Best bars of 2011

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The festive season is upon us, and of course, that means a chance to perhaps take a drink or two to celebrate the holiday season. But what about the rest of the year, when you can’t face eggnog or a glass of sherry with grandma?

Here’s our quick guide to the best places we’ve partook over the last year and if you’re local, they’re always worth a visit. And a word of warning. Leave your conference badge behind and skip the pleated Dockers.

#1: Barefoot Bobs, Hull, MA

Those that head to Boston often are missing a trick. Just around the bay, or indeed, a short hop on a ferry from Logan airport, is Hull. On the peninsula, it’s powered by two wind turbines and provides something you don’t get too often – real, down home joy. Hull is a little blue collar, a little run down and it’s fantastic – particularly if you’re looking for a break away from the high-rises and hustle and bustle of Boston. Barefoot Bob’s is on the beach front, you sit outside and it’s glorious if the sun is shining. I was also introduced to the delights of the Stuffed Quahog. Don’t ask, just order it.

Recommended order: A shot of DEVELOP3D’s rum of choice, Kraken, in a Dark & Stormy and a Quahog. You’ll rub your belly in delight. Then when you stand up, your legs won’t work properly. As it should be on a sunny afternoon.
Web: http://www.barefootbobshull.com/
Location: http://g.co/maps/g6gq7

#2: Frankie’s Tiki Room, 1712 West Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas

Vegas is a curse for those on the software user conference circuit. Stale, over oxygenated air, the constant bing bing of the slot machines and probably more walking than you could ever do in a single building complex on earth. Frankly, it’s hellish. So why not escape for an hour or two with some good company, a stiff drink and a few bucks in a jukebox?

Frankie’s is off strip, about 10 bucks in a cab, but it’s worth it. Like the best watering holes on the planet, it looks proper shady from the outside, but inside you’ll find a jukebox crammed with surf rock and bizarre covers, a bartender that knows his mixology, and drinks that are rated in strength using a skull-based system – and typically blue. What’s not to love?

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Recommended order: Tiki Bandit (and get it in the Tiki jars – $20 and you get to take it home)
Web: www.frankiestikiroom.com
Location: http://g.co/maps/gtqs8

#3: The Skellig, Waltham, MA

The Boston area isn’t much of a stranger to the Irish themed boozer, but this place is more authentic than many. There’s no tricolor hanging over the bar, the drinks are strong, there’s a range of porters and other beers on tap and the barman is generous with the Jamiesons. Add in a jam session mid-week with a selection of blues guitarists and an Andy Warhol look-a-like, a couple of dear friends and you’ve got a slice of heaven. Add into that, a conversation with the next mayor of Waltham outside and you’ve got solid gold.

Recommended order: Black & Tan and a grilled cheese sandwich from the kid’s menu. Bargain and tasty as hell (Thanks for the tip, Erin)
Web: www.theskellig.com
Location: http://g.co/maps/pa7r5

#4: Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe off Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Probably more berets and moustache combos that I’ve seen anywhere else in the world since I last went to a mime convention, but this place is genius. Tucked away up an alleyway, it’s full of local types, all discussing all manner of weird shit. The interior is bad ass, the music isn’t bad and the drinks are healthy once you drop the barman a nice tip (and everyone does that, right?). Perfect. But couldn’t find it again if I tried. But there’s a sign out the front with an XII. I know. I have a photo of it. Also note: Cash only. No cards.

Recommended order: Not a clue. Maybe post a question about it on www.solidsmack.com?
Web: nope – they’re too cool for school and the Internet
Location: http://g.co/maps/z9xbs

#5: Alibis Sports & Spirits, 1141 East Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX

This place looks like someone’s front room that’s been turned into a bar, the clientele is eclectic to say the least and seems to change on a minute by minute basis, but its a homely place away from the faux authenticism of the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The jukebox is one of those marvellous internet connected affairs where an extra buck will let you put a noisey track from the Sleigh Bells ahead of some buffoon’s R Kelly-esque selection. Additional bonus is a really sketchy electronic dartboard.

Recommended Order: Something involving Maker’s Mark… Probably… Straight. No chase. It’s that kind of joint.
Web: Nope
Location: http://g.co/maps/byt75