Robert Louis Stevenson once opined that 'wine is bottled poetry.' And to that we add that so too is a good bourbon, tequila and even a nice Belgian ale. (We'll beat you to the joke and agree that some beers are 'canned' poetry.) In honor of a good drink and a good rhyme, for our third-annual bars and clubs issue, we broke out the rhyming dictionaries and hit up some of our favorite watering holes. Judge our poems in the same way you'd judge the words of the old souse in the corner--not always coherent but occasionally they make sense.
Note: For each bar we've included an as-accurate-as-possible list of amenities. 'Food' includes anything edible except what's in the garnish caddies; 'music' includes DJs and bands. 'Games' is anything from darts to pool tables to chessboards. If you need specifics, ring up the bar or check the website. And remember: All things in moderation--think about how you'll feel the next morning before you order that shot, and a cab costs far less than a DUI. Our guide starts on Page 18.
Contributors: Kelly Davis, Edwin Decker, Sheena Hamilton, Troy Johnson, Kia Momtazi, Kinsee Morlan, Justin Roberts, David Rolland, Tina Safi, AnnaMaria Stephens, Kim Swain, Eric Wolff and Candice Woo.
AC/DC's on the juke and I feel right at home, So does the little dog at my feet--I think I'll call him Jerome.
Used to be a big black penis near the place's southern wall, Back when it was Sparky's--I don't miss that hideous thing, not at all.
Wireless Internet's a really nice touch, For imbibers with laptops they can't help but clutch.
Dude at the bar just won a wad of cash, For a hot-pepper-eating contest, five minutes and nary a water's splash.
Old beer taps hang from a beam like bats, Waiting to swoop down on belly'd up guys in trucker hats.
Christmas lights overhead make for a festive feel, Ha! That drunk in the corner just might keel.
Foosball table's sitting there lonely and sad, Not so for shuffleboard, being played by a guy in shorts of plaid.
Glad the Super Chexx hockey game's not on the blink-- There's hours of fun to be had in that little rink.
Army of Darkness is flickering on the TV screen, Now that the Padres match is over--you know, the team with Khalil Greene.
Saturday, 10 o'clock and Hamilton's is filling up, Now Nirvana's on the box--hey, where's Jerome, the itty-bitty pup?
Big board on the wall tells my brew's alcohol content-- Thanks! That helps me know my inebriation's extent.
Just one complaint: There's not enough chicks, Good thing the young men here don't seem like dicks.
Pepper boy looks like he wishes he hadn't done it, Little consolation that his buddies holler, 'You're the shit!'
This is a friendly joint in one of Diego's coolest 'hoods, A day in the life at Hamilton's in South Park and it's all good.
I'm the only girl in the bar, Yes, I'm the only girl in the bar, Oh, I'm the only girl in the bar-- And I feel, well, a little weird. Oh wait--there's Debbie, our bartender, She introduced herself when we came in. So, too, did the old guy at the front door: 'Welcome to the Pal Joey show!' he grinned. 'No cover charge, free parking, great service,' Says Debbie as we pay and take our drinks: Vodka on the rocks, two olives, one Jack-and-coke And over to a table we slink. Vinyl booths, wood panels, red candles-- Amber chandeliers--a very nice touch, 'I'm going to start a band called 'Parmesan,'' says my date; Sometimes he can be a bit much. I hear that this place can get busy; A younger crowd shows up when it's late. For now there's guys sipping beer at the bar-- One, two, three... for a total of eight. At the back there's a stage with red curtains, Two pool tables, some games, lots of space. You can order tacos at El Rodeo next door And have them delivered to this place. 'Mi amigo de corazon!' says Debbie When the guy from El Rodeo comes in, He drops off an order and chats with the guys, One of whom might be named Glen. The place feels a little Twin Peaks-- It's dark, but it's got Midwestern charm; It's ideal for folks like us hipster geeks Who try to avoid Gaslamp smarm. I'm still the only girl in the bar, Yep, I'm still the only girl in the bar, Oh, I'm still the only girl in the bar, ('Cept for Debbie) But I really dig this spot.
