BEYOND THE NEIGHBORHOOD DIVE
Passing time at the bar with friends, new and old, is a familiar activity for many American adults. But every now and then, a unique setting is in order. Whether it's a zombie theme, a one-of-a-kind beverage list, or breathtaking views, there's something that makes these bars a welcome change from the usual routine. Bring the gang to one of the most eclectic watering holes in your state.
ALABAMA: OK BICYCLE SHOP
Part bicycle shop, part bar, and all party all the time, the OK Bicycle Shop in Mobile is a hipster's paradise. Bikes hanging from the ceiling, craft brews (bottled and on tap), a Mexican fusion menu, and events such as trivia nights draw a young and hip crowd.
ALASKA: CHILKOOT CHARLIE'S
This unique establishment in Anchorage has something for everyone. Rather than one single watering hole, there are 10 distinct bars, each with its own ambiance and décor, from pool tables and live music to Berlin Wall memorabilia to a bar top made of ice.
ARIZONA: COWBOY CIAO
It's not the carefully selected craft beer or specialty cocktails that make this Scottsdale spot stand out but a wine list with bottles from more than 45 countries. The giant book of wine features more than 2,000 selections; by-the-glass and flight programs allow patrons easy access to the embarrassment of riches.
ARKANSAS: SHOTZ ON DICKSON STREET
This quirky bar in Fayetteville is known for its house specialty: shots served in ice glasses. This simple twist turns an evening into a fun and exciting activity. Patrons are encouraged to smash their "glasses" on the floor after taking the shot.
CALIFORNIA: JUMBO'S CLOWN ROOM
There are plenty of speakeasies and old-fashioned dive bars throughout the state, but Jumbo's Clown Room in Hollywood is one of a kind. Family-owned and -operated for more than 40 years, it's a clown-themed exotic dance bar serving up strong drinks in a raunchy, naughty, and somewhat creepy setting.
COLORADO: WILLIAMS AND GRAHAM
Winner of the best American cocktail bar award from the industry's annual Tales of the Cocktail conference, this intimate Denver lounge is a cut above the rest. Attention to detail and use of high-quality ingredients make for a special experience. Be prepared for a wait.
CONNECTICUT: KAWA NI
The first of its kind in Westport, this Japanese-style pub, or izakaya, serves craft cocktails and farm-to-table bites. The mix of classic Japanese ingredients and tradition with the cocktail resurgence entices patrons to try something new -- the Yuzu Mule, for example, a mix of rye, shiso-infused vermouth, yuzu juice, and ginger beer.
DELAWARE: BOTTLE AND CORK
This Dewey Beach establishment, open only seasonally, combines a full-service bar with all the entertainment essentials: a comfortable venue -- not too big and not too small -- with live music and carefully curated beverages.
Does anyone actually go looking for a circus-themed bar with scary clown décor? Sideshow in Orlando celebrates the odd and obscure, with over-the-top parties and whimsical drinks such as the Cracker Jack, which combines whiskey and caramel.
GEORGIA: BATTLE AND BREW
A gamers' paradise, this Sandy Springs spot is a place for video-game-obsessed adults to socialize. Computer-game consoles fill the geeky space, where gamers can soothe interpersonal awkwardness with draft and craft beers, cocktails, and wine.
HAWAII: LA MARIANA SAILING CLUB
One of the original tiki bars, La Mariana Sailing Club in Honolulu is as authentic as beach bars come. Tiki bar memorabilia, a leisurely pace, and drinks and food drawn from classic Hawaiian recipes recall times past.
IDAHO: CRUISERS BAR AND GRILL
Like something straight out of a movie, Cruisers is a real-life biker bar hard by the state line of Idaho. (The exact location is actually State Line Village.) Expect a formidable crowd of leather-clad bikers and their hogs outside -- and some trepidation about pulling up in a sedan. But for those who dare, it's a taste of the real deal.
ILLINOIS: BIG JOE'S
Big Joe's seems like a normal enough Chicago bar -- cold beer, sporting events on TVs, darts room, friendly locals and out-of-towners. That is, until Friday night, when turtle racing takes over. Don't miss this unusual tavern entertainment.
INDIANA: SLIPPERY NOODLE INN
The walls in the state's oldest bar enclose some serious history. This Indianapolis historic site has gone through many iterations since opening in 1850, from inn to underground railroad stop to bordello to lunch counter to today's booze, food, and blues hot spot.
IOWA: KEG STAND
Over in West Des Moines, Keg Stand offers an impressive selection of craft beers. Locals tout it as the best place around to enjoy unusual brews in a laid-back and comfortable atmosphere. The proprietors are known to host exuberant parties on holidays or anytime they find an excuse.
KANSAS: FREE STATE BREWING COMPANY
One of the best places in Lawrence to kick back with a cold one is the Free State Brewing Company, the first legal brewery in the state in more than 100 years when the doors opened in 1989. It's the only spot in the area to feature inventive and local craft brews -- all at inexpensive prices and served up with easygoing flair.
