Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America

Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America

by Clint Lanier, Derek Hembree


$22.99 View All Available Formats & Editions

This item is currently not eligible for coupon offers.

  • Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on November 1, 2018


Bucket List Bars: Historic Saloons, Pubs, and Dives of America by Clint Lanier, Derek Hembree

Find your way to 170 of the most historic saloons, pubs, and dives of America. These are the watering holes that shaped our nation while quenching our thirst. These are the favorite spots of our Founding Fathers, the places where well-known celebrities relax, and the joints that most wouldn't walk into without a bodyguard. For the explorer, the history buff, and the drinker alike, Bucket List Bars will get you off the beaten track and take you to the heart of a city to find its oldest bars! Want to navigate to the oldest Irish pub in New York City? Or maybe sip a martini in an authentic Chicago speakeasy? How about a beer at a haunted saloon outside of Las Vegas? This guidebook will help you find these places and more!

And while you can find a cocktail or cold beer at any of these watering holes, you'll also find unique, odd, and exciting destinations throughout the United States. You'll leave with a new perspective of how this country was built, the kinds of people who built it, and what they went through.

For each bar readers get a complete description of what to expect, directions on how to find the place, and insider's tips so you won't stand out like a tourist. You'll learn what to order, when to go, and what to look out for when you get there. For our featured bars, you'll also get the entire history of the place taken directly from the owners and bartenders, a full description of what to expect when you go today, and even instant access to our online documentaries made for each bar so you'll know before going exactly what the place looks like. Plus, you'll get ideas for off the beaten path destinations and distractions to explore after you've finished your glass.

Bucket List Bars is the definitive guide to the historic saloons, pubs, and dives of America.

Featuring the historic bars of:


Atlantic City







El Paso


Las Vegas

Los Angeles

Minneapolis-Saint Paul


Newport and Providence

New Orleans

New York City



San Antonio

San Diego

San Francisco



Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692182741
Publisher: AO Media LLC
Publication date: 11/01/2018
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Fascinated by the hidden history of bars, Clint Lanier has traveled the world to find out-of-the-way watering holes with great stories to tell. From the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta, to the cantinas of Mexico, he's always on the lookout for the next saloon, tavern, or dive that brings a neighborhood or a whole city together. When not on the road, he is writes about booze and teaches at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

As a military brat, Derek Hembree began traveling and exploring the world at a very young age. A bartender during his college years and an adventurer at heart, he is intrigued by historic bars, their stories, the art of mixology, and sharing it all with the world. Along with traveling and bars, Derek is passionate about finding the perfect wave, the freshest powder, and exploring the world on two wheels.

Read an Excerpt




Emerald Book Company

Copyright © 2013Media LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-937110-43-7




It's time to come clean about bars and traveling. The combination typically just doesn't work. Most of the time you're stuck in the hotel even after getting through with the business of the day. In a new city you might wander down to the lounge on the ground floor to see what's available.

You scan the crowd and see a pretty homogenous group of people just like yourself. Eventually you resign yourself to stay there and take a seat at the bar to watch some random sports or news channel with the sound turned down, eating below average but way-overpriced food, and facing a three-tap beer selection.

No more. This book is for the traveler who wants to find the interesting, hidden and out-of-the-way locales to unwind in after a day of meetings or classes.

Or, this book is simply for the traveler that appreciates the institutions that really built this country.

In each location, Bucket List Bars™ brings you the most famous, infamous or historic and culturally significant watering holes you can find. These are the places you'll be talking about for weeks after you visit. Have fun. Be safe.


We're often asked what a Bucket List Bar™ really is. Unfortunately, the explanation isn't that simple. Perhaps the most basic definition is to say that these are the places around the country and around the world you want to have a drink in before you die.

But Bucket List Bars™ are more than just watering holes. They're not places you go to just drink. They're places you go to experience. These are places that have a history. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, but it's always worthy of time and investigation.

Bucket List Bars™ have character. No two are alike and all are original. They define their own style and include décor and atmosphere often imitated but never, ever duplicated.

These aren't chain places. They might be owned by a corporation, and they might not be the only one in a portfolio of bars, but they're not places exploited, copied and then shared with the world in cut-rate versions across the continent.

Bucket List Bars™ have no defining look. Some are elegant while some, frankly, smell like last week's stale beer. Some serve cocktails that take ten minutes to make while others serve one kind of beer and nothing else.

They could have mismatched furniture or priceless artwork, gleaming brass or faded wood, crystal and porcelain, or red Solo cups.

But all of these differences—every single one—are what makes these Bucket List Bars™.

If they were people they wouldn't be Brad Pitts or Kim Kardashians, they'd be James Browns and Jack Kerouacs. They'd be people who made their own way—people who didn't try to fit in—but simply did what they did until the world took notice and then put them on their deserving pedestals.

