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What Makes a Dive Bar a Dive Bar? 14 Clues to Look For

What Makes a Dive Bar a Dive Bar? 14 Clues to Look For

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In a nutshell, a dive bar is 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 décor, 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 a.m. 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.

— Tim Gonzalez, The Drink Nation

More From the Drink Nation:

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Three New Ways to Rye, With Wigle, George Dickel and Organic Nation


It’s hard to beat a dive bar. The no frills, down and dirty love of the drink draws us in. If we didn’t have day jobs and families you could probably find us on a pilgrimage to experience fabulous, seedy and unique joints across the country. After all, there are just some occasions when only a dive bar will scratch your itch.

In honor of the dive bar, and in lieu of the pilgrimage, we have found the perfect outlet for dive bar lovers. We bring you the Dive Bar Shirt Club. You know how we feel about “monthly” clubs, and this one is up there with our favorites. A subscription makes the perfect gift for the dive bar lover in your life or the person who has everything (because we bet they don’t have this).

The Rail Pub T-shirt from Savannah, GA

Here’s how it works. When you join, every month you will receive a T-shirt from an unusual, off-the-beaten-path dive bar. They only have one shirt per month and at month’s end the shirt is retired forever. So it’s basically a collector’s item. You can get a monthly subscription ($22 a month + free shipping), or you can pay in 3, 6, 9 or 12 month membership plans – perfect for gifting. As with any good subscription, you can cancel at any time.

High Life Lounge Dive Bar Shirt

Post card included makes you feel like you’ve been there

How fun would it be to be part of the team that scouts the bars and the shirts? Dream job. That got us thinking, what is it that makes dive bars so great? So we bring you our top 5 list.

Top 5 Things We Love About Dive Bars

  1. The jukebox – dive bars have the best music, period.
  2. Pickled anything behind the bar. Usually scary as hell, but tempting at the same time.
  3. The guarantee that your drink will be strong. And the great ones are served in a pint glass.
  4. Unlimited peanuts or popcorn. Need we say more?
  5. The regular at the end of the bar with an awesome story.

What would you add to this list? Do you have a favorite dive bar? Okay, right, do you have a list of favorite dive bars? We would love to hear about your favorites so comment below or tag us in your pictures on instagram with #boozeon or #boozyadventrue. We will keep a running list for our potential dive bar pilgrimage yet to be planned. In the meantime, we will live vicariously through our monthly shipments.

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What’s the Origin of the Phrase “Dive Bar”?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the colloquial use of the word dive to describe a “drinking den” or “other disreputable place of resort” comes from the fact that these types of establishments were originally housed in cellars or basements, into which “frequenters may ‘dive’ without observation.”

The OED says the first documented use of the phrase appeared in the New York Herald in July 1871: “One of the gayly decorated dives where young ladies … dispense refreshments to thirsty souls.” It appears again in 1882, then in an 1883 edition of Harper’s Magazine (“opium-smoking dives”). It is directly used in reference to a tavern in 1886: “A grand entrance takes the place of the tavern, which is relegated to down below, and is called a ‘dive.’”

Farallon 2600 Walkaround

Farallon doesn’t get a lot of ink in the recreational boating press, but that doesn’t mean its boats aren’t worth a look. They are, and they are especially suitable for use as a privately owned dive boat.

The 2600 Walkaround, for example, is a great example. Available with diesel stern drive or outboard power, the 2600 carries 150 gallons of fuel and comes fitted with dual batteries and a fully sealed cabin. The nonskid self-bailing deck is ideal for use as a dive boat, even for night dives thanks to its LED aft deck work light.

With outboard power, which is really the way to go for outfitting this boat for diving, the 2600 Walkaround is fitted with an Armstrong platform that will accommodate single or twin outboards. The 2600 comes with 20 degrees of constant deadrise, so it slices through chop without bouncing your dive gear around. For overnight trips, it comes with a large berth with lighting and stowage. A side-access door also is available, which makes water access that much easier.

World Cat 230CC Center Console

Death at The Dive Bar - Questions and a request for recommendations

We played this (Me, my wife, our daughter and her husband) yesterday and generally had a blast. We successfully unlocked the drop bag and got the 3 clues in there. At that point, after having gone over the non-bag evidence, we were pretty convinced it was either the deputy or the wife.

Because of time constraints, we were unsure of when we could all physically get together again, so after about 90 minutes, when we were still discussing the evidence and what it may or may not implicate, we decided to check the solution.

We were glad that weɽ correctly narrowed it down to the two suspects I have in the spoiler tag above. (Side note: My wife and I play AmongUs with our granddaughters, and the eldest at 11 sat in the game and was going over the suspect profiles and mentioned that Cheri was "Sus.")

Again, because of time, we didn't figure out the first cipher, but we did for the one in the locked bag.

My question is: Is there a definitive piece of evidence that puts the killer at the scene of the crime? To me, it all seemed circumstantial. The point of the game is means, method & opportunity. We got means and method, but we didn't seem to definitively find a clue that put Cheri at the scene of the crime. The will and the email exchange are super clues to motive, but legally, they're circumstantial.

My wife and I feel like we're missing something. This was the first HaK game we've played, and we're teetering on getting a subscription because we want a more definitive ending. My daughter ended up cracking the second cipher, and cracking the bag's combination and so she was SUPER stoked.

