Welcome to Doheny Saloon, Where There's a Two-Teeth Minimum
[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 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.]
I was sick, so very sick. It was the kind of cold that left me feeling more like The Persistence of Memory than a human being. But a cold has never kept a good journalist (or drinker--same thing) down, so I knew I had to head out to a dive bar, cold be damned. My friend suggested a "total shithole" he used to play at when he was a teenager in a punk band: the Doheny Saloon in Capistrano Beach. Fucking Capistrano Beach? "All right, but you're driving," I said.
These germs had to be killed, so a Bloody Mary was in order. Wishful drunkard thinking concluded the booze and vegetables in the cocktail would cure what ails me, even if it was 8:30 p.m. on a Monday--a highly inappropriate time for a Bloody Mary, as indicated by our bartender's rolled eyes when I ordered one. There were only a few vacant stools left at the bar, despite this being a weeknight and the rest of South County having long since shut down for the night. My friends and I squeezed between the Mexican man rocking a wig of thick black hair and the middle-aged white man with the red plaid shirt. Instantly, the incredibly friendly regulars introduced themselves: "Hi, I'm Mike," said Toupee Dude. "And I'm Roy," said Plaid Guy. They both extended their arms to us newcomers, the youngest folks in the bar by a generation or two.
Our bartender for the night was a short, spunky gal, manning the busy bar by herself. She raided Avril Lavigne's closet before coming to work, sporting a fedora, striped pink tie, studded belt and wifebeater. It was an interesting look I hadn't seen since junior high, but the gal was nice enough, even if she admitted to us she was having a tough night. After serving me a couple of Bloodys, she saw my nose had used up the tissues I brought with me. "Do you need tissues?" she asked me. "I have some in my truck if you need some." Now that's service!
I can hear you North County residents or HBers already rolling your eyes. A good South County dive? About as common as a black man in Newport, right? But you think Fullerton knows how to party? You think you get down, Costa Mesa? Bullshit: Capo Beach makes the two of you seem as wimpy as Wagon Wheel.
Two seats over from me sat a woman with a loose, cut-up tank top that was once a T-shirt. She had almost a full row of teeth divided between her upper and lower jaw. Hall & Oates' "Maneater" was on the Internet jukebox, and she sang along with confidence while eating fried rice out of a Chinese takeaway box with chopsticks. She cuddled up next to the elderly man to her left, also devoid of the majority of his teeth, and sat friendly-like on the laps of men outside smoking. The lady was rather talkative, but most of her statements were unintelligible to the untrained ear. One thing I was able to make out, however, was when one of my favorite Stones songs, "Beast of Burden," rolled up on the jukebox. Ruthless and Toothless leaned into one of my friends and said, with an awkward stab at "sexy" confidence, "My [generation's] music was better than your music."
A short while later, my friends decided to play pool on one of the two tables, and I stayed behind at the bar to make observations. It was during this time that I noticed a rather butch woman with spiky hair in a wifebeater and baggy jeans playing pool and busting out some air guitar on her cue between shots. I eventually joined my friends at their table. The pretty young female acquaintance I was there with pulled up a napkin and waived it in the air for me.
"I got a number!" she said, motioning over to the gal at the next billiards table over. "Atta girl!" I said, reaching over to give her a high-five. Her boyfriend stood right next to her and laughed. Party all the time, Doheny!
BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "The DoHo is a nightmare."
FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The large, naked bicycle ride photo, framed and hanging above the ladies' room door.
Doheny Saloon, 34125 Doheny Park Rd., Capistrano Beach, (949) 496-9033.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.