The Most Historic Bar In Every US State
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The Most Historic Bar In Every US State

Alcohol has an intriguing legacy in the United States, from the earliest days of the revolution to frontier times to Prohibition and beyond. As with any nation, some of the earliest structures built in America were bars and taverns - which often shared walls and ceilings with other rudimentary mainstays, namely brothels and inns. 

When it comes to determining the best historical bars in every state, it's not merely the oldest taverns that make the cut. History has layers, and some younger establishments make up for lost time with outlandish reputations. This roundup of the most historic bars in the United States covers it all, from oldest to rowdiest to most creative.

  • Alabama - The Flora-Bama

    Immortalized in song and story alike, the Flora-Bama Lounge boasts celebrity fans ranging from Jimmy Buffett to John Grisham.

    Founded in 1964, this raucous, lovable bar is technically in Florida. The bridge linking Orange Beach, AL, to Perdido Key, FL, marked the state line, as well as where gambling and drinking were and weren't legal. Its creation was a sly tip of the hat to Alabama's dry laws.

    Today, the Flora-Bama rages on in its unapologetically brash, albeit lovable manner. The annual interstate mullet toss is a must-see, in which contestants take turns flinging dead fish across the state line.

  • Alaska - Salty Dawg Saloon

    Alaska is the largest US state with one of the smallest populations - a prime combination for legendary watering holes. One of the most famous of these is the Salty Dawg Saloon, located in Homer.

    Built in 1897, the early log cabin served as a post office, railroad station, grocery store, and coal mining office. In the 1950s, it made its final transition into a bar. Today, patrons can enjoy a cozy pint while taking in the generations of stories the saloon has to tell.

  • Arizona - The Palace

    Just because something is the oldest doesn't mean it's the most interesting historically. However, this is not the case at Prescott's Palace Saloon, where early guests included Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday.

    With doors opening in the late 1800s, the Palace is allegedly Arizona's oldest bar. Today, guests can still relish markers of the past: bullet holes in the ceiling, a smoking area out back, and drinks at the stately wooden bar. 

    In 1900, a fire swept through Prescott, taking most of the town with it. However, patrons at the Palace joined together to hoist the wooden bar out of the saloon and across the street where, once safe from the flames, they reportedly continued drinking.

  • Arkansas - The Ohio Club

    Hot Springs, AR, is home to the Ohio Club, the state's oldest bar; it opened in 1905. A speakeasy during Prohibition, the bar was also an infamous gangster hangout, harboring the likes of Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Bugs Moran, and Lucky Luciano.

    The establishment has a vibrant musical history as well, and still hosts live music seven nights a week.

  • California - Cole's
    Photo: Downtowngal / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    California - Cole's

    Claiming fame as the originator of the French dip sandwich, Cole's is Los Angeles's longest-operating saloon and restaurant, located on the ground floor of what was the Pacific Electric Building. The bar has survived the Depression, both World Wars, and Prohibition.

    The day Prohibition lifted, Cole's allegedly served a legendary 19,000 gallons of beer. Today, enjoy the same debauchery and check out the speakeasy tucked in the back corner, The Varnish.

  • Colorado - Silver Dollar Saloon

    Established in 1879, the Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville is one of the state's oldest and most celebrated bars. Famous patrons range from Doc Holliday to Oscar Wilde, who reportedly appreciated the bar's cheeky demeanor. 

    Legend has it not all of these guests have left. That's right, the Silver Dollar boasts a few active ghosts.