Pauls Cocktails

Photo by Tenaya HillsI started haunting Paul's Cocktails as soon as the law let me and can't exactly remember when I've ever left. Paul's is dive bar perfection, a place where souses of varying caliber can co-exist without judgment under the laissez-faire umbrella of inebriation: ex-lovers who get even with broken Heineken bottles; tired blue-collar workers who share the chipped bar with over-partied/under-studied Chapman kids; sad, hapless divorcées marking their territory with immaculate lipstick prints left on pint glasses. They all gather like moths around flattering dim lighting, pool tables stained more gloriously than the Shroud of Turin, the light of neon beer signs illuminating a mass of happy (or sad) drunk faces. You're either in on the action or a blurry-eyed spectator here: I've seen drunk bravery rear its head on more than one occasion, an exciting spectacle usually culminating with someone's ass hitting the pavement. My courage goes no further than forming dance parties by the 1970s-rock-packed jukebox or lamenting the fate of CBGB's with the great Cheshire cat of a bouncer as I teeter on the edge of imminent blackout. Did I mention their shots are fucking huge?

PAUL'S COCKTAILS, 207 W. CHAPMAN AVE., ORANGE, (714) 639-2480. OPEN DAILY, 6 A.M.-2 A.M.

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