The first problem I had with this drinking man’s guide was to get your macro-picture, to generate a universe of tips on joints. I know a lot of people who should have been able to help me with this—bar owners and bartenders and inveterate drunks—but for some reason the old memory retrieval system doesn’t work too well when it comes to bars. Barely three calls into my survey, I noticed that I was getting a lot of “Oh, yeah, there’s this place right outside Rockport… Damn, what was the name of it?” When they did remember, it was invariably a place I already knew about, one that was closed, or one that I knew didn’t fit my criteria.
I fretted over this for a while, and then one evening, deep in the throes of a self-pitying stupor, the answer suddenly dawned on me. Forget the bartenders and bar owners. Forget the inveterate drunks. You want the real skinny on bars? Go to the real authority. So I staggered over to the nearest pay phone and called my favorite state senator.
It worked like a charm. In 24 hours I had more tips than I could handle, not to mention a generous offer of assistance anytime I needed a drinking buddy. “Serving my constituents is what I’m all about,” he said. “This is off the record, isn’t it?”
Bars and objectivity have never gone well together. I’ve listed in no particular order the places I liked and the places I could remember. The criteria for what I call a bar bar are fundamental: no ferns and no froufrou, an adequate degree of darkness, stiff