[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 newest 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've spent many a night at the Shady Nook just being nasty. I've hung out in the alley behind the bar, knocking back flasks of Wild Turkey bought at the neighboring liquor store. I've tucked small bottles of El Jimador into my purse to later shoot in the bathroom. Even my friend's parents get into the mix, smuggling in shooters of Jack Daniel and stealthily pouring them into the sodas they order.
Sorry, Jeff the Owner. We did this not because we're cheap (the Nook is incredibly affordable), but because it only sold beer, soju and a modest, no-thanks selection of wine. But my friends and I still went there because it brings actual workingman culture to Stepford Brea with karaoke, darts, Big Buck Hunter, an Internet jukebox, pool tables and tables from which we can watch the Ducks game. We'd wind up there after family Christmas festivities, after shows or just because there wasn't shit else to do in Brea that night.
But now, the Nook has a liquor license! I first heard murmurings of this momentous development around the beginning of the year, and it was finally true in late March. Time for a non-cheating visit! Since it was new to the alcohol game, I went in not really expecting the bartenders to have mastered the art of cocktails, considering they'd more or less just pulled tap handles or flicked open beer bottles for years.
And I was right.
I decided to test the bartender with a peach martini. No offense to the lovely, crimson-haired Stacey, but it just didn't work: a dry, bitter mix of peach Absolut and vermouth. She was kind enough to try again, this time with a sweet vermouth that turned it into a semi-spicy concoction–better, but I never would have guessed it was a peach martini. Stacey says the bar is attracting a younger crowd, and new faces are starting to come in, but she vows its lumpen ambiance will remain. A signature cocktail list is imminent after bartender training, but for now, I'd stick to straight shots and beer.
Some ups about the Nook: There's always a very friendly crowd. It offers more than just a pool table for entertainment, and you'll always see patrons doing more than staring into their drinks. Credit cards are accepted, and you can order pizza from next door and enjoy it right there in the bar.
Some downs about the Nook: There's a noticeable lack of cute guys and gals to look at. As it is right now, the crowd is a bunch of boring suburbanites–and Breans rank just below Los Alamitosians among the most boring people in OC (at least those Yorba Lindans bring drama wherever they go–and if you don't believe me, try Foxfire any night of the week).
But hey, I stumbled out of the Nook drunker than I ever had before–and I didn't even have to be a delinquent sneaking in booze this time.
GO HERE IF: You're unfortunate enough to live in the Brea Bubble.
FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The customer-decorated ceiling panels.
The Shady Nook, 151 S. Kraemer Blvd., Brea, (714) 672-9440; www.shadynookbar.com.