A simple but important list of what every bar needs (and somethings it doesn’t).
1. A television with sports and news channels. Nothing else. No movies, no Entertainment Tonight, no Lost episodes, no Star Trek.
2. Draft beer. There ought to be at least one skanky choice. Pabst, Genny, Schlitz etc.
3. A toilet, preferably one that if you really had to, you could take a dump in, but only in emergencies.
4. Food that isn’t good for you that’s breaded and deep fried. Bonus points for something disgusting behind the bar like pickled eggs or tongue or pig’s feet.
5. Sports schedules. The regional team schedules the beer distributor gives for free.
6. Juke box. See previous posts.
7. Regulars. People who you know will be there. You don’t have to like them but you have to know them. This isn’t Applebees.
8. No children. Sorry. Get a sitter and then come out.
9. No cell phone answering. If yours rings go outside.
10. An efficient bartender. He or she can be rude and ugly but you shouldn’t have to wait for a drink a second longer than you have to.
11. Authenticity. Faux atomosphere sucks. If you’ve got a formica floor and a drop ceiling in your strip mall bar you’re not going to fool anyone with an anchor, a moose head or some fishing net you got at Pier 1.
12 History. There needs to be an unspoken backstory. A fight, a bust, a blackout, a championship bowling team, the time somebody’s old lady came in with a gun–something, anything.
13. A lack of fads. No blender drinks, no Bud Lime, no “Sex On the Beach,” no visit from the Coor’s Lite Girls…this isn’t ff’in Disney.
14. No ratting. If someone comes in–a wife, a girlfriend, a cop, a bookie– and says “Have you seen Stinky?” the answer is a disinterested shoulder shrug and a sudden obsession with Sports Center.
15. Stupidity. Inane arguments, misguided extreme opinions and uneducated points of view aren’t just tolerated, they are encouraged.
16. A bar outing. Once a year there needs to be a pig roast, a clam steam, a trip to a ball game, a golf tournament–something. It starts and ends at the bar.
17. Stools with backs. They don’t have to swivel, be made out of leather or look good but they have to support your back for a long time.
18. A bar rail to rest your feet on.
19. A rear exit. See # 14
20. A certain smell. An aroma, an essence–something that let’s you know you’re there. Not air freshner, potpourri. Something like the combination of flat beer, popcorn, deep fried grease and the hockey pucks in the urinals.