The Best Bars in Orange County (And Long Beach), 2014

Photo by Charles Lam

During the great trek that was Best Of 2014, us Weeklings had to make regular stops at our favorite houses of libation (it was research -- and it took the edge off). Now, we present on to you, 2014's best bars, and the hazy (non)-memories we have of within their walls.

Best Day-Drinking Bar Orange County 2014 - Las Vegas Bar

You gotta love a place that slings drinks behind a 99-Cents Store. And while the nights at Las Vegas Bar feature working-class Mexicans ready to get borracho on Mexican, Salvadoran, even Guatemalan cervezas, daytime at this SanTana standard is a more languid affair, bringing in viejitos in guayaberas, union guys drinking some cold ones for lunch and plebes with nowhere to go. Best yet: The tacos served during lunch ain't half-bad for a cantina. Not Mexican? No problem--nothing says, "I come in peace and am not la migra" like buying everyone a round of Negra Modelo.

Best Street for a Bar Crawl Orange County 2014 - Fourth Street, Long Beach

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Ah, Fourth Street, probably the cheapest place in all of Southern California to get drunk in public. It's practically designed for a dive-bar crawl. Start off on the west edge, and stop at V Room for a cheap boilermaker. Once your buzz is going, cross the street to the Stache for a sub-$10, organic, pretty crafty cocktail. (You must go here second; you'll enjoy it more while buzzing.) Once you're properly drunk, head east to the Red Room and Fern's, where you can spend your night playing pool, punching things you're allowed to punch and listening to music. And to end the night? Holé Molé is right there. Sure, it's not the best Mexican chain, but at 2 in the morning while drunk off your ass? Tacos from heaven.

Best Sports Bar Orange County 2014 - The Catch

Located in the shadows of Angels Stadium, this standby is better known as a place to catch your Anaheim Angels in action on one of the many flat-screen televisions. But come football time, the weekends turn into bacchanals of football fans feasting on the Catch's good pub-meets-steakhouse cuisine and stiff drinks. Best yet, the people who do come here leave rivalries at the door--yes, this is the spot where even a Cowboys fan can enjoy a drink without getting ridiculed for rooting for a team that still starts Tony Romo.

Best Gay Bar Orange County 2014 - Mine Shaft

No matter where in the gayborhood you start your pub crawl, you will end up at Mine Shaft. This bar is all things to all people, with a comforting minimum of the trappings of a post-Stonewall gay bar: There is no porn on the television, no neon penis signs, and the bartenders are dressed as bartenders. Go and challenge the butch boys at pool, dance with the drag queens and leathermen, tip the lone dancer on his platform (and debate whether his Andrew Christian underwear has been "enhanced"). Or, better yet, just sit and chat and drink while waiting for the action to pick up around 11 p.m.

Best Bar in Orange County Orange County 2014 - Anthill Pub & Grille

Admit it: You wish you went to UC Irvine. Not because of the awesome statue of Zot in the student center, not because you really want to get in on the ground floor of the law school, but because then you'd have a craft-beer pub right on campus. Talk about real-life lessons you can carry with you forever: The Anthill Pub & Grille teaches students how to drink real beer instead of whatever's the cheapest at Walmart, which deserves some real recognition.

Best Neighborhood Bar, North OC Orange County 2014 - Glo-Room

There are plenty of cool old neighborhood bars in North County, and the Glo-Room in Anaheim would be just another one, save for one thing: Those other dives don't have Kay. The bartender every local watering hole wishes they had, Kay is lively, seasoned and sassy. Lord, is she sassy. She'll serve up your drink stiff, with a side of "Shut the fuck up and drink it." Don't dare send your drink back to or sass Kay--we can't guarantee your safety if you do. But if you get on Kay's good side, you'll be rewarded with her famous "Kay Bomb" shot or some fresh fruit and veggies on the house. Her accent is heavy and a bit hard to understand at times, but one of her signature phrases breaks all language barriers: a friendly "Go fuck yourself."

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