Is there a piece of evidence we missed that firmly establishes the killer at the crime scene?

Are other HaK editions more definitive in this regard?

Weɽ like a suggestion for one more single-box mystery, specifically one with the least amount of ciphers. We took up a lot of time decoding the ciphers, or attempting to, and much prefer examining the physical evidence and discussing and trying to draw conclusions from that.

Gritty, crusty and oh-so-cheap: The 18 best dive bars in Brooklyn

Dive bars of Brooklyn, we drink to you. Lone Wolf photo by Emily Paup.

A sports bar conjures up images of chads chowing down wings and sexually harassing waitresses who laugh it off for a decent tip. Beer bars have all the brews in our solar system, and bartenders who can write you a dissertation on each one. Gay bars have jukeboxes containing only Robyn. What is a dive bar though?

It definitely shouldn’t be defined by the terrible old cliche of “a place where hipsters rub elbows with [INSERT BLUE COLLAR TROPE]” because that veers dangerously close to giving a cop or a sanitation guy mystical features. It shouldn’t be a place that is cheap above all else, because a hellhole with cheap beer is still a hellhole.

A dive bar is a place that should have cheap beer, yes, but also decent service and some sense of being permanently etched into the landscape. If it’s baffling or intimidating to newcomers, all the better. If you walk into a bar, sit down with your beer and are suddenly being lectured on the terrible decision the Rangers made to trade for goddamn Phil Esposito 40 years ago, you know you’re in the right place. Or at least I know I am. A dive bar, more than any other kind of bar, is a place that acts as a bulwark against a world that is more often completely shitty than anything else.

Some of the bars on this list have existed as bars since seemingly the beginning of time, others are new but well on their way to permanence. Several reject the slummy dive bar aesthetic for something a little snazzier. Due to the sometimes anonymous nature of the dive, this list is far from all encompassing. Still, all these spots share an edge and patrons who don’t give a fuck what you think when you walk in the door. And Brooklyn is all the better for them. — Dave Colon

Soda photo by Marti Zabell.

18) Soda Bar 629 Vanderbilt Ave. (near St. Mark’s), Prospect Heights
Sunday – Wednesday: noon – 2 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday: noon to 4 a.m.
Happy Hour: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. $3 drafts, $5 well drinks
Credit cards: Yes
Soda gives you options. It’s a good day-drinking spot where you can forget that it’s actually light outside. Or, you can party it up, taking advantage of all that space. On Fridays and Saturdays the back room turns into dance party with a DJ. Soda is also a popular hang after a free First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum, and a great place to meet some locals. Feel free to show up with a crowd: Soda is accommodating to large groups with its cushy vintage velvet couches and seats in the back room. In the front room there are smaller candle-lit tables across from the bar perfect for a very inexpensive date. There is also a backdoor patio in case you need to cool off from dancing, and tables for drinking al fresco. A small bar menu offers snacks such as fries, burgers and pierogies. — Marti Zabell

Commonwealth, photo by Deena Atkinson.

17) Commonwealth 497 5th Ave. (at 12th Street) Park Slope
Monday – Friday: 3 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 2.p.m to 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: All day $4 Yuengling
Happy Hour: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Credit cards: Yes
Somewhere between an upscale bar and dive lies Commonwealth. The dark and secluded bar has a patio for smokers, a decent jukebox and no stabby locals or crack whores in sight. The multitude of beers on draft — 12 on tap at $6 or under — alone makes us fans. Expect to see Hendricks not Beefeater on the shelf next to its great bourbon selection. Probably the greatest determining factor in divey-ness is the recent addition of locally made hand pies to its snack menu. Also equipped with chalkboard bathrooms, the true flavor of this stale bar lies in the old-school bulletin board in the back. — Vanessa Londono

Boat photo by Rachel DeLetto.

16) Boat
175 Smith St. (b/t Warren & Wyckoff), Cobble Hill
5 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Happy Hour daily 5-8: $3 All drafts, bottles, well liquor
Cheapest option: All day $3 High Life or Genesee Cream Ales.
Credit cards: Yes
A cheap, casual, everyday bar along a row increasingly populated by Michelin star chasers and bespoke cocktails, Boat is divey without being dirty. In other words, the toilets work and there is usually TP and soap in the graffiti’d unisex bathrooms (don’t get any ideas stick figure illustrations on the doors warn against group activities. You’re welcome for the tip, filthy bar fornicators). Boat attracts a laid back thirty-something crowd with plentiful seating and a generous daily happy hour. No fancy cocktails, food, TVs or attitude. Just cheap booze and friendly conversation with the bartenders and random neighborhood strangers. Throw a couple bucks into the jukebox stocked with aging-but-still-excellent indie mixes donated by staff and patrons, with titles like “Why Satan Matters” and “The 40 Year Old Hipster.” Go with a date and challenge them to a nostalgic game of Connect 4 (or one of the other vintage board games stocked behind the bar) while cozied up on one of the romantical pleather banquettes in the back by the fireplace. Saturday nights get crowded and rowdy. But you might also run into Edith Zimmerman. — Rachel DeLetto

Buttermilk photo by Deena Atkinson.