Bucket List Bars™ are innocent in that they didn't set out to be Bucket List Bars™. They simply set out to provide the basic necessities—companionship, food, drink and entertainment— to society. At some point the world took notice and now we're putting them on their deserved pedestal.


Let's be honest; there are a lot of bars out there. Many are good and worth a stop-in for a drink. However, we're confident that the bars we present are the best to visit in any given area.

We can be that confident because of the research we put into finding them. We first start with the source. We tap our social media networks and then ask for recommendations. We scour the internet and look at reviews, read the history and local accounts, newspaper articles, biographies and visitor records.

But let's be even more honest; anyone can do that stuff. Many books and articles do—they rely on secondary sources for their information and recommendations.

We take it a step further and visit. Proof of this are the documentaries we make of every single one of the places we include.

We interview the owners, the bartenders, the customers and then give you that history in the videos. If they have a signature drink, we ask them to make it so you can see whether or not it's worth trying (they usually are).

And it's at this stage we determine if a place is a Bucket List Bar™ or not. This is the point when we figure out really quickly if this place is worthy of your visit or not. If not—if it turns out that even after our research, our visit, and interviews we determine the bar to be a loser—we don't bother telling you about it. There are a handful of bars we didn't include in this book just for that reason.

But those we do include are vetted and tried and definitely worthy of you. These places have a great history, a notorious past, and sometimes a dubious present.


This book presents the Bucket List Bars™ from 12 regions around the United States. The focus is on the historic bars from these regions.

Historic in the truest sense has nothing to do with age— though we did track down the oldest two bars in the nation. When something is historic it is significant to the culture and society around it at the time and into the future.

There have been thousands of bars and saloons in the United States from its founding until now. Only a handful survived, but they are not all equally historic. True, they're all old and significant in terms of architecture or simply in their atmosphere, but not all saw a gunfight. Not all were used to imprison a famous British spy during the Revolutionary War. Not all have become the quintessential dive bar or Old West Saloon.

In short, not every old bar is historic.

And in fact, not all of the bars in this book are really that old. We present bars from the 1960s and 1950s. Does that make them less historic?

When you read about them, and definitely when you visit them, you'll understand.

The value of these places is in what they present to the people who decide to have a drink in them. They reflect the history of a region, of a people, of an event or of a way of life that's now long gone. Or, as in the case of the most recent bar—Mother's Nightclub opened in 1968—they represent the start of something. In Mother's case it's the start of whole movements in music and everything that was inspired by those movements.

And this list isn't complete. Here we present 40 of the most historic and worth-your-time watering holes from only 12 places around the country. There are many more we still need to discover and bring to you, and that will happen soon.

Until then, use this book to find the hidden treasures in the cities you probably already visit quite frequently. Go have a drink (or a few) in these places, and let them know you found out about them in this book.


This book is divided into 12 major regions in the United States. We try to give you not only the Bucket List Bars™ from these regions, but also other notable bars to try. These bars didn't make it into this book simply because they lacked that extra something to make it on your bucket list, but they're in the area and if you have the time you should still check them out.

At the end of each bar we review we also provide some nearby distractions that you really should visit if you're in the area. Many of the distractions have some kind of connection to the bar itself, so it's worth your while to see them.

We also provide the name and phone number of local taxi and ride companies. Please use these if you decide to make the trip into a pub crawl. Some of the bars we review are near enough that walking might be possible, but often they're on different sides of a region. Please don't drink and then drive.

Lastly we include QR codes for each destination. The QR codes when scanned with a smart phone will take you directly to our YouTube-hosted documentary about the bar (below each QR code is the direct link address for those without smart phones). Th e documentaries help to put each bar in context, show you what they look like inside and out, and provide a much more in-depth and colorful history of the bars than a simple guide could do.

For those bars that have some type of signature drink, we've also included QR codes that link to videos of the bartenders mixing these drinks. Th ese are the drinks we tried and loved when we were there, and are our recommendation for trying when you visit.



In this book we're covering 40 of the most historic bars in the United States spread over 12 different regions—from New England to San Francisco with plenty of stops in between. Not all bars are created equal, however: they are all different, not only in their personalities but also in their types. There are at least five different bar types we'll talk about over and over: Taverns/Pubs, Saloons, Speakeasies, Dives, and Tiki Bars. Here we'll try to define them in their historical context.


In our modern vernacular the terms, "Tavern" and "Pub" have come to mean the same things. But it wasn't always the case.

