200 of the Greatest Gay Bars in the World
By Out.com Editors
(The Abbey, uncharacteristically empty.)
LOS ANGELES, California
THE ABBEY : Orignally a gay coffeehouse, the legendary West Hollywood champ has over 16,000 square feet of party space that attracts celebs aplenty (mostly queers and straight ladies, but the occasional straight boy makes his appearance). Famous for creative cocktails (mmm, creamsicle!) and the perfect patio, this is where many a gay brings his or her out-of-town pals to see and experience the heart of WeHo.
AKBAR: Perhaps the social epicenter of hard-partying Alterna-Wood, Akbar is the go-to spot in the middle of Los Angeles's antigloss neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. Great indie music on the jukebox, strong drinks, hot guys, good times have gays (and straights) pack the joint regularly. A lounge with a large bar and dance floor with another bar are available here. Club goers flooded in on Thursdays through the weekend, having the crowd get pretty diverse—the more racially mixed vibe is a welcome change in the often-segregated L.A. nightscape.
FAULTLINE: One of LA’s premiere bear bars, Faultline is a raunchy little spot certain to please if you like your men of the burly and hirsute variety. With an extensive craft beer selection, a “strictly enforced”(emphasis on the quotation marks) no sex policy, and a very friendly leather clad clientele, this is your place if you want a brew and qucikie.
FUBAR: Into alternative dudes? Twinks? Bears? Muscle Queens? They’ll all be at LA staple Fubar if you get the night right. There’s also a stable of go-go boys eager to shove you face first into their junk, so be sure to bring a jock full of singles.
THE CONNECTION: Sip a few drinks, dance, and get some air on the second floor open-air patio, but don't leave early. Stay until 2:30 A.M. for one of the best drag shows around. While you wait, enjoy the video, leather, or shower bar.
TRYANGLES: Worn down but not worn out, this uncomplicated saloon has all the trappings of a local haunt, including some patrons who look like they've been there for decades, but offers visitors pool, a cold drink and a relaxed space to just hang out with friends -- there's nothing more needed.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire
BREEZEWAY PUB: Uncomplicated fun and dalliances can be found at the aptly named Breezeway Pub in Manchester.
JAMBOREE LOUNGE: A wonderful boozy dive bar where the drinks are strong and so is the sleaze, this is a perfect antidote to the overwhelming to the technicolor displays seen at other Miami clubs.
TWIST: The ideal gay frat house, a plethora of rooms to play in await here in this South Beach must. Seven themed bars with different tunes play everything from meringue to house as strippers fill dollar bills into their tight shorts. Head to the back "Bungalow Room" for lap dances from the hottest strippers.
THE PALACE BAR: The first (and only) gay bar on Ocean Drive, come for the cocktails (unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys during Sunday brunch), stay for the sidewalk drag shows. Just be warned: It gets a little out of control here. We mean, crazy.
19 BAR: If you're in Minneapolis and looking for a cheap, quick good time, then saddle up to once-clandestine 19 Bar, where the drinks are cold, the men are hot, and judgements are nil.
JETSET BAR: Industrial design meets chic modernism at this boutique bar in Minneapolis' North Loop. But don't be intimidated: the DJs spin dance-happy tunes and the bartenders welcome everyone with open arms.
PLAY & TRIBE: The two most popular spots in town are voted right next door to one another. Pregame at the more relaxed watering hole Tribe, and then head over to Play for the drag shows or dance floor. Since its Nashville's ONLY true nightclub, you'll get a mix of boys in buttondowns and girls wanting to whoop-whoop. But everyone seems to get along.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana
BOURBON PUB/PARADE: The most popular joint in the French Quarter, it's where both tourists and locals mingle. If you hang around long enough, someone will probably buy you a drink. And ask please before they cop a squeeze.
CAFE LAFITTE IN EXILE: The oldest gay bar in the United States, it's a great friendly hangout even if it does feel like a dingy dive for the most part, with video screens and crummy furniture.