Red Fox Room
(Drinking with the ghost of Shirley Allen)
The walls are dark, mahogany stained, As if from the wood the blood'nt drained.
Dark red and dim like murderous lanterns-- The Red Fox Room is full of phantoms.
Of Marion Davies, Fuzzy, and Fredrick, Their spirits yet had not ascended.
But no spirit I know comes here more often, Than the loving ghost of Shirley Allen,
Who played this room for many years, Who cancer took, despite all our sneers.
Who visits us from time to time, To try and touch what she left behind.
Who whiffs on the bistro back in the back, And presses her face against stained glass.
Who runs her hand across piano keys, And strokes a melody with ghostly ease.
The shadow of Shirley walks here still, Cause she--like we--can't get our fill
Of this ancient inn from the fifteen-hundreds, From a small hilltop in Surrey, England.
Stowed piece by piece on a once-great ship, And brought to America in '26.
They took it from there and rebuilt it here-- Now Shirley's grin spans from ear to ear.
Then the ghost of mi'lady floats away, But will return another day,
To weave in and out of patrons tables And listen to their dreams and fables.
Live Wire, oh Live Wire-- My favorite neighborhood dive. You make North Park great, Make me feel like I'm alive.
After long and treacherous days, Burning in the San Diego sun, Stumbling home from you at night Has never been such amazing fun.
Your not-so-sparkling bathrooms, Smelly as they may be, Are sometimes spattered with vomit-- But make a great place to pee.
Your bartenders know what's right-- And they keep us all happy They stop people from driving away drunk at night, They serve three dollar PBR--now, that's snappy.
Mod girls and hipster boys, Here, they're never, ever a bore, And if I buy them enough drinks, I know I'm always sure to score.
Live Wire, oh Live Wire, True love has come to pass-- Since I've met you I must say, Simply put, Live Wire, you kick ass!
The Happiest Place on Earth
No neon mating call hangs over the door At this ancient hovel-- You must know someone who knows it, And then beg, flirt and grovel.
To call this room a shack Overstates its standing; It's made of forsaken wood Held together by chewing gum, string and banding.
The locals smile amid the wreckage, The Old Man's smile is chipped, is broke A woman in a band serves bad beer and chips, A nervous dog twitches amid all the smoke.
It's on the edge of condemnation, It's on the edge of another time, Back before vice was served over purified ice Before nice-smelling men ruined The Night
Before decorated women asked for better, For cleaner, for richer, for anything but this Where good people do questionable things With a laugh, with a wink, with mild bliss.
They call it The Happiest Place on Earth And beers are cheap, for what it's worth.
There's a trailer park just to the west, And a donut shop a few doors away, Where men who walk home with a stumble Are overwhelmed by the scent of the glaze.
In Leucadia, where crystals and beads abound, This is where the beachies let loose From a hard day's ride on the surf, And the day job's noose.
The locals are light but the wood is dark, Like pear meat in a kettle There's billiards, shuffleboard and darts, Where bar side Olympians show their mettle.
From the nautical décor to the old-time 'tenders, And the recovering addicts meeting next door, This is the spot that time forgot But reminds us what moderation is for.
Standing Room Only
Plush Renaissance and art nouveau, Red and gold carpet, dim chandelier glow, Hidden safely inside a darkened entryway, Pleasure-seeking patrons sip the day away.
Welcome to SRO, Flashy, fun, trashy--it's the place to go. Pretty Paula sits nearby A pained look in her makeup-covered eye.
Mirrors surround Paula's lone stool, She reapplies lipstick trying to play it cool. Paula takes a sip, looks like a pretty little doll Trying to forget that, really, she's Paul.
All those Tijuana trips paid off, she thinks, Facial hair all but gone now, she drinks; Sharp tips of estrogen shots in hips, Pulling at wig, adjusting fake rubber nips.
