What are the hallmarks of an authentic American dive? The flickering neon sign, the cantankerous old bartender, the backed-up bathroom or the alarmingly cheap booze?
The down-and-dirty criteria for a true dive varies, but the sense of ease you feel when you enter is universal. As dives continue to croak, you crave that blanketing effect of familiarity, mixed with stale odors, time-ravaged memorabilia and regulars sitting on either side.
These spaces shutter in greater numbers each year; there are now too many lost dives to count. Some may reopen as glossy imitations with new owners, while others seal up for the big sleep, never to serve another dollar pint. In tribute to these fallen brothers, raise a chipped glass to seven of the greats--and don't forget: The magic's in the memory.
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