Despite the fact that no one I know ever goes there, it’s probably safe to say that one of the first things that people outside of Boston think about when they think about the city at all is the old TV sitcom “Cheers.”
“Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.” Sure, sometimes. But more often, wouldn’t you rather go where nobody knows your name so you can drink in peace? Sometimes you don’t want anyone to care that you came at all, and in fact they’d probably rather you didn’t. I call that the anti-”Cheers” corollary, an idea that takes shape at most of the city’s remaining dive bars. The places where the tourists fear to tread, and probably wouldn’t even be able to find if they wanted to. Unless they had some sort of guide, that is.
What a coincidence, I just so happen to have written such a book! It’s called “Boston’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving In Beantown,” and it’s a beer-sodden travelogue to the city’s grittiest bars, the type of bars that aren’t exactly going to give you a standing ovation for walking through the door. They might actually ask you politely to leave, or at least look at you sideways long enough that you feel like it’s a good idea.
I found roughly 100 bars that fit that description around the immediate metro area — Southie, Roxbury, Dot, Eastie, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Allston/Brighton, etc. Not so many in Boston proper though, which is part of the biggest problem with dive bars today: They’re an endangered species. So drink up the heady aromas of cigarettes and urinal cakes, the tastes of stale beer and overly perfumed townie women, the sounds of screeching Boston accents and mumbled, sodden brogues at some of these true testaments to what Boston is actually like — because before too long, there won’t be any left. Then we’ll all be drinking at places like Cheers.