Aged Marys, queens and a few bears, too, Still pictures telling stories old and new, Past patrons flash across a TV screen-- Paula knows just how much they mean.
Bright smiles, tight neighborhood feel, Outside a freak--in here, she's real. And so is everyone else who likes a little fun; SRO's a friendly place--it's bar none.
The Pink Elephant Bar
There's a new bar in North Park On 30th street-- It's dark but it sparkles, It's roomy and sweet.
Bar Pink Elephant Draws a sharp but chill crowd-- Queers and hipsters both mingle, They drink and get loud.
Bubbles hang from the ceiling, Shine on the dark walls; The only space un-bubbled Are the bathroom stalls.
Like you're inside a bottle Of cheap pink champagne, The kind that does Wonderful things to your brain.
There's couches for cuddlin', Two tables for pool, A few booths for sittin' And sippin' on gruel.
If they took out the carpet It'd be a good move-- Cuz people spill drinks When they shimmy and groove.
The bartenders have style-- They all sport major ink, They could move a bit faster But they mix a mean drink.
The bar in the middle Is bigger than most-- Painted pink with gold glitter, You can sit there and toast.
With their signature drink Made from pink lemonade, Or a four-dollar pint Of Stone IPA.
There's hooks 'neath the bar Oh yes, they were thinkin' (So a lady can hang up Her purse while she's drinkin').
The Pink Elephant Is not quite a dive-- Yes, it's dark and it's funky But it seems more alive.
Ten p.m. on a Wednesday And the joint--it is on On the deck there's a DJ, She's spinnin' soul songs.
The location is sweet As the uptown crowd knows-- And it'll only get better As the neighborhood grows.
So stop in for a drink-- Be sorry, you shan't, When you say hello To the Pink El-e-phant.
Albie's Beef Inn
There's a surprise at the Mission Valley Travelodge, That moralistic tongue-cluckers should probably dodge-- Because those types might think it's a grave sin To hang out with the old folks at Albie's Beef Inn.
It's not the piano bar that'll raise their brow, The performers at Albie's deserve to take a bow, Belting out tune after mid-century tune, They just can't wait to fly you to the moon.
White coifs and wrinkles don't cause offense, Think of the elderly as your best defense. If a guy from Cocoon tries to hit on your date, Remind her who's more likely to be able to inflate.
Kickin' it with the AARPs is all part of the fun, They've got many decades of yarns to be spun. Plus there's usually a table or two of young drinkers That the surlier regulars can refer to as stinkers.
No, there's nothing wrong with this hoary crowd-- That doesn't mean slutty, if you're wondering aloud. Hoary means old, or in nicer parlance, vintage As appealingly retro as an old-timey song is.
Nor can you complain about Albie's strong drinks, Kicking derrieres and leading to crazy hijinks, Just don't order some new-fangled mix-- Frou-frou cocktails will make you look like pricks.
But none of this sounds very questionable, right? What Bible-thumper would want to put up a fight? Even if customers were drunk or the vocals out of key, That's hardly considered a moral catastrophe.
You've been waiting patiently for an enlightening clue To why any goody-goody would want to eschew Albie's Beef Inn, such an alluring destination, So let's move things along in this rhyming narration.
When you first saunter in and find your seat, Stiff won't refer to your hi-ball of bourbon neat, That tingling in your pants, that tug at your balls Has a lot to do with what's hanging on the walls.
Nudie paintings, dear readers, reach to the ceiling, And will send the heads of the sexually timid reeling. These soft-focused oils show boobs and bush galore, The second you behold them, you'll wish for more.
It's not like it's down-and-dirty smut or porn, That would have vice loudly blowing the horn. Just sweet, curvy girls, immortally preening To give those old-timers' lives some new meaning.
Parking may be a hard fit, But the Starlite Lounge--it's the shit. Food so fine, always a good time, Once you start, you'll never quit.
Walking from far-parked car, I see hipsters tumbling from afar-- Flat shoe wearing, people staring, I'm intrigued and slightly amused.