KENTUCKY: HAYMARKET WHISKEY BAR AND BOTTLE SHOP
Steeped in tradition, this Louisville bar takes its name from the market that occupied the space in the late 19th century. It now serves as a veritable library of American whiskeys and Kentucky bourbons. The bar is part of the Urban Bourbon Trail and helps educate patrons about the history and traditions behind this distilled beverage.
LOUISIANA: THE CAROUSEL BAR AND LOUNGE
The revolving carousel setting has made this bar in the Monteleone Hotel an American classic. Enjoy craft cocktails, including the iconic Sazerac, and feel transported into one of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's reports from New Orleans.
MAINE: NOVARE RES BIER CAFE
There are plenty of bars that offer a lot of beers, but few garner as much attention as Portland's Novare Res, which is featured by experts and national publications time and again. It searches for unusual craft beers from Europe and the United States, and serves them fresh on draught and in the bottle.
MARYLAND: BIRDS OF A FEATHER
A Scotch lover's paradise, this cozy Baltimore bar is home to an impressive selection of precisely organized whiskeys. Every high-end detail is spot on, from large comfortable leather chairs to dim lighting. Birds of a Feather is local drinkers' choice for a special occasion or indulgent night out.
MASSACHUSETTS: ALIBI BAR AND LOUNGE
Appropriately housed in what was once the drunk tank of an old jail, this Boston bar in Beacon Hill has a maximum security feel to it. The décor features iron bars and the original brick walls along with framed celebrity mug shots. A haunting air about the place makes it a fun destination for late-night cocktails.
MICHIGAN: CASS CAFE
Part art museum and gallery, part bar, Cass Cafe is a cultural oasis in one of the hippest areas in a resurgent Detroit. Artists and intellectuals of various ilks flock to the airy space, imbibe a bit (including beer from Motor City Brewery), and take in the work of up-and-coming locals.
MINNESOTA: DONNY DIRK'S ZOMBIE DEN
Do you love zombies and drinking? So does Donny Dirk's, a theme cocktail lounge and bar in Minneapolis that claims to offer temporary refuge for big brains that would otherwise tempt the nearby zombie population. Even pre-zombie apocalypse, Donny's is a fantastical experience.
MISSISSIPPI: THE APOTHECARY AT BRENT'S DRUGS
As a nod to the origins of alcoholic elixirs, fabled to cure any ailment, the Apothecary was added on to Brent's Drugs, an old-school soda shop in Jackson. The Prohibition-era-themed bar offers a menu complete with "prescriptions," classics, and a "temperance" menu featuring non-alcoholic indulgences.
MISSOURI: VENICE CAFE
If you find yourself in St. Louis and would prefer to be elsewhere -- beachside California, say -- head over to Venice Cafe. This fun alternative to the average beer-and-shot shacks is decked out in funky colors and artworks and showcases indie bands and other live performances.
MONTANA: THE OLD SALOON
Established in 1902, this iconic bar in Emigrant still boasts décor and artifacts reminiscent of simpler times. Gold scales and a wood-burning stove contribute to the authenticity, affirmed by friendly service and good (enough) drinks.
NEBRASKA: THE OTHER ROOM
There's no sign out front of this Lincoln speakeasy, but you'll know it's open by the green light. A few knocks on the unmarked door get partrons in to the Prohibition-themed bar. The high-quality drinks earned the Other Room a nomination for a James Beard Award in 2015.
NEVADA: DOUBLE DOWN SALOON
A Las Vegas dive bar that bills itself as “a clubhouse for the lunatic fringe,” Double Down Saloon takes pride in its anti-tourist ambiance, eclectic clientele, badass attitude, psychedelic décor, and round-the-clock operation. Try the bacon martini, if you dare.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: AREA 23
This quirky bar in Concord combines the simple pleasures of a neighborhood pub with the interests of the owners. Area 23 is a place where people come to trade skills -- impromptu language lessons, for example -- among dart tournaments and trivia nights. The clubhouse vibe makes it easy to socialize.
NEW JERSEY: MARTELL'S TIKI BAR
Escape the grit of the typical Jersey Shore bar at this island-themed drinking establishment in Point Pleasant Beach. Drinks are fruity and strong, scantily clad is the dress code of choice, and having fun is not optional.
NEW MEXICO: LU LU'S CHINESE CUISINE AND BAR
Truly one of a kind, this Chinese restaurant boasts an after-hours club in the back room on Saturdays. With a mostly Latin crowd, the music is geared toward sexy cumbia and ranchera. Anyone keen for a change of pace from the usual weekend dive will find this cultural fusion bar a real adventure.
NEW YORK: PLANET ROSE
Not just another karaoke bar, this East Village gem in New York City is a riot of zebra print and disco lights. The beers are cheap and basic, the songbooks are full of oldies and classics, and the owners are committed to remembering patrons' names and favorites.
