Live rock and roll didn’t make it into bars in the US until the mid-’60s as clubs evolved from discotheques to live music venues. However, it wasn’t until the ’70s, and specifically the punk explosion that rock bars really came into their own. With the exception of the first five entries on this list, the remainder are in no particular order. The only real “rule” adhered to is that these are real bars, not big-ass clubs. A lot of these places have since closed but their reputation/legend lives on.
1. CBGB – NYC:
No question about it. The most important rock bar in America ever. If you need an explanation, there are a few hundred thousand web pages and a bunch books justifying the argument.
2. Max’s Kansas City – NYC – Predated CB’s by a decade, and only a hair less important.
3. Mabuhay Gardens – SF, CA. One of the first punk rock bars on the West Coast, the Mab ran from 1976-1988.
5. Raji’s – Los Angeles. As important to the LA scene of the ’80s and ’90s as CB’s was to New York in the ’70s and ’80s.
6. O’Kayz Corral – Madison, WI From the early ’80s until it burned down on New Year’s Day 2001, this dive was often referred to as “the CBGB’s of the Midwest.”
7. Brownie’s – Detroit. When Iggy played his return to Detroit in 1980, seven long years after the Stooges broke up, he did it at Brownie’s.
8. Continental – NYC. Like CB’s, but less bathroom graffiti and a better bar.
9. Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ. For over 20 years the only reason to willingly go to Hoboken.
10. Masquerade – Atlanta. Probably the best punk rock bar in the South for most of the ’80s and ’90s.
11. Double Down Saloon – Las Vegas. How can you question a bar whose most famous in-house concoction is called “Ass Juice.”?!
13. Al’s Bar – Los Angeles
14. The Garage -Los Angeles
15. Berkeley Square – Berkeley, CA
16. Bottom Of The Hill – SF, CA
17. Off Ramp – Seattle
18. Court Tavern – New Brunswick, NJ
19. Euclid Tavern- Cleveland OH
20. Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC
21. Tiger Mask – San Diego
22. 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis
22. Magic Stick – Detroit
23. Lounge Ax – Chicago
24. Upstairs At Nick’s – Philadelphia
25. Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ
Honorable Mentions: Brass Rail – Ft. Wayne, IN; Crocodile – Seattle; Firenze Tavern – Philadelphia; JC Dobb’s – Philadelphia; Beerland, Austin, TX; 40 Watt – Athens, GA; Antenna Club – Memphis, TN; Hi-Dive – Columbus, OH; Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA; Double Door – Chicago
The Top 10 Bars & Clubs in Vegas: Club XS, The Moon Bar, Pure, Rum Jungle, Drai’s, Hard Rock, Ghost Bar
The Top 10 Haunted Bars & Taverns: Broad Axe Tavern, One if By Land, Two if by Sea, Pirate’s House, Cafe Lefite in Exile
Top 25 Best Drinking Songs: Whiskey in the Jar, Salt of the Earth, Alabama Song, Don’t Come Home a Drinkin, Margaritaville
The New Year’s Eve Top 15 Champagnes: Castellar Cava, Domaine St Michelle, Piper Heidsieck, Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, Thorn Clarke, Taittinger, Moet and more…