Pubs, or public houses, and taverns can trace their history all the way back to the Roman Empire. During the Empire's four-century control of Britain it created a vast and extensive network of roads throughout Britain and Europe. Along these roads were alehouses, taverns, and inns that offered travelers a place to stop for a drink, food, supplies, or a place to sleep. Alehouses of the time were usually ordinary dwellings where the householder would serve home-brewed ale or beer, and if lodging was offered it was commonly a simple spot on the floor or a loft in a barn. A tavern on the other hand typically served only wine, and since wine was more expensive at the time taverns catered to the upper class. Another major difference was that taverns were limited to towns whereas alehouses could be opened in just about any dwelling where the occupant wanted to sell their home brew and possibly offer travelers a place to stay.

After the Roman Empire collapsed and during the 18th century the term alehouse was gradually replaced by the term public house, as alehouses were growing in size and grandeur. In 1810 we see the first purpose-built public houses erected in London, England and quickly expanding to towns across the country and eventually the world. These establishments were usually the focal point of a community and there was a time in some countries (like Holland, for example) when towns would not officially be recognized as such unless they had a pub and/ or a tavern. The pub had become a place where the common public could grab a meal or a drink, talk of local, national and world news, do business and often times find some form of entertainment.

Similar to public houses taverns began to evolve after the collapse of the Roman Empire. In 18th century England we see many of them actually transformed into coffee houses catering to the wealthy while others turned into extravagant inns, and still others remained taverns. In the Colonial US they were an important part of the community and were often supervised by county officials. These establishments were eventually licensed to house guests, turning them into inns, and were the earliest forms of what we know today as hotels. They were an essential part of life for travelers who relied on them for shelter for themselves and their horses, and as a place to find food and entertainment. Plus, they acted as a town's post office and most importantly, a place to enjoy an alcoholic beverage.

Today for the most part a pub and a tavern are the same, though very different from a lounge, a dive bar, club, or Tiki bar. They usually have significant European influence in their décor, building, food menu and in their founding history. Their drink menu can vary vastly with beer and whiskey almost always the cornerstone of the bar. Though they were founded during the rule of the Roman Empire they still survive today as the foundation for almost any drinking establishment or hotel you find yourself in.


Saloons are about as American as apple pie.

When you think of a saloon the first thing that probably pops into your head is a character like Josey Wales walking into an old dusty bar with swinging doors, a piano player pelting out an old tune, gambling off to the side, ladies of the night advertising their wares and an old barman cleaning a glass behind the bar. In all truthfulness only some of what we called saloons would have been quite so extravagant.

One of the earliest saloons opened in Brown's Hole, Wyoming, in 1822 to serve fur trappers and traders. Geographically close to Wyoming's border with Utah and Colorado, this establishment was the first of thousands of similar places to be dubbed saloons during America's expansion west. Shortly after the first saloon opened its doors more started popping up just about anywhere and everywhere.

Built out of tents, wagons, sod houses, ship hulls, cut into the side of hills, built from the ground up, shady and extravagant, they were built in almost every small town, city or cross roads that dotted the western frontier. But no matter how, where or what they were constructed of they all served the same purpose: a place for cowboys and soldiers to spend their off hours, where a lonesome traveler could find conversation or companionship, and even where a businessman could strike a deal.

Though there were many different types and differing levels of luxury in the various saloons of the country, the alcohols they served were often limited. Beer was not uncommon, but without pasteurization and refrigeration its quality would have been questionable at best. Some places served Cactus Tea or Cactus Wine, which was made from a mixture of peyote and tequila (we wonder what kind of buzz that brought on). But at the forefront of alcohol served in saloons was whiskey. Oftentimes made from raw alcohol, burnt sugar, and chewing tobacco, it was called numerous names like Tarantula Juice, Red Eye, and Coffin Varnish. Most places also served house rotgut that was often 100 proof and cut with turpentine, ammonia, gunpowder or some kind of spice, like cayenne.

Legend has it that if an unknown or foreign patron entered a saloon and ordered a strange or "fruity" cocktail, or if he was to stand around and only sip his drink, bar patrons would sometimes take it upon themselves to force the stranger to drink a fifth of rotgut for his own good.

Saloons today are for the most part a thing of the past. Most places that still call themselves saloons are either still open or reopened from the days of the old west, like the Crystal Palace in Tombstone, or are opened in the spirit of the traditional saloon, like Broken Spoke in Sturgis, South Dakota, and in Daytona, Florida. Regardless of when they were built, a saloon today is used in much the same manner as a saloon of yesterday. They exist for the common good of the public as places to find a conversation, blow off some steam, catch a game, meet some new friends, grab a bite to eat, or simply spend some time contemplating the meaning of life.


Many believe that speakeasies came about during the notorious period known as Prohibition. And while that is when these establishments were in their heyday, they actually came into existence long before the 1920 start of Prohibition.