15) Buttermilk Bar
577 Fifth Ave. (between 15th and 16th) Park Slope
6 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Happy Hour: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
$3 beers
Cheapest option: All day $3 High Life
Credit cards: Yes
Don’t let the name deceive you — Buttermilk Bar in Park Slope has very little in common with the Jay-Z-and-Beyoncé-frequented Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens. Its black, nondescript exterior makes it easy to miss, but this neighborhood bar isn’t one to pass up. For every Sloper griping about early closing hours and $1-off happy hours, Buttermilk Bar offers a 6 – 9pm antidote with $3 well drinks, shots and beers (all beers. You heard me). The ambiance is pretty much nonexistent, but the happy hour continues to be $3 everything until 9. — Kelly Murphy

Lone Wolf photo by Emily Paup.

14) Lone Wolf
1089 Broadway (off Dodworth) Bushwick
7 p.m. – 4.a.m.
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday, $3 well drinks, $2 PBR
Cheapest option: All day $3 PBR or Gennessee
Credit cards: Yes.
It’s nice to walk into a dark bar and be greeted by a bartender who calls you “Hon.” It’s very homey. The youngest entrant in our guide, the former quasi-legal venue Bodega, has been around for more than a year. It doesn’t use its newness as a cudgel for expensive drinking, offering up a $5 PBR and well shot deal every day. The lack of tap beers is more than made up for by an impressive collection of bottles and cans, including options from local favorites Sixpoint and Blue Point. The stage in the back isn’t just for show, playing host to bands booked by the bartenders, who are ludicrously friendly judging by the one I talked to. The best part of the entire experience though is definitely “The Champion’s Pub,” a barfight-themed pinball game that must be played to be believed. — Dave Colon

South photo by Deena Atkinson.

13) South
629 Fifth Ave. (between 17th and 18th) Park Slope
Monday – Friday: 2 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 12 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: All day $3 PBR
Credit cards: Yes
It’s 3am — time to spill your guts to that cute girl you just met and also quell your growling stomach. Head to South and treat her to a grilled cheese and jelly sandwich, which might sound gross but tastes like exactly what you want post-midnight. The bartenders are shaggy-haired (all of them), super-friendly, and diligent with free popcorn refills. Both the backyard and the booths are simple and spacious. Toss in a $3 shot for good measure, and it’ll be obvious you know the way to a lady’s heart. If she’s still unimpressed, try a board game or a round of Buck Hunter to seal the deal. Kelly Murphy

The Wreck Room photo by Emily Paup.

12) Wreck Room
940 Flushing Ave (at Central) Bushwick
Happy Hour: 2 p.m. –-6 p.m. every day: $1 off everything
Cheapest option: $3 Coors
Credit cards: Yes
Happy hour at Wreck Room means $4 wells and $2 Coors on draught. To me, this place feels like happy hour all the time, when a shot and beer is $5 forever and always. Have a Tecate and tequila or High Life tallboy and whiskey the staff is happy to accommodate your mixing and matching needs. Embodying “Bushwick shithole” (especially for Morgantown, a burgeoning fancypants area) yet having superfriendly service, the place has such major staying power it’s physically impossible to have just one beer. Or beer and shot. With graffiti-speckled car hoods arranged around the mysterious sleaze-drenched exposed brick, the place feels aptly named, especially considering the bathrooms, which are a thing of nightmares. Wreck Room’s saving grace, prices aside, are the chintzy chandeliers that dangle amongst the wreckage: a nod to the former party rental space it once was, before becoming a bar in 2005. — Caroline Shadood

Brooklyn Ice House photo by Dave Colon.

11) Brooklyn Ice House, 318 Van Brunt Street (off Pioneer) Red Hook
Noon to 4 a.m.
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday, noon – 8 p.m., $1 off all beer and cocktails
Weekend Happy Hour: noon – 4 p.m.: $2 PBR and High Life
Cheapest option: All day $3 PBR and High Life
Credit cards: No
As good a reason as any to travel to the end of the earth, this 3 1/2-year-old Red Hook joint was previously known as the Pioneer Bar, “a place you wouldn’t go into” as the bartender told me. “What’s that mean?” I asked. “It was a crackhead bar,” she said. “With a food smoker that turned out food of questionable quality,” offered a fellow drinker. Now it’s a spot as comfortable as your living room, but so much more fun. Sit at the bar and chat with the bartender and neighborhood folks passing through or get some work done sitting at one of the tables adjacent to a couch running the length of the back wall. Either way, the massive beer list and great beer-and-shot specials such as the $4 Stevedore (PBR and Evan Williams) will keep you longer than you intended, especially if you decide to soak up some of the booze with something off the menu, like a burger or wings or two pulled pork sliders. Stay long enough and talk to the right people and you may get offered a job selling life insurance door-to-door. —Dave Colon

Lucky 13 photo by Deena Atkinson.

10) Lucky 13 Saloon, 273 13th Street (at 5th Ave.) Park Slope
3 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Credit Cards: No
If you’ve ever been to Austin, your ears have probably been witness to the grindcore blaring out the windows of Death Metal Pizza. Lucky 13 Saloon in Park Slope is all that the without the gimmick. It’s tough to say whether the types of absinthe outnumber the shrunken heads, and for metalheads on a budget, the White Trash Special gets you a PBR and a whiskey shot for $6. Why listen to Slayer alone in your room when you can do it to the backdrop of horror movies, happy hour until 9, and —if you time it right — pole dancers? — Kelly Murphy

Shenanigans photo by Bryan Winter.

