I love bars. Real bars. Dark places that smell like stale beer and sweat and lingering smoke. Places where the best light in the joint shines from underneath a wall of bottles. Places where bartenders don’t ask if you want a menu. They don’t have any damn menus. All they have is beer, wine, and the hard stuff. And little bowls of nuts or crunch-n-munch on the bar.
Virginia doesn’t have real bars. We have restaurants that serve alcohol. By law, it has to be something like 50/50 — used to be 75/25. Hell, restaurants in VA couldn’t legally sell a mixed drink until the mid-‘70s, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that real bars aren’t legal here.
Other states treat adults like, well, adults. In California, they sell liquor right there in the grocery stores. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania . . . neighborhood bars and beer joints. Not restaurants. Just bars. Ed’s Place. Cliff’s Bar. Ferd’s Tavern.
Virginia? You gotta go to a state-controlled liquor store with a limited selection or to a restaurant — just to get Tanqueray or Jack Daniels.
I found a real bar here, and next time I’m in NYC, I’m going. Do yourself a favor: download the menu as a pdf. It’s great design, funny, creative as hell . . . and only part of the first page is food. All bar food and appetizers. The rest of the menu contains all their signature cocktails.
That’s the way it should be at a real bar.