The term speakeasy refers to an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. There are many legends as to how the term came about but one of the most commonly told is the story of Kate Hester. Kate owned a bar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which she operated as a legal establishment until 1888 when the state of Pennsylvania raised the price of bar licenses from $50 to $500 dollars. Kate refused to pay a 1000% increase and instead took her bar underground. She would tell her patrons to "speakeasy boys" when they became too loud so as not to attract the attention of law enforcement officials.

The term has become synonymous with establishments that sold alcohol during the United States' experiment with Prohibition from 1920-33. From notorious gangsters like Al Capone to the everyday working man and woman, speakeasies served as a reprieve from the oppression of the Noble Experiment. They most commonly served hard alcohol, especially gin due to its ease of distillation, and beer was an uncommon luxury. When Prohibition was repealed with the 21st Amendment, often these very same establishments turned into legal neighborhood bars or returned to being the bars they were before the onset of Prohibition.

When we refer to speakeasies in this book we are referring to places like The Green Mill in Chicago and The Townhouse in Venice Beach, California that were actually speakeasies during Prohibition. Places like these are still in operation today and still retain that original ambiance. Walking into them will often give you the feeling of being transported to another time period. You'd almost expect Al Capone to walk in any minute and sit down with you for a drink or two.


Excerpted from BUCKET LIST BARS by CLINT LANIER. Copyright © 2013 by Media LLC. Excerpted by permission of Emerald Book Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Get to Know a City and its History

The Bars of Bucket List Bars

Albuquerque, NM

Capitol Bar Socorro, NM

The Mine Shaft Tavern, Madrid, NM

Saloon, Bernalillo, NM

Albuquerque’s Historic Bars

Atlantic City, NJ

Knife and Fork Inn

The Irish Pub

Atlantic City’s Historic Bars

Austin, TX

Scholz Garten

Historic Scoot Inn

The Tavern

Austin’s Historic Bars

Baltimore, MD

The Horse You Came In On

Waterfront Hotel

Baltimore’s Historic Bars

Boston, MA

Warren Tavern, Charlestown, MA

Boston's Historic Bars

Chicago, IL

The Green Mill

Simon's Tavern

Original Mother's

The Billy Goat Tavern

Green Door Tavern

Hala Kahiki

Chicago's Historic Bars

Denver, CO

My Brother's Bar

El Chapultepec

Buckhorn Exchange

Denver's Historic Bars

Detroit, MI

Nancy Whiskey

Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill

2 Way Inn

Detroit’s Historic Bars

El Paso, TX

Rosa's Cantina

World Famous Kentucky Club, Juarez, MX

Corn Exchange at La Posta De Mesilla, Mesilla, NM

El Patio, Mesilla, NM

El Paso's Historic Bars

Honolulu, HI

Smith’s Union Bar

Tropics Bar & Grill

Honolulu’s Historic Bars

Las Vegas, NV

Atomic Liquors

Hard Hat Lounge

Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings, NV

Las Vegas’ Historic Bars

Los Angeles, CA

Frolic Room, Hollywood, CA

Townhouse (Del Monte Speakeasy), Venice, CA

Tonga Hut, North Hollywood, CA

Cole's P.E. Buffet, Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles’ Historic Bars

Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MI

Neumann’s Bar, North Saint Paul, MI

The Spot Bar, Saint Paul, MI

Minneapolis-Saint Paul’s Historic Bars

Milwaukee, WI

The Uptowner

Milwaukee’s Historic Bars

Newport and Providence, RI

White Horse Tavern, Newport, RI

Newport & Providence’s Historic Bars

New Orleans, LA


Henry’s Uptown Bar

Arnaud’s French 75 Bar

Pat O’Brien’s

Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge

New Orlean’s Historic Bars

New York, NY

McSorley's Old Ale House

Sam Fraunces Tavern

Old Town Bar

Ear Inn

The Old ′76 House, Tappan, NY

New York’s Historic Bars

Philadelphia, PA

The City Tavern

McGillin’s Old Ale House

Philadelphia’s Historic Bars

Portland, OR

Kelly’s Olympian Bar

Huber’s Café

Alibi Tiki Lounge

Portland’s Historic Bars

San Antonio, TX

The Esquire Tavern

The Menger Bar

San Antonio’s Historic Bars

San Diego, CA

The Waterfront

Aero Club Bar

Tivoli Bar

San Diego’s Historic Bars

San Francisco, CA

Elixir Saloon

Heinold’s First And Last Chance, Oakland, CA

San Francisco’s Historic Bars

Seattle, WA

Central Saloon

Merchant Café

Seattle’s Historic Bars

Tucson, AZ

The Buffet Bar

Kon Tiki

The Tap Room

The Crystal Palace, Tombstone, AZ

Tucson's Historic Bars

Washington, D.C.

Old Ebbit Grill

Gadsby’s Tavern, Alexandria, VA

Washington D.C.’s

Historic Bars


Connect with us!

About the Authors