Everything You Hate To Love About Dive Bars

Dive Bars are like the girl from She’s All That if she never took off her glasses, but everyone thought she was (non-traditionally) attractive in the first place. Let’s say she also has weird habits and a smell you can’t place, but everyone has such a soft spot for her. And even the popular jocks from high school frequent her several times a month—okay, nevermind, this is a terrible metaphor. Anyway, let’s talk about what makes a dive bar!

Everyone has at least one weird, wild story, if not a dozen.


Dive bars are this weird limbo where, for some insane reason, your moral compass doesn’t work. It just goes all screwy, like when a magnet gets too close to a legitimate compass. You think this decision is pointing toward northern glory, but it’s actually leading you straight to southern infamy, the likes of which will be hard to justify the next day or even explain a year from the next day. Everyone who’s been there has a story that starts all wide-eyed with “Oh man, so this one night…”

Offers drinks you aren’t even sure are legal.

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Dive bars have drink menus, but they’re either short-hand or a formality. They’ll have something called a “bar mat shot,” where they put everything leftover on the counter into a glass, or they’ll have something called a “we honestly just punch you in the gut” shot, which you’ve obviously always been too scared to order. That’s why you keep ordering beers or well drinks. They might be the only things that keep you alive.

The food sucks unless you’re drunk.


Dive bars don’t have kitchens. If they do, they don’t have health codes or respect for the food pyramid. Everything you could possibly eat there are technically sides anyway and they’ll taste mostly like batter. You’re probably eating a day’s worth of calories in one dive bar sitting. Surely, you didn’t start your evening thinking you would end it with, “I’ll have the chips and salsa and mozzarella sticks with a side of onion rings.” Are you going to wash those all down with your cheap beer? Cool, see you in Hell, old age.

It’s filled with “lasts.”


Dive bars all have a crowd of lasts. They don’t make up the entire drinking capacity, but, sprinkled throughout the drunks, the cheapskates, and the college kids, there are consistent patrons with wild life stories. From women who look like last hopes, men who look like last resorts, and a spread of weirdos you may revisit at last call, there’s a huge spread of human experience garnishing your Jack and Coke. People on their last leg are there drinking their last beer (they swear, this time!), and then there’s you, just wanting to read last rites to a good number of them to put ’em out of their misery with a last breath.

By Jake Kilroy

Raised by handsome wolves, Jake Kilroy is a liberal atheist vegan, so he’s naturally adored and celebrated at any dinner party he attends. Follow him on Twitter at @jakekilroy.

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