But before I can enter the door, A man with handlebar 'stache, he wants more; He wants to see my ID Before I start to get boozed, you see.
I step inside--the design drops my jaw-- Different, mod, earthy and ingeniously raw. Modern organic, chic without being pretentious, Man, this place must be really expensive.
Green staghorns stem from rock brown walls, And from the depths of cool, there crawls A bartender who hears my silent cries; And I order a cool drink with ice.
Behind sunken central bar she serves While dark slim chandelier calms my nerves. Like Bettie Boop but much cuter-- She's got white-black hair and someone's tattooed her.
I walk past the boy-girl bathroom door, And the outdoor bar to get a healthy pour. I find a patio to inhale fresh air, And watch recognizable rockers stroll by with flare.
I sip a cucumber-tini at my own pace, Man, how I wish I could tell you about this place Without having to do it in rhyme; Definitely try the olives marinated in thyme.
But you do get my gist, right? At Starlite, there's never a bad night. The new Tim Mays creation is great, So hurry up--if you haven't been, you're already late.
Johnny V, JRDN, Bar West
There once were three bars in PB, With just one sensibility. Gaslamp swank has invaded, Will PB be upgraded From a party-hard land by the sea?
Faux Roman villa, Johnny V-- Enter and see the fake oak tree, Surrounded by flowers, We ponder for hours: Why fake plants in sunny San-Dee?
Huge room, square bar--V's wants a crowd, Swank, sexy, rich, drunk and loud, With steak, shrimp and ahi, A nice dry martini, Soon poverty you will have vowed.
JRDN on the beach has much class, Watch waves over the rim of your glass, More eatery than bar, With modern décor, But the prices make your money go fast.
Bar West focuses more on the round, Curves, ovals and circles abound. If you're drunk and you fall, No one catches you at all, No edges to harm you on the way down.
Bubbles drape down from the ceiling, The booth circle is very appealing, The mushy orange chairs May gather looks and stares, But the huge fish pic will leave folks reeling.
Ten bucks a cocktail, spend cash in a blur, So make each drink last--take sips, sir; But the drinkers are hot, Or at least worth a shot-- See, Bar West loves its inner hipster.
Is PB the Gaslamp moved west? Swank decor and high prices say yes. Are these joints the cool? Or are they run by fools? It's up to you to pick what's best. -Eric Wolff
Where do you go when you're a young (legal) boy, Looking to become another man's toy? Where might you be, as a firm hairy man Seeking to rub on another man's tan? Where could you head, you fly boyish gal, If you want a lady for more than your pal? Where can you visit, when you want to be seen Among chicks who call themselves kings and guys dressed up as queens?
Bacchus House is a place you can do this and more, By day games and videos, by night dancing galore. It's named for the Roman god of parties and wine, And you'll find out the title suits them more than fine. The place doesn't look like too much from the street, But inside on the dance floor there's plenty of heat. The theme's gothic--medieval?--or some such a thing, Like a time when only boys and men could be kings. If faux stone and statues aren't your favorite trappings, The beats are so loud there's no way you'll be napping. Handsome devils and angels on the walls are framed, Their muscles a-ripplin, carnality untamed. On the rest of the walls, you'll find mirrored glass, So you can discretely check out lots of ass. When other bars have closed down for the night, The party rages at Bacchus, and it's quite a sight. The dance floor's not as vast as some other joints, But being smaller isn't without finer points. When you're not just one beast in a huge massive herd, Less of your invitations just might get deferred. But in case you still need some external aid, To find a nice bachelor and get yourself laid, On a card from the bar write your pertinent info-- Check 'top' 'bottom' or 'vers' (so they know where it goes into). Hand the card to a hottie, and with any luck Later on he'll be calling you up for a f**k.
So try Bacchus next time, my queer little friend, When with like-minded people you'd like to blend. (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are good nights for the chicks, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the dudes who like dicks.) If you come out and join in the dancing and laughter, You might just end up happily ever after.