This summer you may find yourself at an establishment that serves alcohol. There are hundreds of thousands of these places varying in nearly every aspect from music, to lighting, to price to patronage. Recently, you will find that most of them follow an ADJECTIVE + ANIMAL naming scheme such as Blind Tiger, Red Lion, Spotted Pig.
And yet, it can be so difficult to find the bar that’s just right for your mood. The one thats just perfect. This got us to thinking about what exactly is the perfect bar? It’s a uniquely personal question. What you pick as your perfect bar reflects your taste in bars but also your taste in lifestyles. Is your perfect bar a laid back outdoor patio, or is it a sticky pile of bodies mushing together while Clarity by Zedd plays on loop? We asked our staff to describe their perfect bar.
It’s high time I admit the only thing I care about at a bar is the music. The place can be overpriced, overdressed, lacking in seating and the bartender could spit on my face and I’d still want to go back if they played Yeezus. Just play rap, please. The music applies to any type of bar, but if I had to choose one kind, my perfect bar would be better suited for 1am than 6pm. Aesthetically, I really like bars that mix high and low culture: gold plated frames showcasing shitty artwork; trap music and expensive cocktails. The floors are sticky but the bathrooms are out of a Victorian mansion. The kind of place where you can’t help but wonder how much the bartenders make. Most people order tallboy Modelos and spill them on the expensive furniture when they are standing atop them dancing to Diamonds (Remix).
A good bar only really needs two things.
1) Purse hooks. Every surface of a bar is allowed to be disgusting as long as I don’t have to balance my purse on my knee or decide I don’t like my bag that much anyway and just throw it on the ground under my barstool. I’ve actually daydreamed about owning a bar called Hooks that is just literally covered in hooks. Hooks in the bathroom, hooks at the bar, hooks in the booths. Ask any female. She will agree.
2) A sizable plate of French fries. And like, they don’t need to be truffle fries or come with four kinds of aioli, just give me a trough of fries, please. If I’m at a bar and their happy hour menu has the audacity to offer me a four dollar plate of seasoned almonds, GOODBYE.
… If you locked me in a broom closet with a purse hook and a bowl of French fries I will Yelp that shit at 5 stars.
I’ve always thought the idea of going to an Applebee’s ironically but secretly loving it is funny and dumb and something that’s low key happened to many young people. So my ideal bar would be one that goes another layer of irony deeper to have a bar that makes fun of people who make fun of “American dining” franchises like Applebee’s (Chili’s, TGI Friday’s, you know—Shenanigan’s and whatnot).
Basically, it’s identical to all of those but jumps between good rap and indietronica (or whatever we’re calling that now), and the only beer on tap is a half liter of Pilser Urquell for $3. So the people walking in to enjoy a regular Applebee’s are immediately turned off never to return, whereas the clever fucks that think they’re being ironic walk in and don’t have a choice but to openly enjoy themselves.
The coolest bar I’ve ever wandered into was an artistic vortex in Budapest called, ironically, Szimpla. It was huge, with two floors comprised of terraces and big open rooms with a kaleidoscope of décor, from bicycles to old cars to Cold War-era appliances jutting out of the vine-covered walls. I remember thinking that it was like they started with a solitary beer tap and worked outward, a come-one, come-all bohemian mosaic that came to psychedelic life under vibrant lighting and a few shots of honey-plum palinka.
So if that’s my canvas, I would start with the same basic infrastructure and then do what my country does best: steal the idea and make it a little more hokey and American. Not so much in the sense that I would sell Coors Light, because as soon as the can turns blue, the soul of the place follows suit. But I’d need a couple big TVs for crucial sporting events, and I’d need bar games sprinkled throughout — dartboard over here, shuffleboard over there. Because competing with your friends over the next round of drinks is as essential to the whole experience as a bathroom. I’d want a stage setup for a DJ or the occasional live band, but only on select nights. The world doesn’t need another haven for garage bands on open mic night.
So that’s my own Utopian dream of revelry, sheathed in bizarre orbit art but with just enough of a rowdy sports bar undercurrent that no one wanders in to try and pitch a screenplay. If this sounds cool you can come visit me there. It’s around the corner from Valhalla and you can give the keys of your flying Mazda Miata to the valet, for free. But try and take a Lyft, navigating the skies is much safer that way. And besides, you won’t be leaving here without having a few.
My perfect bar would be ambiguously referred to as a lounge, because it’s less sticky of a word and confuses certain people on what to wear. You know the type – they’re always out but spend most of their time murmuring under the music about how they hate being there:
“Where are we going again?”
“This new spot called Dorne that just opened up. I heard good things.”
“I mean is it a club or a bar?”
“It’s kinda – it’s more lounge-y.”
“Ugh, well what should I…I’m already burning up in this fucking sweater.”
Dorne would be most lit on weeknights during the summer, as to suffice for the bulkier laundry loads that accumulate during the hotter months and soak up more of our weekends washing. No cover or amateur bands doing shitty covers. And best of all– other than having Lagunitas IPA on tap – Dorne would feature hired floater-men whose sole purpose is to take 584573 versions of the same picture for drunk-eyed groups of girls so the rest of us can focus on looking cool, and staying cool, in those sweaters.
My perfect bar only includes more bathrooms so the lines aren’t long and so I can befriend other drunk girls and we can compliment each other on our lipsticks.
To be honest, I hate bars. They are noisy and unpredictable and the worst of all possible adjectives: sticky. You know what I don’t hate, though? Books. Thus: Barter. Barter is my idea of a perfect bar. It operates–surprise!–solely on the barter system and that barter system–surprise!–relies only on books and booze. Give a book, get some booze. Give another book, get more booze. You see how this works. The interior is probably something like a sexy library, whatever that looks like. For an extra book, smoking jackets are available to wear so that everyone can live their best Hugh Hefner life while enjoying libations and literature. You must come and go with at least one book. Basically, Barter is inspired and sponsored by this John Waters quote: “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” (This Filthy World, 2007)
Think of a bar presented as a theme park for adults. Upon entering you are handed a map of the sections. “Backyard BBQ Land” has $3 Corona w/ lime, $5 Bacon Cheese burgers with home fries and is in a perpetually-sunny, gravel-grounded, picnic-tabled outdoor area. “Intimate Irma’s Cove” is filled with candle lit tables and features a bartender who pretends to know you so you look cool to your date. Lastly, you can hit “Da Cluh,” but only if you’re ready to get fully turnt.
The perfect bar has fireball flowing freely, with encouragement instead of judgement. 90s R&B and Hip-Hop bumps from the speakers all night, and no you can’t play Next’s Too Close or Pony by Ginuwine too many times. The urge to suddenly dance on a table or even the bar won’t get you kicked out but might actually score you a free shot. And every other hour there’s a mimosa chugging race, because why should the best part of brunch end at 4.