These days, much of America looks the same from sea to shining sea. Breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, lunch at Panera Bread, dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, and home to bathe in the glow of the flat screen we picked up at Best Buy. There are precious few things that change as you move from city to city, suburb to suburb, or across the country. One of the few remaining places you can go, whether you’re in a tiny town or a megalopolis, that will give you a sense of local character, is a dive bar.
Though your local sports bar may have been replaced by the ever-creeping, sauce-fingered reach of Buffalo Wild Wings, and your favorite high-end cocktail place may actually be a chain, a good dive bar provides an authentic, if a little dingy, experience. From the jukebox that features songs only the staff likes, to the pool table worn ratty with overuse, to bathrooms that have seen more action than Wilt Chamberlain, a good dive bar doesn’t just serve cheap drinks—it serves a dose of reality in a world that feels increasingly like it was created by a marketing firm. So in honor of National Rum Day, let’s drink to the dive bar, one of the last remaining real American institutions. Join us on a tour of The Best Dive Bar in Every State.