[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our weekly nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor, Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby, stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
Redz is the type of bar that lets the regulars hold the remote. The night I went, a man with shaggy blond hair sporting a forest-green Redz T-shirt (not one of the four currently for sale) was in control of one of the flat-screens behind the bar. His name was Bradley, and he had turned the channel from sports to A&E--my kinda guy and my kind of bar. Cheap beer, cozy but not crowded, a noticeable lack of man-tanks and neo-Nazis: I don't think we're on Main Street anymore, Toto. Redz Juke Joint may be steps from the sands of Surf City, but it's worlds away from Main Street, Huntington Beach. This neighborhood bar offers sanctuary from the lively dives several blocks south, flocked to by the college-age crowd, morbidly fascinated with rainbow-colored, iced cocktails and Corona-ritas.
The bar is hidden by towering trees in a beachfront neighborhood on 17th Street, not particularly noticeable to the out-of-towner. Inside, you'll find standard local beer-bar décor: ads of both the neon and framed variety, surfboards hanging on the wall (endorsed by Coors Light and the like, of course) as a nod to its surroundings, and a cute mural of beach living circa 1960. HB residents of years past may recall Redz's reputation as a skinhead, ruffian bar, but the bar shook that image a while back; nowadays, a mix of AARP-eligible bikers and young surfer-types crowd the stools.
It's a beer-only bar, but care was taken in the selection and serving of the beer: 19 bottled varieties, 12 on tap. "We sell a ton of this," bartender Gretchen says while pouring a Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschutes into a thickly frosted mug. The first ice-cold sip is just heavenly, made all the more delicious by the fact it's only $4. Who needs Main Street?
"You don't serve hard liquor here, do you?" a big, bald, bearded dude asked Gretchen. She shook her head.
"Damn it! Where's the Jäger?!" a guy called Matt the Carpenter from San Diego jokingly demanded.
There's a couple of pool tables and, in the back of the bar, an arcade of sorts with more bar games than most other dives. There's the standard electronic darts, but also a Fast and the Furious-themed video game, electronic shuffleboard, and, my personal favorite, Big Buck Hunter in HD. This newfangled version of the dive-bar classic caught my eye because it had a Duck Dynasty-themed round. The bar even had a sign on the game aimed at hotheads and sore losers like me: "Temper? Don't slam the rifles. (Delicate electronics, expensive)." It's like they knew I was coming. . . . Proud to say my top score took over eighth place. This was probably my favorite part of the bar because what drunk can resist spending money on cheap, fleeting thrills?
Fun fact: Ace of Fat Taxi (whom you may remember from my August cover story on rebel cabbies and mentioned several times in this fine column) named his town car after customer and Redz bartender Lacey--it's also one of the few bars where Ace will go to grab a beer. If it's good enough for the legendary Ace, it's good enough for us.
BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: While at the urinal, as "Kick Start My Heart" comes on the jukebox, the big, bald, bearded dude remarks, "Who doesn't like Mötley Crüe? Anyone who doesn't like Mötley Crüe is un-American!"
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FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The macaw holding a Corona and hanging from the ceiling.
Redz Juke Joint, 424 17th St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-2223.