Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eat Out. Thirsty Thursdays!

One of the many punk bars in Long Beach, Alex’s Bar on Anaheim Street has all the fixins’ of a good place to get a drink after work or spend the evening.

With over a dozen beers on tap, many of them craft brews, and wacky mixed drinks like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich shot, Alex’s manages to maintain a steady regular crowd of locals while still appealing to the cool, under-40 crowd.

The bar has a laidback atmosphere: sometimes on weekdays bartenders will let regulars smoke indoors. I often wander in wearing sweats and carrying a backgammon board.

On weekends, the bar is transformed, drawing sizable crowds to watch shows. There is often an impressive lineup of punk bands, albeit with a cover charge at the door. Among those who’ve played at Alex’s are the Donnas, The Bronx and Riverboat Gamblers (for those interested, the 1980s punk band the Adolescents is playing Nov. 28; $10 at the door.) Also, iPod nights during the week allow barflies to play their own music.

Here I must mention Mr Mister Miyagi: The backup kareoke band with a wonderfully cheesy, 60plus-year-old frontman with a slick pompadour that performs regularly, and is really quite a sight. Singing 1980s and 1990s karaoke backup, Mr Mister Miyagi pulls quite a crowd with long lists of people waiting to sing their favorite song from high school.

The atmosphere of the bar matches the music played there. Walls are covered in portraits of lucha libre wrestlers, Elvis Presley and topless women. There are also devilish Dia de los Muertos-style skulls hanging from the ceiling and for some reason there’s a gurney in the smoking area out back.

These things, coupled with the dim, red lighting made the bar the perfect venue to shoot HBO’s “True Blood” series, where Alex’s transformed into the vamp bar “Fangtasia”.

Recently the bar has started catering to the series’ viewers, carrying bloody-looking mixed drinks.

Finding the bar is no easy task, though. The words "Alex's Bar" are painted in white on the back of the door, and is hardly visible from the street. Only one red light with the silhouette of a skeleton can be seen from the sidewalk and visitors need to enter from the back. Never park in the neighboring AutoZone parking lot. As Alex’s website reads:

“Those tow-truck bastards at the Auto Zone parking lot are HUNGRY to tow your cars...NEVER park your car in the Auto Zone parking lot if you are coming to the bar.”

--Lauren Williams

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