Where Have All the Dive Bars Gone?


Look, I ain’t trying to talk shit, but I feel like it is only fair to pass on something I’ve heard from not one, not two, but three people over the course of the winter.

Three different visitors to Jackson said that everything felt too “hip.”

They seemed to feel like all the restaurants and bars they visited were trying really hard to be modern, and new and cutting edge. (Which is now, count ‘em, four different ways to say nouveau. Make it five.)

I think they expected a little more Wyoming, a little more country, a little more mountain.

Admittedly they clearly didn’t visit the Virginian, The Stagecoach and they almost definitely missed the Alpenhof. But even if they had who is to say they wouldn’t have met some bro bras looking to brawl-broh, or some territorial Wilsonites or gotten so tanked they were asked to take their Austrian drinking songs elsewhere.

I don’t really think they were talking shit. They had a great time in Jackson, but I do think they were missing something. I think they were missing a good old fashioned dive bar.

The good news is, I found one.

Perched above the Snake River in Alpine, Wyoming, Tavern on the Grey has everything it takes to be a true dive bar.

Pool tables, indoor neon lighting, juke boxes, smoking. I honestly can’t remember, but they might have had Buck Hunter. It even had two pool hustlers, who the Saucy Gentleman and his lovely partner let back in the game on some double-or-nothing action. (Admittedly we were only in the game because they scratched on the eight ball in the first.)

Our party had gathered not far from Tavern on the Grey at our friend’s home beneath the white tips of Fairy Peak. We filled the grill and played cornhole until the spring sun had set, and then we lit a fire.

Out of the darkness a female voice called the Tavern’s name, and to my merriment I was at once part of an exodus through sage brush fields.

It was a nice jaunt, as I recall, but in the black of night the entrance to the bar, which was only illuminated by a stray street light did not immediately catch my eye, but that is also typical of dive bars. However, in the morning I realized Tavern on the Grey was situated in an awesome A-Frame building, and also conveniently offers an ice vendor out front.

Turned out I must have known the bartender in another life, because we got along immediately. Surprisingly for a night at a dive bar, I still remember his name. You’ll have to ask Nelson, what is in a Breakfast Shot. It tastes eerily like breakfast.

Finally, a good dive bar offers friendly anonymity.

If you go to the Stagecoach you will undoubtedly see a Thunder lifty whose name you forgot. At the Virg, you’ll end up talking to a friend from highschool all night, and at the Alpenhof probably an old person who knows your parents.

A good dive bar comes with inherent feeling of being alone in a strange and possibly hostile environment. When, however, you go into one of these dark places and instead find the glowing light of humanity, I, for one, am renewed with hope and positivity for the world.

Or maybe I was just drunk.


About Author

A Jackson native, Miller remembers when the West was still wild and you couldn't eat sushi in Jackson. The remote nature of his western home inspired him to explore the world and its many ways. Times have changed and the world has come to Jackson, but Miller has not stopped exploring. The Sophisticated Man Menu is the account of a Jackson 30-something in his quest for gourmet adventure.

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