9) Shenanigans Pub 802 Caton Ave. (E 8th St.) Kensington
5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Happy Hour: 5 – 7, buy one get one free
Credit Cards: No
In the hour or so that I spent on a quiet Sunday night at this neighborhood Irish dive, I not only cheered on two giant walruses wrestling each other on the Discovery Channel with a pack of drunk construction workers but also participated in an impromptu, bar-wide Pat Benatar sing-a-long. Granted there were only seven or so people in the entire place, but if that’s not reason enough to stop by I don’t know what is. Inside, Shenanigans doesn’t look like much. Paper shamrocks are haphazardly taped onto the mirror that runs the length of the bar, and a neon Budweiser sign in the front window casts a bit of a glow across the bar’s otherwise dimly lit main space. But $2 drinks during happy hour in addition to a nice backyard area (complete with grill) set this dive apart from the rest. Sure, the well liquor could probably be used to strip paint, but for the price you have no right to complain. Be sure to stop by on Saturdays at 10:30pm for its infamous karaoke night, which always runs well into the early morning. — Tom Sullivan

Freddy’s Bar photo by Deena Atkinson.

8) Freddy’s Bar 627 Fifth Ave. (between 17th and 18th) Park Slope
noon – 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: All day $3 PBR or High Life
Credit cards: No
When you cross over the Prospect Expressway going south on Fifth Avenue you come to two bars. Both are dive bars with cheap drinks, multicolored Christmas lights and jukeboxes. One offers a backyard and grilled PB&J, and the other is Freddy’s. From the fish tank to the painted gold ceiling to the mismatched lamps, the entire experience upon entering the bar feels hallucinogen-induced. Forced to move to make room for Bruce Ratner’s Monument To Avarice & Greed, Freddy’s hasn’t missed a beat. If you’re seizure-prone, step into the bare bones back room for nearly nightly and often free late-night live music and comedy (like Dive Comedy every other Monday hosted by the highly crushable Giulia Rozzi). If you’re hungry, Freddy’s has a menu full of bar staples like burgers, pulled pork sliders and crab rangoon. Top off the spectacle with a $3 beer or go crazy with a $5 cocktail. — Kelly Murphy

Tip Top Bar photo by Meghan Doherty.

7) Tip Top Bar & Grill 432 Franklin Avenue (at Madison) Bed-Stuy
Monday – Wednesday: 4 p.m. – midnight, Thursday – Saturday: 4 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Credit cards: No
This neighborhood favorite has a varied history — you’ll hear something different depending on who you ask — but everyone seems to agree on the no-fuss, simple-times drinking atmosphere and huge and funky backyard this bar provides to residents of Bed-Stuy and nearby Clinton Hill. What we have gathered from multiple Tip Top trips over the years is that it’s co-owned by a husband and wife team who man the front door and back kitchen nearly every night. No food menu means the options are always changing, but items are mostly of the alcohol-absorbent and meaty variety. The bartenders also keep a concerned eye out for all patrons, constantly re-filling bowls from a seemingly endless supply of behind-the-bar snacks. No draft beers. Bottles cost $4, and a well drink, $5. Happy Hour specials also vary by week, and daily entertainments include an unrivaled jukebox selection (and dancing on Friday nights) and a TV always turned to the juicy visuals of nighttime network programming. I’m hesitant to give too much away, but I will say that this bar may have offered a free plate of crispy fried fish to a certain Brokelyn writer the very first time she set foot inside. — Karina Briski

Alibi photo by Bryan Winter.

6) Alibi 242 Dekalb Ave., (off Vanderbilt) Fort Greene
Happy Hour: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. $3 beers and liquor
Cheapest option: All day $4 Bud and Bud Light
Credit cards: No
Alibi is a blink-and-you-miss-it, no-frills bar where you can sling back pitchers with a harmoniously diverse crowd of old-timers, posh Fort Greeners and beanie-topped art students. Bartenders say Alibi has been here since the Depression, and by several accounts has looked and felt about the same (with possibly the same clientele). On the walls are a shark’s jaw, a trophy case, an old fireplace, a lone woman’s shoe and an ancient pig’s mask. “This place didn’t capture that vibe,” one regular told us. “It maintained it.” Regulars start pouring in around 5pm to play pool or cheer along to Jeopardy on the one TV, and the night crowds fill up the graffiti-covered back room that also holds a Big Buck Hunter and video bowling. The big bench tables in the dim and latticed back yard fills up with smokers. There’s a digital jukebox too, if you really need to hear Rush’s 2112. Tim Donnelly

Montero’s photo by Catherine Wolinski.

