- BUCKET LIST BARSEXCERPTS FROM THE JETSETTING DRINKER'S ALMANACCLICK THE ARROW TO READ OUR FAVORITE EXCERPTS
- Chicago, ILThe Original Mother'sFood: No
Live Music: Sometimes, typically a DJ
Hours: Sunday to Friday 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Type of Bar: Nightclub
What to Drink: Schlitz, Adios Motherfucker (AMF)
Located in Chicago's popular nightlife district of Rush and Division, Mother's was founded in 1968 and is an institute in the city's legendary bar scene. Epic bands like the Mekons, Eric Clampton and Cream, Velvet Underground and Chicago cut their teeth performing in the bar, and it is widely believed by many as the birthplace of "house music". Today it is known for themed parties and outstanding drink specials and is a not-to-be-missed spot perfect for a Chicago bar crawl or a night out on the town.
- New York, NYOld Town BarFood: Yes
Live Music: No
Hours: M-F: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sat: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sun: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Type of Bar: Pub
What to Drink: The classics
Old Town Bar began its life as popular German establishment called Viemeister in 1892. Plowing its way through prohibition (the booths today still have their false bottoms and storage used to hide booze), the bar survived mostly unscathed likely due to members of nearby Tammany Hall providing support and patronage. The bar and its owners proudly boast the celebration of writers -- Frank McCourt was a regular -- and a loosely enforced no cell phone policy makes this a place to go and enjoy the company of friends, co-workers and strangers. The icing on the cake just might be the 100 year old urinals (think Lazy Boy size and comfort) in the men's bathroom, which are so ingrained in the bar and its history they were thrown a 100 year birthday party complete with a congratulatory letter from Mayor Bloomberg.
- Los Angeles, CAThe Frolic RoomFood: No
Live Music: No
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Type of Bar: Dive
What to Drink: A martini or a PBR
The Frolic Room is alleged to have started as a speakeasy run by a man named Freddy Frolic for actors and special guests of the attached Pantages Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. That was in 1930. The place went legit immediately after prohibition and is now the last real bar -- dive, even -- in the area (the rest were knocked down in favor of night clubs and lounges). It's said to be the last place the Black Dahlia was seen alive, and now it plays hosts to a cross-section of Hollywood locals and regulars (as the bartender tells us, "from bums to Kiefer...").
- Denver, COMy Brother's BarFood: Yes
Live Music: No
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Type of Bar: Pub
What to Order: A craft beer or classic cocktail
The oldest drinking establishment in Denver (there's been a bar here since the 1870s). This place is a beloved watering hole to just about everybody in the area: business people, politicians, sports celebrities, college students and the working class. What brings them all together is yards of polished mahogany and a dedication to the classic bar. They serve craft beer and small brands (no Coors here) and make perhaps the best burgers in town. They also don't have a sign outside, so keep an eye out for the address.
- Austin, TXThe TavernFood: Yes
Live Music: Yes
Hours: Monday to Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Wednesday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Type of Bar: Sports Bar
What to Drink: A Fireman’s 4 Blonde (local beer)
The Tavern is the product of bad timing. It was built to be a bar, but then prohibition passed before it could open. That didn't seem to affect it though. Designed by a German immigrant to resemble the drinking houses of Bavaria, this popular sports bar started life as a speakeasy and brothel. In fact it's said to be haunted by the ghosts of at least one of its prostitutes upstairs. Now, this is the place to go during the game or when you’re thirsty for a huge variety of local and craft beers.
Go here first, then kick the bucket
Excerpts from Bucket List Bars, A Jetsetting Drinker’s Almanac
Dr. Clint Lanier and Derek Hembree make a great point in the introduction to Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs and Dives of America ($17): travelers all too often settle for the first pub, bar or saloon they see and are subsequently faced with aloof service, microwaved grub and a beer list straight from a frat house party. No more, they declare. Their collection of watering holes — though with its faults — provides at the very least a superb starting place for the thirsty traveler.
The pages that follow this introduction are a libational laundry list of select bars in a few regions of the U.S. including NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Austin, Denver, Las Vegas and LA. Their lists are far from exhaustive, but, of course, a complete catalog wouldn’t quite fit “bucket list” stature, and would be one hell of a tome. Each of the cities has primers on a few top-tier drinking spots to try out, complete with cliff notes on history, what you should try (both to eat and to drink) and nearby distractions and notable bars. This final section is what we like most about Lanier and Hembree’s work; it makes the bar the jumping-off point for a whole adventure in a new place.
And while the book’s photography is less than stellar and it tends to be short on bars even in the cities selected, a paired iPad app and a website with bolstered content (updates on bars on the list, historical articles, additional places to see and things to do, videos of each bar on the list and their signature cocktails) gives the book some definitive clout. We recommend Bucket List Bars be safely tucked in your luggage bag from now until the day you finally quit drinking.