NORTH CAROLINA: THE FAT PELICAN
An eclectic mix of southern hospitality, rustic antique furniture, and barflies who look as though they've been hanging around for decades give this dive bar its unique character. Located on the island of Carolina Beach, this laid-back joint is famous for a walk-in fridge stocked with hundreds of beers that patrons carry out to drink.
NORTH DAKOTA: WÜRST BIER HALL
A lively beer hall brings German culture to Fargo. The main attraction here is "das boot," a giant glass boot full of beer with specific drinking rules, such as not letting das boot touch the table before it's empty. With free-flowing boot-fuls of beer and classic German pub fare, Würst Bier Hall is a hearty good time.
OHIO: EDGEWATER CAFE
After shutting its doors in 1996, the Edgewater Cafe in Cleveland reopened, same décor and all, in 2014. The full-service bar offers good drinks and food, but the real experience is the subtle yet perceptible effect of stepping into a time capsule from 20 years ago.
This humble neighborhood bar in Oklahoma City has become something of a cult classic thanks to its signature drink: Edna's Original Lunchbox. Served in a frosty glass, the combination of beer, orange juice, and amaretto has attracted national attention for its surprisingly refreshing and addicting taste.
This joint is sure to delight patrons young and old with its '80s and '90s dance club theme. Colorful spandex, dance parties, and drinks such as the Pretty in Pink-Tini and Air Jordan are blasts from the past in Portland.
PENNSYLVANIA: CHURCH BREW WORKS
More ironic than the thought of beer-making innovations wrought by religious monks is this renovated Catholic church turned brewpub in Pittsburgh. The specialty craft brews made onsite have kitschy names such as Pipe Organ Pale Ale and Celestial Gold.
RHODE ISLAND: OGIES TRAILER PARK
Half trailer and half tiki bar, this Providence mainstay with a retro aesthetic gives off a movie-set vibe. Groove to seasonal cocktails, an expansive beer list, and a menu of comfort foods.
SOUTH CAROLINA: SURF BAR
Searching for an authentic, laid-back beach bar with surfer vibes? It doesn't get better than Surf Bar in Folly Beach. The effortless it's-always-summer-vacation-in-here atmosphere, good drinks, and regular live music keep daily stresses at bay.
SOUTH DAKOTA: THE ICE HOUSE
The Ice House has been serving the community of Yankton since 1928. Founded by the current owner's great-grandfather as an ice company, the beers here are always ice-cold, cheap, and domestic. Local tradition encourages a bit of rowdiness, as it's customary to smash empty bottles beneath the old loading dock.
TENNESSEE: GREENHOUSE BAR
Gardeners and plant lovers will feel right at home in this Nashville lounge. The bar is situated inside a Nashville greenhouse, providing an unexpectedly sleek and comfortable setting. The sprawling bar area stays open daily until 3 a.m., bringing new meaning to the term "garden party."
TEXAS: THE PASTRY WAR
Heralded as a mecca of mezcal this side of the border, the extensive selection of agave spirits in this Houston mezcaleria hails from small distilleries in Mexico. Drinking here is a crash course in this traditional distilled beverage.
UTAH: CAMPFIRE LOUNGE
The Campfire Lounge in Salt Lake City is all about down-home comfort and tradition. The specialty here is the "'hobo dinner," a hodgepodge of protein and vegetables cooked in a tinfoil wad over a campfire. It's an ideal meal to soak up the large selection of whiskeys, cocktails, and beer.
VERMONT: WHETSTONE STATION
Beloved for their natural beauty, Vermont's landscapes are easy to appreciate from this Brattleboro brewery, beer garden, and restaurant. The waterfront setting offers picturesque views and a rotating selection of house brews. Brewery tours are available.
VIRGINIA: NEW YORK DELI
Can't decide between bagel and lox and a craft beer? No need if you happen to be in Richmond. New York Deli pays homage to classic Big Apple deli staples such as Reuben and club sandwiches and an ever-changing selection of brews in bottles and on tap.
WASHINGTON: UNICORN AND NARWHAL
These twin bars in Seattle are two of the most whimsical settings in which to enjoy a drink. Each is decked out with its own brand of colorful, trippy, circus-like décor. Try a cocktail, shot, or bottled beer, then stroll over to the arcade for a few quick games.
WEST VIRGINIA: TRACTOR BAR
Walk into this farm-machinery dealership turned neighborhood bar in Mount Nebo and knock back a drink or two. What started out as a joke more than 20 years ago has turned into an iconic local watering hole. Still filled with plenty of farm machinery, the rural atmosphere is for real.
WISCONSIN: SAFE HOUSE
This spy-themed Milwaukee bar is a welcoming safe house for anyone seeking a good time. The espionage details are taken seriously, as patrons need a secret code to enter. Without the password, would-be patrons must complete a mission assigned by the doorman before getting in. A little detective work leads to Safe House.
WYOMING: MILLION DOLLAR COWBOY BAR
This classic Americana bar in Jackson Hole is chock-full of Wild West memorabilia. If the décor isn't enough to keep you entertained for hours, there's a full-service bar, live music, and authentic Western dancing. Be sure to wear your cowboy boots.