Top 10 Places To Have a Beer

4 08 2009

1.  McSorley’s Irish Pub | New York City

The first time I went to McSorley’s, I was asked to leave for drinking too slow.  In my defense, we had been there a couple of hours prior to the notification.  They ask that you order their house beers, light or dark, in multiples in order to save the staff a little time.  Should you forget the menu and order a Budweiser, the surly staff will look at you like you have three heads.  Needless to say, ordering 14 dark at a time took its toll.  The line at the door let us know that, if you aren’t willing to play by the traditional rules, there are plenty of people who are.  This is the oldest pub in Manhattan and it acts like it.  The floors are sticky, the food is minimal and the view into the mens room from the bar lets you know that you are the guest.  It’s a great spot to start the night!

2.  Father’s Office | Santa Monica, CA

When I moved to California, I thought my burger days were over.  My buddy Chad directed me to a little oasis just down the street from my house.  They have over 100 beers and a staff that is well versed in all of them.  Samples flow freely and flavors vary so much that you will forget half of what you learn.  Or maybe that was just the beer doing its job?  While the beer is great, the burgers are the star of the show at the Father’s Office.  The mix of carmelized onions, bleu cheese and arugula go very well with way too many of the beers they offer.  If you have the appetite for a small shopping cart of fries, it may prolong the euphoria that slowly settles in your soul.  This is the iconic burger joint in Los Angeles and worth every high calorie bite.

3.  Dive Bar | Roatan, Honduras

I sat in a swing on the sand that actually doubled as my bar stool.  Watch your knees if you start swaying too high!  Positioned oceanfront on the pristine blue waters and riddled with aroma of fresh fish, this is the best place for a morning beer.  The bartender didn’t speak much English, but he made up for it in smiles and frosty local brew.  Drinking Salva Vida and watching the boats come in as the fish tacos were being plated was a great treat.  Someone should write a song about this place!  It is that good in every aspect!

4.  James Joyce Irish Pub | Baltimore, MD

The perfect pint of Guiness!  If you can get in on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s worth it.  Free corn beef sandwiches, perfect pints and Irish dancers flood the pub.  Most of the staff is Irish as well, so it holds a little of that Dublin flair.  I watched 6 older Irishmen polish off what had to be about 60 Guiness over a prolonged lunch.  It gave me great hope that good beer never gets old.  The menu at the James Joyce is stellar as well.  I highly recommend the Guiness Pie.

5.  Hog’s Breath Saloon | Key West, FL

In my only attempt to bring back a classic, I drank PBR in a frosty can during my time at Hog’s Breath.  I left the dive boat with a motley crew of bar folks.  We didn’t bother to change from our board shorts and flip flops before entering.  I think we were the only ones that noticed.  The music was festive.  I remember a song about Dom Perignon and left over chicken for some reason.  This is the most unpretentious place on the planet and, while the beer selection is modest, it makes up for it in ambiance.

6.  Charlie’s | Cancun, Mexico

Once I figured out the drive from downtown Cancun to the outskirts, my expectations became increasingly lower by the kilometer.  The small beach colony, which is designed for tourists like me, was charming and slightly Americanized.  I found my spot on the beach tables and took it all in.  The waitress came over with a cold Dos Equis and I, immediately, thought more of the place.  Anywhere in Mexico that doesn’t bring an American a Corona is alright by me.  Then came the guacamole and homemade chips.  The saltiness of the sea and tortillas was the perfect blend with the avocado, lime and beer.  This was a good spot for the day.  My euphoric state as a I drove back into Cancun led me the wrong way down a one way street, but, with the help of some locals and a little broken Spanish, I managed to get back to where I started.  Though I really wanted 7 more days at Charlie’s.

7.  The Dock House | Morehead City, NC

This semi-hometown haunt is a long time favorite of mine.  If you’ve never had drinks with fishermen, and I mean real fishermen, this is worth the trip.  Located right on the docks of a small fishing village, the Dock House is simple, casual and pours more draft than anywhere I’ve been.  The salty breeze, the light odor of the daily catch, the cold beer and warm air engulfs even the most sophisticated palates.  The crew I drank with interrupted the conversation for a sip of whisky every so often.  I ended up on a porch across the street while they sailed out for the next days catch.  True warriors of the sea!

8.  Hurricane’s | Clearwater, FL

Waiting on a hurricane to pass through the Gulf of Mexico while drinking at a place called Hurricane’s was surreal.  The bartender spewed a compelling monologue about Trappist beers that rivals any sales pitch I’ve given.  So, amongst the Duvel and Chimay, we gave prophecies about the storm and just what the plan was in a worst case scenario.  Granted, none of us at the bar were capable of carrying out any of the plans after a while.  I stumbled down the beach to my shack in the middle of the night and awoke to find only a few stray palms on the beach the next morning.  I think the monks in Belgium sensed that I was supporting their trade and sent out good signals for a safe journey home.

9.  Million Dollar Cowboy Bar | Jackson Hole, WY

After an eye opening flight into Wyoming, I needed a beer!  The town in January is pristine with fresh snow, lingering holiday decorations and a welcoming local population.  The saddle bar stools concerned me for a brief time.  Then we started in on the Stone Brewing Company catalog and it all made perfect sense.  I did learn a valuable lesson that day.  Gravity, balance and beer do not support your feet in the stirrups of an object that is not in motion.  I can stay on a horse for an afternoon, but there was question amongst the bouncers if I stayed on the barstool a full 8 seconds.  Luckily, they let me finish my beer before I embarked on a crisp walk back to my hotel.  That was the best walk below 32 degrees that I’ve ever had!

10.  Yankee Stadium | Bronx, NY

The Yanks were playing the Orioles in the old stadium.  It was my dad’s first game ever in New York, though he’s been a fan all of his life.  We ordered Nathan’s hot dogs, a couple of over priced light beers and watched the pin stripes pull out a 9th inning win.  The 4 train was a very happy place that day.  Even though the prices were high, the look on my old mans face as he sat and cheered the home team on to victory was worth at least double.  Although, if I’m going to pay double, we could at least get a better beer in the cup.  Right!?

You may have gathered that it’s not necessarily the type of beer you drink, but where you drink it and who you drink it with that really matters.  Explore the world one pint at a time.  Cheers!




One response

17 10 2009

Glad to see your still a fan of the James Joyce…years later! Nice to see you doing so well. I was flipping through some old pictures, and saw you. Been a long time!

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