Ft Lauderdale, Florida
While many tiki bars
are icons among the rum-drinking, hula-dancing set, only the Mai-Kai bar in Florida has earned a spot in the National Register of Historic Places. This tiki stalwart has been slinging tropical concoctions since the 1950s, right on through the dark ages of tiki in the 80s and 90s. Offering locals dinner, flaming drinks and a show, Mai-Kai is a landmark party spot.
San Francisco, California
“Singing Sam” Jordan gained minor fame in San Francisco as a light-heavyweight boxing champion who sang to the crowd after every win, but he earned even more notoriety when he opened his bar in 1959. Jordan, the first African American to own a bar in SF, was famous throughout the neighborhood for his charity—he regularly fed the homeless—and community outreach. The bar is now an essential stop on political campaign trails, a favorite spot for karaoke and, as of 2013, a city landmark.
This Civil War-era beer garden has long been a watering hole for the German-Texan crowd, but that’s not its only claim to fame. The bar not only survived Prohibition but thrived during the dry years by offering a non-alcoholic Bone Dry Beer. Texas officially made it a state landmark in 1967, and it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places 12 years later.
Eight years after the famous Flatiron Building was constructed in New York City in 1902, the Triangle Pub popped up in Seattle with a similar, angular shape. Though the bar is somewhat smaller at just three floors (in contrast to the Flatiron Building’s 21), it beats its East Coast sibling when it comes to happy hour relaxation. Plus, it was once a brothel, which automatically gives it more cred.
The Buckhorn Exchange earned its title as a city landmark for being the oldest bar in Denver. It was founded in 1893 to serve railroad workers. But the real reason to visit this monument is to see the nearly 600 pieces of taxidermy that adorn the walls. Exotic animals also appear on the menu, which offers everything from alligator tail to rattlesnake to Rocky Mountain oysters (fried bison testicles).