5) Montero’s 73 Atlantic Avenue (at Hicks St.) Brooklyn Heights
Monday-Sunday: 3pm-4am
Cheapest Option: All day $3 PBR bottle
Credit cards: No
Montero’s is a merchant marine bar open since 1947, with authentic lifesavers and old photographs hanging from the ceiling and walls. No happy hour here, but full-time bartender Allan is both drink-slinger and historian who serves up stories with the modestly priced drinks –$3 PBR bottles (a rare sighting), $4 domestics, $5 imperials $5 well drinks, $7 mid-shelf and $8-10 top shelf. Pull up a stool to hear about OG supermodel Twiggie shooting a film in the 󈨀s, writer Frank McCourt living above the bar in the 󈨊s, or take it back to the mid-󈧬s when the bar had to cross Atlantic Avenue because the BQE was constructed. There’s live music on Mondays (“contemporary stuff, like the Beatles and Rolling Stones”) blues/folk/country western on Wednesdays karaoke nights on Friday and Saturday. No matter what youth-driven exploits this bar takes on, the decor will never stray too far from its maritime roots. “There’s no IKEA in here,” Allan says. Catherine Wolinski

Gotham City Lounge photo by Emily Paup.

4) Gotham City Lounge 1293 Myrtle Ave. (between Cedar Street and Hart Street) Bushwick
Tuesday – Saturday: 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: $3 PBR/whisky shot
Credit cards: Yes
Ah, life’s great mysteries: like why does a bar that has no happy hour have a “Best Happy Hour” plaque from Time Out New York? Googling “Brooklyn geek bar” brings up a bunch of excited blog posts about the Way Station and its TARDIS. Steampunk and Victorian fetishism are fine for pansies it just means that I have more room to myself in Brooklyn’s actual nerd headquarters, a place that greets you with a life-size Skeletor behind the bar, Marvel vs. Capcom in the corner and strange cartoons projected on a screen. And you will end up playing Marvel vs. Capcom, fueled by $2 PBRs and $3 for the same with a shot of whisky. Nestled right under the Central stop on the M, this former Pentecostal church and skeevy biker hangout has been slinging cheap drinks since 2006, interrupted only by a fire in 2009. Ray, the owner, says the building has been in the family for a number of years, which is what allows him to price the drinks so low it’s practically a public service. Most of the sci-fi and comic memorabilia hung up around the bar is from his personal collection. The clientele skews younger, but while we were there, a couple older regulars were giving a friend advice on raising a daughter. — Dave Colon

Rosemary’s Bar photo by Bryan Winter.

3) Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern 188 Bedford Ave. (between N. 6th and N. 7th) Williamsburg
11 a.m. – 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: All day $4 32 oz. Bud/Bud Light
Happy Hour: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.: $4 margaritas, $3 Gordon’s Gin, Bacardi or Smirnoff mixed drink.
Credit cards: No
Rosemary’s has been around for 58 years. A plumber and a cobbler kept shop in the space before Rosemary’s parents bought it when she was 23 and pregnant. She keeps it open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., and the drink prices make you feel like you died and woke up in New Orleans. “I want to make sure after a couple drinks you kids can still afford to have a bologna sandwich when you get home,” says Rosemary, who lives upstairs and visits daily. White Christmas lights droop all year round, and no holiday is ever denied a proper outfitting. Settle into a comfy red vinyl booth with a good friend and a Styrofoam 32 oz., and you’ll forget the mob of cool just outside the door. — Kate Mooney

773 Lounge photo via Flickr’s Mike Sheehan.

2) 773 Lounge 773 Coney Island Ave. (off Cortelyou) Flatbush
Happy Hour: 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. $1 off all drinks
Cheapest option: All day $3 Miller Lite bottles
Credit cards: Yes
It’s always nice to walk into a bar that shows sports on TV but isn’t a sports bar. In the case of 773, it’s a roomy neighborhood spot with a kindly bartender that will jawjack with the regulars and talk about the old days of the Mafia-sponsored bartenders union (“When I had my first kid, they gave me $150.”) This through-and-through Irish spot has been quenching thirst since New York’s magical year of 1969 and, aside from the flatscreen TVs and credit card machine, it could fool you into thinking you’ve woken up in the 20th century. The week is filled with things like a dart league, live music on weekends and a Thursday night open mic hosting local musicians and comedians. — Dave Colon

Jackie’s Fifth Amendment photo by David Colon.

1) Jackie’s Fifth Amendment 404 5th Ave. (at 7th Street) Park Slope
8 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Cheapest option: $4 Budweiser bottle
Credit cards: No
“How old is this bar?” I ask. “Oh it’s been around longer than me,” says the bartender, who had just told a story about getting hit by an ambulance 45 years ago. It’s entirely believable that this place has been a bar since the beginning of recorded time. A guy on a nearby stool told us it was a saloon, and then a speakeasy. The bartender made dirty jokes about the guy from the Health Department who came to shine a flashlight in the bottles of liquor and took her sweater off in an attempt to sway him. No taps, no happy hour and the Coke from the rum and Cokes comes from a bottle. This is that place to get a few $10 buckets of 7 oz. nips, take a seat by the window and watch the day go by. Jackie’s is the platonic ideal of a dive bar, stubbornly resistant to the world around it, best represented by its use of a rotary phone as the bar phone. — Dave Colon

Honorable mentions to Rope, which closed as we were preparing this guide, and The Subway Bar, which assured us several times it was closing but is still open at the moment.

