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Old 10-11-17, 10:05 AM   #1
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What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

I'd see all these commercials for Bud, Bud Light, Miller, Michelin, hell even that Arbor Mist bullshit, but wasn't of age to drink during this era. Microbrews were barely a thing. I'm guessing the most exotic shit on the menu would be a Guinness, and maybe the concept of adding jalapeños to your nachos would get people talking. Assuming smoking was much more rampant. What was it like?
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Old 10-11-17, 10:14 AM   #2
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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What was it like?
I don't remember.
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Old 10-11-17, 10:25 AM   #3
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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Old 10-11-17, 10:28 AM   #4
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

You drank whatever they had and it got you drunk, just a lot less pretentiously.
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Old 10-11-17, 10:46 AM   #5
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

I used to go to the bars in the 70's and 80's, quit drinking in '92 so I can't say more there. In the 70's, bars were rip-roaring fun. Went to bars in and out of town, drank myself silly more often than not and had a blast almost every time. A bunch of us would go together, there were alot of bikers in the bars I went to, even though I was never a biker myself I associated most with them and their lifestyle. Smoking, drinking, drugging, sexing, lawlessness, but in a good, fun way.

The 80's weren't nearly as fun as the 70's. By then everyone was afraid to pick up hitchhikers, people were starting to be less open and friendly to one another. We still had fun, but it was different. People were different. Not quite so free-wheeling and care-free. I had WAY more fun in the 70's.
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Old 10-11-17, 11:42 AM   #6
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

It was definitely a situation where you drank what was on tap. I grew up in California so I don't know if this happened everywhere, but the exotic thing that came along that was similar to today's micro brew thing was Mexican beers. It became very cool to order Pacifico and Bohiemia.

On the cocktail side of things, cocktails were not very popular and those who drank them kept it simple. There was no chocolate-Tini or anything with more than two ingredients.

There was little to no wine connoisseurship at the time, so wine was limited to "red or white" of whatever they had. The only time you'd find fine wines was at a specialty ethnic restaurant; French , Italian, German, etc.

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Old 10-11-17, 11:49 AM   #7
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

I can only tell you about gay bars.
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Old 10-11-17, 11:57 AM   #8
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

Micro brews go back to the early 80's around here (Seattle area). Same goes with higher quality bar/pub food. Biggest difference now is the lack of cigarette smoke. It's nice to be able to come home from a bar (and even some restaurants) and not have to immediately wash everything you wore.
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Old 10-11-17, 12:06 PM   #9
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

Heineken was the good beer in the 80s. But hdnmickey is right about Seattle area, I moved there in 1990 and they had all these taverns just serving beer on tap, and had maybe 15-20 taps, and all local microbrews. It was an eye-opening experience.
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Old 10-11-17, 12:16 PM   #10
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

We considered Becks and Heineken to be the finest of beers. Most beers I'd been exposed to were very light pilsner types. We smoked inside and no one said anything. A bar I went to frequently never carded (I was 20) but told me to leave if they had word that they would be inspected or checked on that night. It was full of Koreans and bikers, and they served a free Korean buffet about twice a month. The Koreans, bikers, and military all got along most of the time, but there was occasional drama and lots of drug deals in the bathroom.

What was really amazing wasn't the bars, but the convenience stores. I had a tab at 7-11 for the crappy burritos I'd eat at 2 a.m. on the way home. This was on Geary St in SF, so not like a small town "we trust you" atmosphere. They actually let a lot of soldiers do that (I was stationed at the Presidio.

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Old 10-11-17, 12:23 PM   #11
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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Micro brews go back to the early 80's around here (Seattle area). Same goes with higher quality bar/pub food. Biggest difference now is the lack of cigarette smoke. It's nice to be able to come home from a bar (and even some restaurants) and not have to immediately wash everything you wore.
I remember coming home and showering before bed. The hot water would hit my skin and the smell of all that smoke would rise up off it. Yuck!
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Old 10-11-17, 12:27 PM   #12
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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I can only tell you about gay bars.
I am not a drinker, but this is a great thread...always curious to hear from those in the know what it was like to regularly drink in a bar in the 70s/80s (I was born in 71, so by the time I was legal to hit a bar it would have been the 90s), so please also share your stories, I think they would be an interesting addition to the thread.

Me, I always found bars a bit mysterious, like you had to be part of a special club to enter the place, legal drinking age or not. It does not help that one of the local bars in Arleta/Pacoima I was aware of was basically between a liquor store and an auto transmission place, so while a peek usually showed one or two patrons in the place, in the harsh light of day they were likely to be an older person who reeked of cheap beer and looked...well, poor.

