When one hears the term ‘dive bar’, a fairly specific image can come to mind. Personally, I’d describe it as more of a full-body experience. Upon entering, you can expect to be met with a fairly regular assortment of sensory affronts, such as the inch-thick layer of grimey muck that coats the bar-top. Pressing into this muck should reveal a detailed history of the establishment, and for to those that know to look, each layer of this grime is a page of history as good as any tree-ring.
There is a complex bouquet of olfactory delights available to the casual bystander, including stale beer, piss and the heady notes wafting from the regulars. You can taste – well – not a lot, as the food and beverage selection in a dive bar is typically sparse; one or two tap beers usually suffice.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there may be some ouzo, and a lonely bottle of chardonnay waits for the ladies who never seem to arrive (despite the enticing neon ‘ladies welcome’ sign out front).
Think just enough room to swing a mangy alley cat, cockroaches the size of shit zhu’s and the same ’10,000 miles of bad road’ expression that each customer wears like a Southern cross tattoo in an Auburn mosque.
Think topless barmaids serving congealed breakfasts to deathly-looking hungover locals, and shrouded pool-sharks smoking cigarettes rolled from the crushed Cuban heels of last nights’ billiards victims.
Ordinarily one shouldn’t be able to eat at a dive bar. Apart from your pickled eggs placed begrudgingly at the end of the bench, the selection is characteristically noisome. Fortunately, the food at the Duke’s Bistro at the Flinders’ Hotel in Darlinghurst is surprisingly delightful, for a self-described dive bar. There is a plethora of delicious cocktails, beer and vino, but the main selling point of the Flinders’ is the atmosphere and clientele, particularly on a Thursday or Friday night. The local disc jockeys know how to bust out a toe-tapping knee-slapper, and for the lucky regular, a rare sighting of the local busker, Matt Corby can be glimpsed. Word to the wise, however – throwing coins at him will not automatically result in a performance – trust me, I tried.