By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I had just broken up with my boyfriend—again—and I was swimming in that quiet desperation that comes when your teeth are grinding and it's a Wednesday night and your best friend has moved to the Inland Empire and you don't have drop-in privileges anywhere else and you realize with a sickening thud that you can not think of a single place to go have a brooding drink where the bartender will be flirty and soothing and hot and make everything better for the space of a $7 cocktail or four. How could this be? How could I not think of a single tavern/restaurant/pub/dive—in a city of half a million people—with a strong, tall, lantern-jawed barkeep to watch me come unhinged? Not undressed. Unhinged.
Okay, maybe undressed.
Obviously I'd been unsingle too long. Good thing that had changed. Again.
But this not being able to find a hot bartender, well, that wouldn't do. Not for me. Not for you. Not for any of those fine wheelchair-bound codgers who look to this page for their cheap vicarious thrills. It's untenable for us all, and it was time for a change. So we went on an odyssey from South County to North, popping into Japanese karaoke restaurants and the St. Regis(where the bartender was thisclose to making the list, except that his butt managed to be both wide and flat, looking like it was wearing a bulletproof butt vest). We traveled from gay bars with gold lamť curtains to Newport snobberias. We had certain standards: hot. Nice. Flirty. No frigid misses or vacuous implanted sluts. Charm and urbanity behind a bottle—you know, the reason you'll spend $18 (plus tip) on a sixer of Bud. Here are our top five, with some bonuses thrown in.