Recently, I went out for drinks at what my friends had described as a “dive bar.” When I got there I was greeted with a menu of $10 drinks, plush leather seats and tastefully dim lighting. It was a lovely place, and it was definitely not a dive bar.
It's true that in major cities, skyrocketing rents have driven many legitimate dives out of business. But they do still exist. Why can't people correctly identify them? I have a two-part theory. Part one: After years of speakeasies and classy cocktail dens, the bar industry is experiencing a backlash. New bars aim to be overtly casual, and lately there's plenty of kitsch: beer-and-a-shot deals, perhaps a stuffed raccoon perched next to the $90-a-glass Pappy. Part two: Having only ever experienced fancy craft cocktail spots and Irish pubs, late-blooming millennial drinkers are classifying them as “dives.”
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I have nothing against this new breed of bar where you can get a good pint as well as a well-made Americano, but we have to stop calling them dive bars. Dart boards and mismatched chairs do not a dive make. So, I've come up with some guidelines. Here, nine ways to tell if you’re in a real dive bar.