Only Rough Around the Edges: Local Bars in the Rogue
The neighborhood bar faces the same threat to survival as neighborhoods themselves: digital distractions, disengagement … weed. Far easier to pull on sweats, cruise cable/satellite, and tap your FB Friends’ curated posts, right? Yet, the local bar—distant relation to village pubs or German beer gardens—hangs on in the Rogue Valley.
Bartenders fix arriving regulars’ drinks before they finish their high-fives and handshakes. Leather jacket or denim, Carhartt beanie or bandana, belt-buckle as big as a salad plate or smart phone holster–no one cares. Nurse a lager and chat with your neighbor, or slurp down martinis and sing karaoke. These are a few of the places, and there are plenty more, where the connections are face-to-face and the taps are for beer, not Likes. From north to south:
Iron Oar, Merlin: Vital statistics: was Romar’s and The Hideway; 4 taps, 2 pool tables, 6 televisions. Vibe: leans sports bar; friends accumulate here after work. Notable decor: needs aging, like whiskey. Assignment: order the amazing chili served over fries with cheese.
The Homestead, Rogue River: Vital statistics: Open since at least ‘76, probably longer: 8 taps, 2 pool tables, 4 televisions, 2 shuffleboard tables. Vibe: secret heart of town—regulars turn up through bad times and good. Notable decor: gas log fireplace balances the 23 neon beer signs. Assignment: Meet for karaoke, shuffleboard, and drafts.
Lucky’s, Gold Hill: Vital statistics: Open since “forever”; 8 taps, 1 pool table, 3 TVs. Vibe: local saloon—bartender wears skull earrings and gives hugs to regulars. Notable decor: Daryle Lamonica’s Oakland Raiders helmet. Assignment: Learn everybody’s name before finishing beer #1.
Barkley’s Full Moon Saloon, Phoenix: Vital statistics: Open for 70 years? 8 taps, 2 pool tables, 3 TVs, Vibe: American Legion hall/Nascar. Notable Decor: Massive, original oak bar and bar back–feels a hundred years old. Assignment: Order extra Broasted Chicken; you will learn why.
Willie’s Talent Club, Talent: Vital statistics: Open since… end of Prohibition? 15 taps, 2 pool tables, 2 TVs, 2 pinballs. Vibe: neighborhood spot meets OR 99 Roadhouse. Notable decor: combination of Marilyn Monroe photos, old license plates, and antique firearms strangely works. Assignment: put $5 credit in the jukebox and see what gets played.