You were not likely to view a just turned 21 girl in a little black dress spilling out onto the sidewalk slightly tipsy (although I guess that is more likely to happen at an actual club vs a dive bar in Pacoima, clubs...also places I never frequented).
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Old 10-11-17, 01:18 PM   #13
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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You drank whatever they had and it got you drunk, just a lot less pretentiously.
LOL. But 100% correct.
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Old 10-11-17, 01:21 PM   #14
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

I grew up in England, so carding wasn't an issue. We were going in pubs from 15 onwards. The closest you got was when a landlord would ask you what year you were born. If you couldn't think of a number 18 less than the current year you didn't deserve to drink.
And pubs were great - certainly way, way busier than they are now. You'd go in and see your friend's dad in there, or various uncles etc. It was a very communal place. Now most people drink at home because it's cheap. It's killed pubs where I come from.
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Old 10-11-17, 01:35 PM   #15
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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I grew up in England, so carding wasn't an issue. We were going in pubs from 15 onwards. The closest you got was when a landlord would ask you what year you were born. If you couldn't think of a number 18 less than the current year you didn't deserve to drink.
And pubs were great - certainly way, way busier than they are now. You'd go in and see your friend's dad in there, or various uncles etc. It was a very communal place. Now most people drink at home because it's cheap. It's killed pubs where I come from.
What part of England? I thought pubs are still fairly active.
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Old 10-11-17, 01:58 PM   #16
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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I am not a drinker, but this is a great thread...always curious to hear from those in the know what it was like to regularly drink in a bar in the 70s/80s (I was born in 71, so by the time I was legal to hit a bar it would have been the 90s), so please also share your stories, I think they would be an interesting addition to the thread.
Probably the biggest thing going in gay bars in the 80s and the early 90s was a lot of beer busts and other fundraising for local AIDS charities. it was a scary time to be gay, especially during the Reagan years.

More people drove drunk back then because of lax laws. I had several friends hurt in accidents that way. I never drank more than one or two cocktails (I was poor) so I was safe.

I remember going to bars and dancing with women I never saw again. And a few I went home with. lesbians were relatively safe from AIDS but I did pick up a bacterial infection once. Yuck.

Lots of Euro pop. Lots of smoke. Lots of posturing. a lot of the boys I barhopped with (I was a columnist for the local gay press back then so hung out with the boys too) are gone now. RIP.
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Old 10-11-17, 02:00 PM   #17
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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But hdnmickey is right about Seattle area, I moved there in 1990 and they had all these taverns just serving beer on tap, and had maybe 15-20 taps, and all local microbrews. It was an eye-opening experience.
Yup, beer snobbery in this area goes all the way back to the 80's. But it always worked to my advantage since I preferred some of the national brands and those were very cheap during happy hour/sports events. More often than not the only reason I was ever in bar was to watch NFL or NBA games. The 80's go back to when games would otherwise be blacked out on local TV, or were not on the local networks at all.
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Old 10-11-17, 02:02 PM   #18
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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I thought pubs are still fairly active.
I read an article recently about many pubs having to shut down because of lack of business, increasing rent/taxes, etc. especially in big cities like London. Sad, because pubs seem to be such a big part of British culture.
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Old 10-11-17, 02:06 PM   #19
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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I remember coming home and showering before bed. The hot water would hit my skin and the smell of all that smoke would rise up off it. Yuck!
My memory of that time is that my coats would often smell of smoke because I wouldn't want to wash them as often shirts/pants. It got to the point where I actually used to just leave coats in the car which meant leaving the bar in the winter (NBA or NFL games) and freezing on the way home. Thankfully it was usually a short drive because I hung out at local bars.
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Old 10-11-17, 02:45 PM   #20
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

Same as they are now except filled with cigarette smoke and even more cheap beer.
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Old 10-11-17, 03:04 PM   #21
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

Mid-80's to early 90's, I remember a lot of MGD and Bud Light promotions. My friends were into Moosehead. I wasn't a beer drinker, so I had mixed drinks, rum & coke, LI iced teas, tom collins, black russians.... It wasn't as smokey as there were smoking areas (tho it is similar to when smoking on airplanes was accepted.)

I used to love the happy hours. $1 well drinks and free buffet.
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Old 10-11-17, 03:09 PM   #22
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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It wasn't as smokey as there were smoking areas (tho it is similar to when smoking on airplanes was accepted.)
From what I can remember the "smoking area" of every place around here was the bar. lol
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Old 10-11-17, 03:36 PM   #23
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

They were better than the 00’s and 10’s.
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Old 10-11-17, 03:42 PM   #24
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

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What part of England? I thought pubs are still fairly active.
Northern England, up by Manchester.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/bu...-a6853686.html
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Old 10-11-17, 03:45 PM   #25
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Re: What were bars like in the 80s and 90s?

I couldn't get into bars until '94 but it didnt consist of PBR, but had lots of Bush playing on the sound system.
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