Drinkin' La Vida Local
By Rachel Smith
Drinking establishments can tell you a lot about the community in which they reside. But when researching a new city, I’m willing to bet that you look to the local pay-to-play news publication for the best places to go.
While I love a fancy, popular joint as much as the next barfly, nothing can compare to a decades-old watering hole that every city has to offer – but these places are not something you will ever find highlighted in a magazine.
Who wants to get dressed up and pay $15 for a martini anyway? Personally, I’d rather be in a place where you can rock your flip flops, fall off a barstool, choose your own horrible music (jukebox!) and completely walk out on your tab under the assumption that someone else will pay it – all sans shame.
As a Sacramento native of legal drinking age and extensive vodka tolerance, I feel a duty to tout a few of the places that will never win an award for cleanliness, wine selection, or hot guy spotting, but will always dominate when comes to authentic, memorable experiences. For me, these are the places that make Sacramento, Sacramento:
Club 2 Me/ Chargin’s Bar and Grill aka “Christian Brothers Continuation School”
Clearly, a fan favorite of mine and CBHS alumni the world over. (Go Falcons!) I put these two bars together, because they really are synonymous hence why many people refer to it as simply, “2MeChargins.” They’re a short block from each other and you’re likely to stumble back and forth between the two several times a night. Why? Because one has a popcorn machine and an outdoor gazebo, and the other has shuffle board and sells cigarettes. Clearly, you have to visit both to ensure a robust night.
Slightly off the grid in the heart of East Sac, these bars are very popular for locals of all ages. A newly 21-year-old college student? You’ll love “the punch.” A 95-year-old great grandpa of said college student? Relax on the old beaten down couches in the corner, my man.
For your logistical knowledge, it’s roughly a $12 cab from Midtown – or $85 in an Uber. Bonus: Del Taco resides halfway on your way back to midtown and the cabbies are always willing to stop for you. Negative Bonus: You will use every last piece of toilet paper in your house the next morning if you order the del beef burrito. Trust.
See people from high school whose names you can’t remember at 47h – 49th & J Streets
Elixir aka “I’m Britney, Bitch”
For the uninitiated, Elixir is not flossy. In fact, I think I got HPV from one of its many busted bar stools. But as everyone knows – vodka is the perfect cure for all things viral – and there is literally no better pour in Sacramento than Elixir.
Owned and operated by brother/sister dynamic duo Kurt and Christina Pow, Elixir throws down the single best bar food I’ve ever had. The appetizer sampler comes with three different dipping sauces and SPOILER ALERT: You might want to pour their ranch over your entire face. The food isn’t limited to standard bar fare, as Elixir offers amazing breakfast and dinner options as well.
A hidden gem that sits across from Old Ironsides, Elixir gets you so drunk for so cheap you don’t even notice the Asian ladies in huge hats collecting nuts from nearby city trees. Pound one of Christina’s famous Prickly Pear shots and feel yourself morph into Britney Spears from the “I’m a Slave 4 U” video. One night I had three and suddenly found myself donning a full red leather pant suit and singing “Oops! I did it Again” into my straw.
This “Elixir” may not be the alchemists dream capable of changing lead into gold, but it can change your $10 into a drunken make out session with that hottie creepin’ in the corner.
Have a lot of vodka at 1815 10th Street
Henry’s Bar aka “Are we in Sacramento?”
You know those women who write love letters to prison inmates? Well, this is where they hang out. And they hang out here because this is where the bus from Sac County drops off recently released felons. Given that, I can only assume that the bathrooms are primarily used for post-prison coital, but I’ve never been brave enough to find out.
Regardless, the place is pretty dark, damp, and borderline scary at times- but what this place lacks in personal security, it makes up for with cheap (I mean CHEAP) drinks and sketchy patrons with relatively nice personalities. And the best part? It’s a perfect go-to spot to hide from your boss on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s out of sight, yet close enough to the Capitol where you can pop out at any moment and pretend you were dropping off a package at FedEx. You’re welcome, government fellows.
Hook up with a parolee at 1117 9th St.
Spitzer’s Walnut Room aka “The Nut Room”
If you are hiding from an ex, the law or your dignity – this where you need to be. Nestled in South Land Park behind a strip mall that you will never be able to actually find unless I tell you, the Walnut Room caters to the Meadowview elite and the occasional Jewish girl from Greenhaven who stops in there on her way to raid her parents refrigerator in Riverlake. The place is equipped with two entrances, but if you’ve been there then you know that they’re actually emergency exits for when gunfire inevitably breaks out between the two dudes fighting over the cigarette butt I just threw out back.
In addition to stiff drinks you’ll consume, there are several exciting activities you can partake in with fellow patrons. There are no actual darts for the dart board, but there is a crane machine filled with stuffed amphibians and 80’s porn videos which is sure to keep you entertained all evening.
I’d be remiss not to mention the fabulous outdoor smoking area, which is approximately four square inches of loose gravel which sits between the green dumpster and a very nice homeless man named Hector. Please note: no one likes a litter bug, even in a joint like this, so make sure to drop your cigarette butt in the ash tray, which you’ll notice is a giant paint bucket that hasn’t been cleaned out since Nam.
Get Nutty at 7043 Land Park Dr.