Drink your way across America’s iconic Route 66
Subtle as a bald eagle, route 66 is deeply embedded into America’s history and has acted as a formative touchstone in creating the country’s identity of independence and freedom. Although only 85% of the original road survived the decades of upgrades and subsidiary highways, its presence in popular culture – from music to literature and movies alike – continue to ‘champion’ this seminal stretch of tarmac as a symbol for the American way of life.
So, without further ado, find out where you can get your kicks on Route 66 with this most epic of bar crawls!
Kick off your trip with a night spent in the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. This classic Art Deco establishment is a fantastic reflection of Chicago’s cultural history. The live music (predominantly jazz) is world-class and the drinks won’t break the bank. Pull up a seat in Al Capone’s infamous booth (where Al and his henchman used to keep hawk-like eyes on both entry doors) and order up a round of classic speakeasy-style cocktails.
Next stop, John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub in St. Louis! Established over thirty years ago, John D. McGurk’s is heralded as one of America’s best bars and is known throughout the Midwest for riverdancingly-good Irish music, tasty food, quaffable drinks and a massive 8,000 square foot beer garden. It’s a round of Guinness here, folks.
Head to the raucous establishment of Edna’s for a wild night of jukebox fun, pool and a round of Lunchboxes, the accidental beer-based cocktail that the establishment is known for. Served in a frosted mug, this unlikely and aptly named mixture of light beer, amaretto and orange juice (it’s called a Lunchbox because it has “a little bit of everything you need”) has been sold to over 2 million thirsty patrons since its inception.
Known for great live music and a laid-back atmosphere, The Golden Light Cantina in Amarillo, Texas is a legendary Route 66 roadhouse that serves decent pub grub and plays host to a raft of national and local artists. Dig into a buffalo burger and wash it down with a pitcher or three of draft beer whilst taking in a set!
Santa Fe is a bit of a bonus stop on this journey but if you want to maintain historical accuracy then you’ll need to take the time to cruise down the “original“ Route 66 to this beautiful New Mexican town. Whilst you’re there, pop into Maria’s for a staggeringly large Margarita and peruse their 150+ tequila and mezcal selection.
La Cumbre is a true taste of New Mexico. This award-winning brewery pumps out delicious seasonal brews year-round and is an absolute must for any beer fans on route 66.
There’s no place you should be other than the 49er Lounge whilst in Gallup. Another favorite among America’s best bars, The 49er Lounge is where Native Americans raised glasses with the likes of John Wayne, Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart. Come here to sample the best selection of Mexican beers and Margaritas in the area.
After taking a short detour north of Flagstaff to snap a selfie with the Grand Canyon, head downtown to the Beaver Street Brewery for a pint of their award-winning Big Rapid Red – a full-bodied ale with notes of caramel. Another venue worth checking out is Museum Club; a historic landmark, concert hall, and a community center with live gigs on the weekend and dime-a-glass beers (seriously!) on Wednesdays.
So, for this portion of the road trip you have two options. Either stick to ol’ 66 and head straight for L.A. or take a detour for a dalliance with Lady Luck in Las Vegas before bringing your trip to a close on Venice Beach. Just make sure that, after arriving in L.A. and watching the sun set over the Pacific, you head over Downtown and up The Varnish. This iconic speakeasy-style cocktail bar has almost singlehandedly shaped the City of Angels’ craft cocktail scene since opening over 10 years ago. Order up your fave tipple or ask the bartender what they’d recommend – you won’t be disappointed.
There you have it, a guide to America’s Best Bar Crawl on America’s Best Road Trip! Just make sure you don’t pull the short straw when allocating designated drivers – having now read up on what’s in store, shotgun rules probably aren’t gonna fly with your roadtrippin’ buddies…
Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelts and remember to never drink and drive.