Yes, boys and girls, it’s that time of year when the winter blues can easily set in and push spirits low. Those of you in warmer climates have the obvious advantage of sunny days to brighten things, and therefore can also ride your Harley with frequency, which in and of itself opens the world of euphoria and social interaction. The rest of us must suffer days or weeks of indoor activity, minimal sunshine, flu, cranky partners and neighbors…and staring longingly at the garaged FXLR. The best of biker camaraderie is squashed for another few months. But we can luckily still drown our sorrows, ogle pretty girls, and bloody our knuckles at the local watering hole. In essence, there is ample opportunity to drink our paycheck with friends old and new at any number of biker bars in this grand old land.
Now, those of you who haven’t spent much time in these chapels of indistinct repute may know them only as local dives where half the lightbulbs are burned out and whiskey is served from the lowest shelf. And more than a few such places certainly do exist. They may, in fact, still be fairly typical in many rural communities, but when the prices of big v-twins skyrocketed in the ’90’s, so did the “average biker’s” income. (For the moment, let’s not split hairs about what constitutes a biker.) More than a few wall street types discovered their inner rebel and the weekend warrior genre was established. This also meant more upscale bars to attract this Starbucks-type clientele. Hard Rock Cafe seemed to set the standard for what could be accomplished if you wanted to act the part of cool while still keeping cigarette butts and Skoal from staining the floors.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the need to please various personalities, and have spent more than a few nights rubbing elbows at “21” in NY and Dan Tana’s in LA. We all change costumes to fit aspect of personality, and I mix in many circles. In fact, I like that about myself; I’ve never felt compelled to fit into a specific mold, and therefore have friends who are both 1%ers and liquor moguls. Anyway, my point is that I can hang most anywhere, but when I’m on the Harley and hankering for a-shot-and-a-cold-one, point me in the direction of the nearest down and dirty dive bar. No, I don’t intentionally look for slovenly or particularly cheesy Budweiser flags leftover from last year’s cinco de mayo, but I am looking for authentic to a neighborhood or district. I like to hang where local guys who throw down the wrenches at quitting time spend their cash. Chances are they aren’t interested in phony atmosphere or microwaved chicken wings, but to know their hard-earned bucks are going into the tills of gals they like and whose names they know. If you want my business, here’s a simple formula: keep the glasses washed, the floor swept, the ice cold, the prices fair, the pool tables level, the barmaids feisty, and the attitudes in check. — Mark Mormar