was shot here). And continue down to the water, its very pretty. And if you don´t want to leave, book a room and stay the night.
84500 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, Florida
6, The Bubbly Mermaid, Anchorage, Alaska
Words and photo: April Frame
The Bubbly Mermaid’s business is driven entirely by word of mouth, they don’t have a web site, they don’t spend money on advertising. They don’t even have a phone landline. Perhaps that’s part of why the locals love it so much, it’s their little secret. The oysters are good. Really good. Six different vendors are used to make sure the product is always fresh. They are delicious, especially paired with one of Apollos (the owner) recommended glasses of bubbly.
417 D St , Anchorage, Alaska
7, Frolic Room, Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, California
Words: Martin Brusewitz Photo: Emil Wesolowski
In many ways, the Frolic Room bar in Los Angeles is the opposite of the city where it’s located. While LA is huge, sprawling, and soaked in California light, the bar is small, cramped, and dark. The Frolic Room remains unchanged through the decades, while LA vibrates with change and youthfulness. There’s no room for the old in a city that manufactures dreams and is always looking ahead. Apart from the Frolic Room, that is. Over the decades, the Frolic Room has been visited by many of LA’s legendary citizens. Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland were regulars. The dive was one of the drunkard and writer Charles Bukowski’s favorite bars. This was also the last place Elizabeth Short, better known as The Black Dahlia, was seen alive before she was murdered in 1947. The bar is rich in history, and countless souls have stepped into the haze in this little cavern on Hollywood Boulevard. Perhaps it’s precisely because it is so different from the city outside that this bar has been so loved over the decades?
6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, California
The Frolic Room – Hollywood, CA
8, The Dutch Tavern, New London, Connecticut
Words and photo: Mattias Lundblad
“Be nice or leave” is the motto of The Dutch Tavern in New London, Connecticut. The Oak was the name until prohibition came into effect in 1920 and the bar was used for storage for a tire company. After prohibition ended in 1933, it was re-opened and named after the owner Mauritz “Dutch” Nauta. Peter Detmold and Martha Conn took over in 1998, as the fourth owners since 1933. Brian Gore, musician and poet when not behind the bar, finds and plays older and unusual country, blues and soul. He and his wife Rory Lee are used to moving a lot. He is from Texas, she from South Korea. But for now, they will stay in New London, and The Dutch is a strong reason. A former bartender rents them their apartment, and having family far away is easier with a place where you can always talk to someone.
“We have never stayed this long in a town. Sometimes we consider moving outside the town, but then it feels like it’s too far to The Dutch,” says Rory Lee.
23 Green St, New London, Connecticut
9, Do or Dive, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NYC
Words and photo: Emil Wesolowski
Do or Dive is located in an old Bedstuy space right off of Bedford ave. One that was previously populated by Justin Warners wonderfully strange Michelin awarded eatery Do or Dine. Instead of rebranding the exterior, the new owners chose to keep the old signs, and corruptly spray painted a “v” over the “n” in dine, spelling Do or Dive. On the inside, the theme stays true to the outside and the walls are loaded with decadent and ironic decorations and memorabilia.
Drop in at around 3 pm on any weekday for a calm and intimate atmosphere and strike a conversation with the friendly bartenders – or dive in at 9 on a Friday night for a loud, crowded and overall punkier vibe.
There’s a chance you might have to deal with an occasional roach in the restroom sink. But the Narragansett is $4 and their boozy frozen coffee is truly to die for.
1108 Bedford Ave,Brooklyn, NY
10, Billy Goats Tavern, Chicago, Illinois
Words by Jonas Henningsson. Photo: Jonas Larsson
The legendary masonry Chicago Tribune is above Billys, which boasts incredible sixties décor. They offer a good breakfast (you’ll be full for a hundred) if you live downtown. Located a bit sheltered under the Mag Mile at the Chicago Tribune, but we love the urban toxic feeling the city gives here, half-dark under the roads. This is how a dive bar should look like.
430 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois