Drinking is easy. Finding the right bar, not so easy. We’re here to help. As a public service to all of you thirsty explorers, every week we highlight the best bars in America and tell you what makes them so damn great. This week we’ve got a dive bar that has a place in rock ‘n’ roll history.
NAME: Linda’s Tavern
MUSIC: Bikini Kill, The Exploding Hearts, Zeke
WHY WE LOVE IT: Nicknamed the “Grunge Cheers,” Linda’s Tavern has been a Capitol Hill institution for decades. The décor is Pacific Northwest punk: taxidermy animals hang around the room and exposed wooden beams make the whole place resemble a booze-filled log cabin. And somehow, the laid-back dive still has the same local hangout vibe that made it famous in 1994.
“I opened Linda’s with the founders of Sub Pop records and at the time I owned a clothing store,“ owner Linda Derschang says. “So the first clientele and the employees were all our friends and they all tended to be artists or musicians. We still hire the same type of people to work behind the bar, making it a draw to a similar sort of person who came when we first opened.”
The bar will forever have a place in music history because it is the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive. Cobain didn’t frequent the tavern often—although many other local musicians did, as they still do today—so everyone in the bar noticed when he walked in that night in 1994. He died within a week. When word got out that Linda’s was the last place he was spotted, friends of the late musician gathered there to mourn his death. MTV wanted to film the spectacle, but Derschang refused.
“We always have and always will support local musicians,” she says. Aside from respecting their privacy, Derschang also keeps their music on a steady rotation. “We’re very proud of our jukebox.” Linda’s has an actual jukebox, too, not just a bartender’s iPhone plugged into an aux cord. The jukebox’s catalog is updated regularly to include local grunge and punk bands, keeping the tunes and the bar’s fans fresh. “It’s a comfortable place to hang out and that’s why we’re a bar full of regulars,” she says. “But there’s someone new turning 21 every night.”
Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep
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