Edited by Brokelyn culture editor and bar guru Dave Colon. Follow Dave at @herbertharper.

Guide part 10

Before Krew can blow Jak and Daxter up with his bomb, Ashelin will help them escape. Dropping the heroes off at the port, she tells them to find her father while she delivers the Heart of Mar to Keira. When Jak and Daxter return to the Hip Hog Saloon to look for more clues, they meet Tess, who tells them that something is hidden inside the whack-a-metal game machine. Daxter will now have to impress Tess with his amazing gaming skills.

There are two sets of four holes. Press Up, Down, Left, and Right on the D-Pad to aim at the corresponding holes in the left set, and press the symbol buttons (Cross/X, Square, Circle, Triangle) to aim at the corresponding holes in the right set. Daxter gains points by whacking the gray heads that pop up. The gold ones are worth more points, but do not hit the red ones. Daxter needs to score 1500 or so points without hitting too many red heads to win the prize - the Time Map.

Objective: Find Sig in Under Port

Jak, Daxter, and Tess notice that Metal Heads have entered Haven City. Tess will bring the Time Map to Keira, and the heroes will go look for Sig at the under port. As they step out, they'll receive a radio transmission from Vin, screaming something about the shield wall being sabotaged, allowing Metal Heads to pour into the city. From this point on, all the Krimzon Guards in the city are preoccupied with the Metal Heads and will ignore Jak and Daxter. The heroes can even help them kill some of the Metal Heads. If they steal vehicles from the guards, they won't get into trouble either.

When the heroes are ready, they should go to where the green marker is on the map, at the west tower of the port, to find a gate. After taking the elevator down into the airlock, they should climb into the Titan Suit and prepare for some underwater action. To refill their oxygen, they should step onto the bright blue oxygen points. They begin at the north part of the under port area, and they have to work their way around to the west. The mines they face can float towards them, and the Metal Head jellyfish can electrocute their mech. To kill the Metal Head jellyfish, step underneath them and punch. (The mech should automatically reach up and hit them.)

Punch through the metal gate to proceed. Go past the mines and up the slope to find an oxygen point. Drop into the hole. Punch through the metal gate and get to the oxygen point. Smash through another metal gate towards the southeast.

Punch the four platforms on the ground. Doing so will release them, allowing them to float up. Find an elevator platform and ride it up above the water. Jump across the now-floating platforms to reach the other side. Drop down into the hole there. At the bottom, look back to find a Precursor Orb, then find and punch through the metal gate. At the bridge, don't fall and watch out for more Metal Head jellyfish. Go across to the oxygen point. Past another oxygen point shortly ahead, there is a pillar that can rise. Ride it up and jump onto another rising pillar, and then leap across to the ledge at the other side of the chasm. Find the gate leading to an airlock, and then continue into the dry part of the ruins. Use a rolling long jump to clear the pit and find Sig.

Objective: Escort Sig in Under Port

Krew has apparently set Sig up, and now he and the heroes will have to get out of the under port alive. First, Jak and Daxter will find a locked door. To open it, they have to punch the two blocks over into the two depressions nearby. The blocks will crumble after a while, so the heroes have to move them into the depressions quickly. If they screw up, more blocks will appear and they can try again. Next, a large bug will appear. The heroes should run forwards, staying ahead of it. Follow Sig, and jump across the platforms and the laser beam in the way.

There will be a second block puzzle. To solve this one, punch the block until it is lined up with the depression, and then jump back across and shoot it over into the depression. For the third puzzle, Metal Heads will attack, but Sig will fight them off. There's no real trick here - just punch the blocks rapidly around the bumps and into the depressions in the shortest route possible.

When the large bug reappears, follow Sig again. Jump over or run underneath the laser beams, shoot the cone and use it as a platform, and climb up the ledges. Leap across the moving blocks, some more cones, and a laser. Drop into the hole Sig makes. Dive smash through another floor panel and get to the bottom.

To get out, the heroes should find the elevator. It will take them back up to the port.

Objective: Defend Stadium (Defend the Rift Rider)

Keira will contact Jak and Daxter over the radio, thanking them for obtaining the artifacts she needs to complete her machine. The heroes should go meet her now. Go to where the wrench marker is on the map, at the courtyard of the stadium sector, to find Keira.

Keira will be standing next to her finished machine, the Rift Rider. She still needs to move it to the rift gate ring, so she and her friends can jump back in time with it, but Brutter has already arranged for that. A Lurker balloon lift will be waiting at the other side of the courtyard to transport the Rift Rider.

The problem is, lots of Metal Heads are coming. The two Samoses will use their magic to lift the Rift Rider - with Keira in it - over to the balloon lift, and Jak and Daxter will have to protect them. The heroes can just stay close to the two Samoses, firing at the bad guys as they come near with the Scatter Gun or the Vulcan. Do not let either Samos die.

Objective: Check the Construction Site

Jak and Daxter's friends are safe, but before the heroes can catch up with them, they'll get a radio message telling them to go to the construction site. Go to where the green construction crane marker is on the map, at the south town district's industrial sector, to find the site. The heroes will discover who Kor really is, and they will meet both Baron Praxis and the Metal Head leader. After the Metal Head leader blows away the Baron along with his guards, he'll leave. With his dying breath, the Baron will give Jak and Daxter the Precursor Stone. Before the heroes go off to attack the Metal Head Nest, they should look for some goodies at this area. There is a Precursor Orb near the large drums of cables, and there is another Precursor Orb near a barrel by the wooden walkway the heroes have to take to leave the site.

