By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Punk rock is alive and well in this Huntington Beach bar. Clientele consists of anyone and everyone tattooed, pierced and spiked with more than a dash of rockabilly. Johnny's famous rock & roll jukebox makes for some awesome nights such as Sinatra Sundays and White Trash Wednesdays. Inside, it's super-dark, making the small space seem even smaller (or larger, if you've had a few). Outside is the smoking area, which is just the corner of a strip-mall parking lot. Lethally strong, the drinks will put hair on your chest (Jack Daniels is half-off every Tuesday). Don't be a pansy: Have a shot or three. 17428 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach; www.myspace.com/johnnyssaloon.
Part of the HB Main Street cluster, this bar gets crammed with beach bunnies and surfers during the weekend. It's a must-stop if you go bar hopping in Huntington (there's another location in Newport Beach). The best time to go is Sunday morning, when you can hit up their astonishing bloody mary bar, if you're not too hung over from the night before. (A little hair of the dog, anyone?) 211 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5282; www.sharkeez.net.
Bacchus' Secret Cellar
The most notable trait of this cheerful little spot is the wine-tasting bar, which, thanks to a vino-preservation system, offers more than 60 unique varieties at any given time. Tastings are available in three sizes: taste, half-glass and full glass. Wine newbies can choose from 18 preselected flights, or connoisseurs can pick their own. Bacchus' calendar of events is lively, and they regularly host special happenings such as Girls Night Out and Wine & Chocolate Night, not to mention live music ranging from gypsy jazz to flamenco. 6735 Quail Hill Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 502-4600; www.bacchussecretcellar.com.
Marketing itself as an all-ages venue, this relatively new South County spot has attracted quite a number of local bands. Tucked inside a corporate office plaza, the Vault's stage room is one big square, and the kids either sit on the ground or stand awkwardly between sets. The whole operation is reminiscent of a high-school dance—probably why the average concert-goer's age is 15. But hey, the cover is less than 10 bucks. 26051 Merit Circle, Ste. 102, Laguna Hills; www.myspace.com/thevaultvenue.
The Basement Ultralounge
The only indicator that a club even exists on the corner of Linden and Broadway are the burly bouncers standing on the sidewalk. There's no sign—hell, there's not even a door, only a very steep staircase leading underground, which proves to be intimidating if you're in heels. It's just small enough to pack everyone in, but still leaves room for a decent-sized dance floor. The décor is beautiful, and everything's black and red and luxurious. Saturdays are the best night to go; the crowd is glamorous, and the DJ really knows his shit. 149 Linden Ave., Ste. B-100, Long Beach; www.basementlounge.com.
Call Sick On Friday
The first and third Thursday of the month gets venue Que Sera bumpin' and shakin'. All the pretty Long Beach artsy hipster types can be found here, dancing to special guest DJs such as the Mashed Potatos, who spin indie and electro-dance. The cover is cheap, and so are the drinks. Que Sera is dark and small, but it's a perfect setting for such a stylish night. At Que Sera, 1923 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.
Gay club Executive Suite truly offers something for everyone, no matter which way you swing. Originally overrun by lesbians, the boys eventually took over Friday nights, which is now named Boy's Room. Thursdays are Latin Night, which attracts both guys and girls, but Saturdays still belong to the ladies. Downstairs is more relaxed, with darts and pool tables, but upstairs is where the party's at, with DJs spinning hip-hop and Top 40. Eager to get everyone drunk and frisky, Executive Suite is famous for its super-strong, super-cheap cocktails. 3428 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 597-3884.
One of the diviest of dive bars, Ferns is a must-stop during your Fourth Street pub crawl. Local bands play occasionally (the majority are old-skool punk), forcing the front door to shut, so you might have to go around back to get in. Hot, tattooed bartenders serve deliciously strong cocktails—be sure to get there for Happy Hour ($2 well drinks!) every day from 4 to 7 p.m. If there are no bands that night, the jukebox plays a wide variety of gems, everything from Johnny Cash to the Damned. 1253 Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 436-6694.
Friday and Saturday nights, this restaurant turns into a swarming mix of singles ready to mingle. No cover charge helps if you're light in the wallet. Music can be either an '80s cover band or a hip-hop/Top 40-spinning DJ, depending on when you go. Large bars on either side ensure you won't go thirsty. The dance floor takes a while to fill up, and it's usually a circle of drunk college girls who get it started, followed by some sleazy guys trying freak them from behind. 6251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 596-4718.