Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
With more than 40 bars serving alcohol and a downtown that houses restaurants open until the wee hours of the morning specifically to cater to the drunks who need food in their bellies before slogging home, Fullerton has a romping-stomping after-dark scene that is ripe for the guzzling. But its not just about the booze: A walk through downtown Fullerton is comparable to turning the dial on your car radio. Home to the jazz club Steamers, rock & roll venues such as Slide Bar, and such loud pop pushers as Rockin Taco, Fullerton has a little taste of everything you can jam to. Whether youre a straight-laced conservative or a rock-hard emo warrior, make it a point to drink this city inwhile you can. Because of such trifles as increased crime and congestion, this drunken paradise will get a lot less fun, starting next year. In June, the city council voted to establish a 45-day urgency moratorium on ABC permits, which allows for a ban of happy hour at bars and restricts alcohol-sale times to between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays and till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It is the end of an era, people, so drink up before it dries upand try not to throw up on your way out.
Lets just sayand why not?that as younger person, you were in a seven-piece rock band: two guitars, bass, drums, vocals and a horn line, all amplified, all played at high volume. After being kicked out of every members garage by either an angry mother, or a cop at the behest of an angry neighbor, you ended up finding a home in the garage of your drummer, where the seven of you, gear included, packed into a cluttered, cold, wet space that you shared with a washer and dryer, as well as a broken-down, rusted-out 1973 Buick. Oh, how you pined for a decent practice space. Too bad you didnt know about Gemini Studios. Its a 24-hour lockoutmusician lingo for a building where you can practice whenever the hell you want toowned and operated by Cal State Fullerton grad Luke Allen. Musicians will need to jump through the usual rental hoopscontract, security deposit, basic rules and regsbut once the business stuff is out of the way, its time to get down to the business of rockin out! Three studio sizes are available: 200 square feet will cost you $595 per month (just 85 bucks apiece, if theres seven of you!), 150 square feet is $525, and 100 will cost you $445all with AC, the freedom to decorate, insurance, free DSL and, most important, 24-hour access. Look, practicing in a leaky garage sucks, especially when it smells like laundry and motor oil. Get some money together and go legit.
Ah, the all-ages venue. You love it when youre younger, ecstatically grateful to have a place where you are able to witness your favorites perform live-and-in-person . . . or just to have a place where you dont feel too young. But as you grow older, you start hating the very thought of itkids milling about, the idea of even more people crowding up a show for your band (you were totally listening to them, like, way back when they only played garages and basements and had a self-recorded, three-song demo) and, the absolute worst, no alcohol. Well, theres a happy medium. Sort of. Theres still no booze involved, but at least its a place you can still snoot about to your friends. You know how it goes: You always feel cooler knowing about a place not many others do. Santa Anas the Clinic is a venue where mostly local punk bands play. Its No. 1 agenda is supporting the local scene and showcasing bands in an environment where everyone is able to watch. Best of all, the Clinic isnt one of those cursed pay-to-play venues (LA, were looking in your direction) where bands are required to presell a certain quota of tickets in order to perform. The Clinics official website makes a good point about the no-alcohol-thing, anyway: Being an all ages venue, there is a strict no alcohol policy. Drunk kids/adults cause drama; we dont like drama.
When youre drunk to the point that you can barely stand, dont you just love to sidle up to a long table and chuck a steel disk down a stretch of sandy wood? No? Oh. Well, you should, and Iguana Kelleys in Long Beach is the place to go for some old-fashioned shuffleboard. The bar is home to a 22-foot table that gleams like a miniature bowling alley, especially on $2 Tecate beer night. The pucks are free, as long as you have some sort of collateral to leave with the bartender, preferably something along the lines of a drivers license, but considering the seriousness with which some of the patrons play, they might be more apt to ask for a credit card, wedding ring, or first-born child. A quick anecdote: There is a group of players that comes in, usually on Tuesday night, that insists on wiping down the table and starting from scratch with a fresh coat of specialized silicone beads. They then test to make sure an even coat has been applied. These players flay all those in their path. An illuminated scoreboard on the wall will help your drunk ass keep score, and there are occasional shuffleboard tourneys. This aint your granddaddys sun-deck, Carnival Cruise game, sonny. Grab a beer (preferably a $2 model) and bring the heat.
Getting trashed while bowling is every Americans birthright. Theres nothing like the thrill that comes from catching a nice buzz before trying to gracefully power-walk down the lane, throw a strike, and not crack your skull after you drunkenly step over the line and hit the slick waxed wood. Open 24 hourssince you never know when the 4 a.m. bowling urge will strikeLinbrook Bowl, the Anaheim Googie institution, features the Kopa Room, which gets the prize this year mainly because its a dark hole frequented by people who just want to get drunk and bowl. Sure, some may prefer the glitz of a place like Sutra Lounge, but Linbrook offers far more earthy and meaningful pleasures. And unlike at some of OCs fancier bars, you barely even need to be employed to afford the drinks. And they have nightly karaoke. And darts. With the adjoining lanes all-night hours, you can hit the Kopa, get drunk, bowl all night, get a hangover, and nurse said hangover with some hair of the dog back at the Kopa when it begins serving alcohol again at noon the next day. In theory, theres no reason to ever leave Linbrook Bowl.