Objective: Break Barrier at Nest
Objective: Attack the Metal Head Nest

Now that Jak and Daxter have the Precursor Stone, they can use it to power the Weapon of Mar, which can destroy the barrier at the entrance to the Metal Head nest. Take the red transport ship at the port to reach the nest area. Jak and Daxter will begin at the southeast part of the nest area. They should follow the road through the ruins and blow away any Metal Heads who show up. Find a screw switch and kick it to raise a platform. Climb up through more ruins, and then drop down at the other side to find the Weapon of Mar. It looks like a big red cannon, and it's in the middle of the map.

Hooking up the Precursor Stone to the weapon, Jak and Daxter will blow open the entrance to the nest. Now they'll have to get there. From the Weapon of Mar, continue southwest. Kill more Metal Heads. The gigantic Metal Heads lumbering around will create electrical currents around their bodies, so stay away from them to avoid getting shocked. Climb the concrete ruins at the southwest corner to find a Precursor Orb.

Follow the path ahead marked by some curved beams. To avoid the gigantic Metal Heads, hover over the dark eco pools on the jet board. Continue to the northeast and enter the cavern-like nest. Fight through the Metal Heads, and go deep into the heart of the nest to find the Hora-Quan leader. Jak and Daxter will have a little chat with Kor. The heroes may be tainted by dark eco, but that's not gonna stop them from kicking Kor's ass.

Boss: Metal Head Leader

The battle with Kor at the Metal Head nest consists of three phases. The phase is determined by the amount of life the boss has remaining, as indicated by the three bars.

Phase 1: Kor will summon several Metal Head crawlers, but these crawlers must hatch out from their eggs before they can attack the heroes. Kor can also fire a quick energy bolt. When his forehead is glowing, he's about to shoot, so prepare to dodge sideways. Using rolling long jumps can help a lot here. Whenever the heroes have a chance, they should shoot at Kor with something like the Blaster or the Peace Maker. The crates around the room hold more Blaster ammo.

Phase 2: This time, Kor will summon flying Metal Heads instead of crawlers. He'll also fire two energy bolts in rapid succession instead of one whenever he charges up. Again, dodge sideways to avoid the bolts, and shoot at Kor as much as possible. If the heroes have saved up some Vulcan ammo, they should use the Vulcan against the boss during this phase for an easier time.

Phase 3: Dropping down, Kor will now chase the heroes on the ground. If he gets up close, he will claw at them. He'll also fire three energy bolts in rapid succession instead of two whenever he charges up. The heroes must keep moving away from the boss, turning around and firing back whenever Kor isn't shooting at them. If the heroes have trouble avoiding the energy bolts, they may want to try using rolling long jumps.

If Jak and Daxter manage to kill Kor and save Haven City, congratulations on beating the game, and enjoy the ending. Will the heroes find their way back home? Will they rescue the kid? Will they discover the secret of the Precursor Stone? And will Daxter ever get some? That's for you to find out.

Is it last call for dive bars in San Francisco?

5 of 26 Brian Morgin, left, and friend Larry Kennedy, shares a laugh over coffee at Clooney's Pub early Friday morning on Sept. 5, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

7 of 26 James "Hutch" Hutchinson, right, bartender at Clooney's Pub, converses with food safety manager William Rogers, center, during their early Friday morning shift in San Francisco, Calif. Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

8 of 26 James "Hutch" Hutchinson, a bartender at Clooney's Pub, updates a San Francisco Giants calendar behind the bar counter in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

10 of 26 James "Hutch" Hutchinson, a bartender at Clooney's Pub, dries a towel during his early morning shift in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

11 of 26 James "Hutch" Hutchinson, bartender at Clooney's Pub, prepares a drink early Friday morning in San Francisco, Calif. Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

13 of 26 Brian Morgin, left, and friend Larry Kennedy, shares a laugh over coffee at Clooney's Pub early Friday morning on Sept. 5, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

14 of 26 Larry Kennedy, left, and friend Brian Morgin, shares a conversation at Clooney's Pub early Friday morning on Sept. 5, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

16 of 26 A customer, name withheld, reads a newspaper over drinks at Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

17 of 26 William Rogers, food safety manager at Clooney's Pub, walks onto Valencia Street early Friday morning Sept. 5, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

19 of 26 A receptacle for cigarettes and ashes is seen hanging outside Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

20 of 26 Signage seen at Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

22 of 26 A San Francisco Giants calendar with the team's record is seen behind the bar at Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

23 of 26 The kitchen menu pictured inside Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

25 of 26 A bicyclist with a child in tow rides past a window at Clooney's Pub in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Stephen Lam/Special to The Chronicle Show More Show Less

Are you growing weary of waiting while your bartender - sorry, mixologist - crushes a caraway seed to sprinkle over your elderberry-infused vodka topped with egg white foam? For $14?

Well, put down the craft cocktail menu and head down the street to a dive bar. They're everywhere in San Francisco. But you may want to hurry - pessimists think the dive bar is headed for last call. The culprits are saloon economics, ever-rising rents and changing demographics.

