Most people have a favourite watering hole, but how many can say they’ve gotten drunk at the most famous bars in America?
Derek Hembree and Clint Lanier are college buddies who decided to travel around the U.S. to discover the best saloons, pubs, and dives across the country.
They published their findings in a book, Bucket List Bars.
Each bar has a story, from Al Capone’s favourite speakeasy to the setting of the greatest party ever thrown.
If you’re a true bar aficionado, it’s worth paging through the more than 70 drinking locations mentioned in the book. We spoke with the bar-hopping duo to find out which were their absolute favourites.
1607 San Jacinto Blvd.
What To Drink: Beer, any kind
Scholz Garten is one of the coolest (and oldest) beer gardens in the country. Founded by a German immigrant in 1866, you can still sit outside and listen to bands play while sipping your authentic Bavarian beer, just like when it first opened its doors.
'Most of the Texas politicians go here to drink after legislature,' Lanier said. 'It's a very cultural experience.'
4802 N. Broadway Ave.
What To Drink: Gin Martini
'This is where Al Capone used to hang out, and they still have the booth that he would sit in. And you can sit in it, too -- just get there early enough,' Lanier warned.
The Green Mill also has great live jazz and a really cool atmosphere since it hasn't changed much since its days as a 1920s speakeasy.
3454 Doniphan Dr.
What To Drink: A bottle of Lone Star and a shot of Cuervo
'People might get angry, but I like Rosa's Cantina,' Lanier confessed. 'It has an amazing legacy to the area.'
Rosa's was founded in the post-prohibition 1940s, and still remains a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
1962 Market St.
What To Drink: Coors Banquet Beer
At one time, El Chapultepec was considered the best bar in the world because of the calibre of musicians that would come play jazz music here.
'Frank Sinatra played there, Bill Clinton played there,' Lanier said. 'Even though the area around it has become really gentrified, it's stayed completely the same since 1933.'
310 Spring St.
What To Drink: A shot and a beer
Just a little ways out from Vegas, Pioneer Saloon was where Clark Gable mourned his late wife when her plane crashed in the mountain behind the saloon. You can still see the inch-deep burn mark his cigar made at the counter.
There are also three little holes in the back: 'It's from 1916 when a guy was cheating at cards, and the dealer plugged him right there,' Lanier said. 'The bullets went through the wall, but the owners never bothered to patch it up.'
26 Marlborough St.
What To Drink: Dark and Stormy
Constructed in 1652, the White Horse Tavern officially became a bar in 1672. Today, you can still sit by large fireplaces on antique furniture and feel like you're back in the late 17th century.
'The son of the original owner was actually a pirate, and he was smuggling rum under the British's noses,' Lanier added. 'Everyone protected him because no one really liked the British anyway.'
279 Water St.
What To Drink: Old Fashioned
The Bridge Café has been serving patrons (in one way or another) since it first opened in 1794.
'This is one of my favourites just because of the sheer history of the place -- it was a brothel, a smugglers den, it's haunted,' Lanier laughed. 'It checks off all the marks that make a bar cool.'
138 S. 2nd St.
What To Drink: A Shrub, a Tavern Cooler, or Ales of the Revolution
One of the biggest parties in history actually happened at The City Tavern. After signing the Constitution, 55 members of congress plus George Washington went through 100 bottles of wine, 22 bottles of porter, 12 bottles of beer, eight bottles of whiskey, eight bottles of hard cider, and seven bowls of spiked punch.
'Then to top it all off, the tavern keeper had to charge them an extra 2% for broken glasses,' Lanier added. 'So it really got out of hand.'
Bonus: One of the beers the current chef makes was derived from a recipe that George Washington hand wrote himself.
204 Alamo Plaza
What To Drink: The house margarita or a Lone Star
The Menger Bar has hosted presidents, generals, writers, poets, and more, including Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
'What really sets The Menger Bar apart is that Teddy Roosevelt recruited a lot of his Rough Riders here in this bar,' Lanier explained. 'He even got sanctioned and disciplined for buying his men beer.'
48 Webster St., Jack London Square
What To Drink: Local craft beer or a glass of local wine.
'You walk into Heinold's and they still use gas lamps in there,' Lanier told us. 'The place is a wreck, and I think it was a wreck since the day it was built.'
Heinold's First and Last Chance was built from the timbers of an old whaling ship, so it's not too fancy. But it more than makes up for it in character, with antiques on the walls and the same table where author Jack London would write, study, and listen to the stories of the sailors who would frequent the bar.
538 E. 9th St.
What To Drink: Maker's Mark or Stoli on ice
Located in the Iron Horse District of Old Town Tucson, The Buffet Bar & Crock Pot is one of Tuscon's oldest bars -- and the friendliest.
'If Cheers was a dive bar, it would be The Buffet,' Lanier said. 'It's just really welcoming -- it's a big family there.'
52 Windward Ave.
What To Drink: Manhattan
'This place was opened in 1915 by an Italian immigrant,' Lanier told us. 'When prohibition hit, he turned the top into a grocery store and moved the bar downstairs.'
Today, the Townhouse has some of the best vintage cocktails in the nation, which use fresh juices, hand-cut ice, and house-made syrups.
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