Finally. A bartender you don’t have to flag down when your glass is empty. In fact, you probably won’t even see the bottom of your glass by the time you’ve got another cocktail waiting. Thank you, Rick; with you, the thirsty find solace. Charming and attentive, Rick has been working the bar scene since long before he was of legal drinking age (relax, he started out as an O’Malley’s busboy), and serving parched customers has become second nature, not to mention a finely honed skill. Perhaps it’s his sharp, sarcastic wit or that curiously styled mustache, but Rick shakes that mixer like nobody else.
If you arrive just as the sun is setting, the backcountry feel of Cooks Corner provides much-needed respite from the suburban OC sprawl that creeps dangerously close to Cleveland National Forest blossoming just beyond Cooks. As the sun drops, Harleys roar up to the low-slung yellow building at the fork in the road, and regulars pile into its sawdust-strewn interior. Many sit outside on the dozen or so picnic tables for a pint, a smoke or a snack from the menu. The mix of majestic mountains, glittering Hogs and a true biker jukebox cant be beat. Cooks reduces the biker-bar experience to its barest, purest essentials: beer, burgers and mountainsand no strip malls or highways to speak of for miles around.
One of the key figures in Long Beachs thriving music scene, 35-year-old Dennis Owens plays bass for the outstanding bands Free Moral Agents and BlowUpBlow. But its his role as DJ for the long-running Good Foot night at Que Sera for which he is probably best-known and -loved. Most club nights have trouble lasting nine months; Good Foot has been enabling peoples groove addictions for nine years. That sort of durability in clubdom is extremely rare. Inspired by a 1997 visit to the Santa Monica drum-and-bass night Science with his best friend Rodi Delgadillo, the duo started Good Foot the next year, after Owens band Action League folded. Rather than spinning drum-and-bass, though, Owens opted to shod the Good Foot mainly with vintage funk and soul, music thats moved humans of many ethnicities for decades. Owens can spring some unlikely cuts on you, amid the killer tunes youve probably heard before. He has a particular knack for finding awesome Brazilian artists (Emilio Santiago, Gal Costa, Antonio Carlos E Jocafi, Gilberto Gil, etc.) and plucking obscure gems from very popular musicians (e.g., Maria by Michael Jackson, The Jugglers by Average White Band). Whether your feet be good or bad, every second Friday, Owens will treat them (and your damned ears) with expert care.
With its sweeping layout and immense dance floors, Club Vegas is the place to go to break it down on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Just don’t take it too seriously: This place isn’t exactly known for its tactful patrons. Think of all the over-the-top elements of the real Vegas, and you’ve got Club Vegas. The guys have gelled, spiky hair, and the girls wear teeny-tiny skirts and shoes that hurt—but hey, everyone’s there for a good time and to hook up, if they can. Depending on your musical tastes, choose between a massive Top 40 room and a smaller-but-still-substantial house/techno room. Once you’ve opened a tab, a numbered disc allows you to access your account from any of the bars throughout the club, so you don’t have to keep fighting the crowd at the same spot to get a cocktail. Go-go dancers do their thing once the floor gets crowded, which is generally around 11 p.m. The vibe is upscale, but not in an intimidating way, since club-goers are generally of the frat/sorority type. The dress code is strictly enforced, and the VIP lounge is awesome if you can afford to shell out the bucks— yet another way Club Vegas brings the spectacle of Sin City’s glitzy outrageousness to Costa Mesa.
Paul’s can be many things, depending on when you go. It stays chill during the day, with just the locals and regulars watching sports and shooting pool, shooting the shit with some of the best bartenders around, drinking cocktails and Pabsts in cans. Nights are laid-back, too, but only during winter break. If you like your bars sleepy and casual, then go at these times. If you like things more lively, then keep reading. You see, Paul’s is right near Chapman University, which means every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night belongs to the twentysomething crowd, and it gets absolutely packed starting around 11 p.m. This can be fun—as long as you order two drinks at a time (it can take a while to work your way back up to the bar). Plus, it has the best smoking patio in Orange County, a huge open space with ventilation fans and several places to sit. How rare to enjoy a cigarette with a cold beer these days.
This place really and truly offers something for everyone, no matter the preferred lifestyle. Originally overrun by lesbians, the boys eventually took over Friday nights, now named Boys Room. Thursdays are Latin Night, which attracts both guys and girls, but Saturdays still belong to the ladies. Downstairs is relaxed, with darts and pool tables, but upstairs is where the partys at, with DJs and dancing. With its carefree atmosphere and casual dress code, Executive Suite prompts patrons to be themselves; theres no attitude here, just a bunch of party people looking to mingle. Eager to get everyone drunk and frisky, this club is famous for its super-strong, super-cheap cocktails.
Most happy hours are enjoyed only by those who have the option to sit in a bar on a Tuesday at 4 p.m. By the time we working folks schlep into our favorite saloons after a long day, happy hour is long over and done with. Why should this time of mirth not be available to the rest of us? Why should those working late hours be deprived of the happiest hour of the day? This is America, fer chrissakes! The Mai Tai Bar knows our pain. With its tropical-resort feel, this second-floor bar is far from a skeezy dive. Not only does it have an absolutely breathtaking open-air patio overlooking Rainbow Harbor, but it also hosts the Late Night Happy Hour, which goes from 8 p.m. to 11p.m.you know, when people are actually out. The best deals are their $4 specialty drinks, the list of which includes their famous Mai Taigo figure, its also the best in town. If youre not up for such a sweet treat, there are also $3 well drinks and pints of beer for $2.50 (domestic) or $3 (imported). The best part? Mai Tais Late Night Happy Hour happens every day. Yes, every day. And that should make you pretty damn happy.