But c'mon, are they really saying there's no place for cheap drinks, neighborhood characters and unpredictable social interaction? A real dive makes its living on the basics.

"You're getting two ingredients. And one is a glass," says Michael "Spike" Krouse, who runs Madrone on Divisadero. "You're getting a lot of history, a comfortable place, but no pretense."

Krouse is part of a group that is redoing the now-closed Pop's in the Mission. He says his places have "dive bar elements," but they've been freshened up. That's the trend. Many of the old shot-and-a-beer places have been purchased and have either shut down or are being refurbished.

"I can name six or eight bars in the Richmond and Sunset that used to be dive bars," says Cyril Hackett, who runs the Kezar Pub and Mad Dog in the Fog in Upper and Lower Haight. "Now they are fancy little cocktail bars."

A partial list of dives that have either closed or been remodeled includes: the 441 Club, El Mexicano, Esta Noche, the Nite Cap, Jack's Club, the Owl Tree and the Attic, which as one commenter to a food and drink website put it: "always smells like the toilet is backed up - because it is."

All part of the charm, say dive bar aficionados.

Following the nose

Nicole DeWald, the owner and namesake of Blondie's on Valencia, says it isn't the aura that makes it, it is the aroma.

"It's got that rubber mat, alcohol and dirty rag smell," she says. "It's got a little more flavor, a little more wear on the floor, it is a little smellier, and the bar staff is a little snarkier."

Marcia Gagliardi, who founded the website Tablehopper, says it will be a sad day if the city's dives are 86'd.

"I want a place where I can be comfortable," she says. "I'm not going to get a drink with an egg white. You go to a dive bar because it is ripped vinyl seats, old linoleum, a sassy bartender, an old guy dozing in the corner and a jukebox where they yell at you if you put the wrong song on."

Admittedly, a newbie may find the vibe a little intimidating. Ashley Arabian, a former bar manager, has put together a series of clever YouTube videos called "Dirty Old Bars." She and her friends have been hitting the city classics, talking to regulars and documenting the scene. She got some great interviews after everyone warmed to her, but admits she sometimes hesitated when she stepped through the door.

"It's like an old Western," she says. "You walk in, and everybody stops and turns their head."

Arabian and her friends are so serious about their project that they filmed in Clooney's Pub on Valencia - at 6 a.m.

"That's the traditional San Francisco dive bar - open at 6 a.m.," says Ben Bleiman, who is part owner of six local bars and a founder of the Bar Owners Alliance. "It's a place for serious drinkers, who make drinking their profession."

There's certainly some of that, but Dan Lyons, who purchased Clooney's in 1995, says many of his sunrise regulars are everyday people who work in the wee hours.

"We get a lot of nurses and doctors from General Hospital," he said. "Mail sorters, cabdrivers on the shift change. Their happy hour is 6 to 9 in the morning, not 6 to 9 at night."

Clooney's isn't on the endangered list. But Lyons sees the trends. It isn't just that the cheap drinks make it hard to turn a profit. A location with an established liquor license is a tempting investment in these booming economic times. When longtime bar owners get a substantial offer from investors, it's hard to turn down.

Some of it is simple economics. Twenty years ago a liquor license ran to $25,000 a year.

The Last Resort | Port Orange, Florida

The Last Resort's claim to fame: "The home of ice cold beer and killer women." The tiny biker bar just outside Daytona Beach was reportedly the last stop serial killer Aileen Wuornos (played by Charlize Theron in the movie "Monster") drank before she was arrested . for killing people, not drinking. Oh, get this: There's a gaudy mural of Wuornos next to the car seat she used to sleep on. You know you want to see that.

Best Dive Bars and Beach Bars Recommendations

My wife and I plan to be in Clearwater Beach (first time) at the end of June. We do enjoy the evening/nightlife and just looking for recommendations for the best beach bars. We also would enjoy a good locals dive bar (if any).

24 replies to this topic

Tates, Palm Pavilion, Frenchys Rockaway are good for along the beach. Just about any bar along Mandalay thats open late, can be considered a dive bar! )

Thanks for the beach bar recommendations. Any specific local dive bar recommendations would be appreciated. :)

Check out Mahuffer's in nearby Indian Shores .

+1 Probably because it's not in CB, I forgot about Mahuffers, the ultimate dive! Use Uber or a taxi when going back to your hotel! )

Dive bar on Clearwater Beach would be the Brown Boxer South Beach. Love Mahuffers. Definitely worth a ride to go there.

The ultimate dive bar in CWB is The Shipwreck, 647 Mandalay (North end). Nowhere else comes close.

Thank you for the great suggestions

During my web searches, I also came across a place called Two Bucks Saloon on the mainland. Is that place any good? Appears they have live bands often (or at least once did).

Brown Boxer seems to have excellent reviews. Just curious why the South location is better than the location further north? Any particular reason to avoid the northern location or are they both decent?

Also, does the Shipwreck serve food? If so, do they have a full menu or just bar snacks?

Last question, are you allowed to sit at the bar in FL inside now, or just table seating? I ask because here in NJ, bar service is still not allowed due to COVID restrictions. Thanks so much.