GOOD FRIENDS: In the heart of New Orleans's French Quarter, you're sure to make some new pals over pool, shuffleboard, and cheap drinks at Good Friends.
THE OZ: The most popular dance club in the French Quarter. No matter where you start out in the evening, this is usually where you end up.
(The wall at Julius', via Bowery Boys.)
NEW YORK, New York
BOXERS, CHELSEA: The leading gay sports bar in New York City, this Flatiron/Chelsea favorite packs in the men, shows all the games, plays all the tunes, has pool and darts and offers a wide selection of elaborate bar food. All the bases are covered here.
THE COCK: Locals griped when iconic bar The Cock moved from Avenue A into the old Hole bar on Second Avenue, but when you get down to it, the essential ingredients remain the same: sleaze and sweat and scandalous nights out.
CUBBY HOLE : Notorious for decor that looks like a party supply store turned upside down and shaken out, the Cubby Hole is a closet-size West Village lesbian mainstay. The bar draws neighborhood professionals (like Bravo’s Andy Cohen) for a well-priced happy hour and a mixed crowd for nightly drink specials and a jukebox heavy on current pop favorites and lesbian standards from k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge.
THE EAGLE: Chelsea continues to gentrify, especially since the hugely popular High Line Park, but this leather and fetish bar remains committed to its mission, without becoming haughty or exclusive. The most special attribute? The large rooftop that becomes a hip hangout for one and all on sunny Sunday afternoons.
EASTERN BLOC: Tricked out like a haute Communist-era bunker, this tiny East Village space doesn't shy from taxidermy (just check out the stuffed zebra head) or faux embellishments. But it can get a little too close for comfort on a sweaty Saturday night.
INDUSTRY: As Hell's Kitchen has overtaken Chelsea as the gayborhood of the moment, Industry (from the same people who brought you Elmo and Barracuda) outshines as the stand-and-model masterpiece where the boys (and girls) are pretty and the nights stretch until morning.
JULIUS': The grande dame of New York City's gay bars, Julius' is the oldest, most continuously popular and popping gay bar in town. The boys are wonderful, the music lively, the vintage photos compelling and the burgers and tater tots are a must-have during late night visits.
MARIE'S CRISIS: Another oldie but goodie in the Big Apple, Marie's Crisis has been on the scene for almost four decades and prior to that this basement space was a pre-prohibition gay bar and before that it was a brothel. There's a lot of sexual history here, and perhaps Thomas Paine's ghost: the political philosopher died in the same building.
METROPOLITAN: This Williamsburg joint has no (official) attitude, and a friendly crew to boot. Fireplaces in the winter are fantastic, the multi-level backyard (and barbecue) rules in the summer. A perfect meeting spot for you your Grindr "date" before committing to the hot and heavy. For a different kind of vibe than you’d expect at a gay bar, take advantage of the photo booth or Skee-Ball machines.
XL: The newest (and one of the few) gay-centric dance clubs in the city has weekly themed parties, special guest DJs, and some of the hottest boys from around the world looking for a night of sweaty dancing. Don't miss the regular "Hot Mess" drag revue.
WHITE HORSE INN : Celebrating “80 Years of Fabulous”, the Ho (as it is cheekily referred to) has an English pub atmosphere with muskets on the wall and a wooden interior, but it’s American classic shines shuffle board and offers of free munchies to early birds (mainly just popcorn and hotdog, and a selection of beer on tap. The Ho's comfy aesthetic provides a welcome break from the high-gloss bars across the bay in the Castro.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma
THE BOOM: The Boom's resident drag star Renee Hilton and her drag queen sisters are some of the best in the city, but you can only go to one event here, make sure it's this restaurant/bar's gospel Sunday brunch.
DC SALOON: There's not an ounce of pretense and just the right amount of sleaze in this bar or among its clientele, primarily a mix of local bears and leather daddies.
THE MAX: The Max describes itself as "the best gay dance club in America." The jury's out on that, but this strobe-lit hot spot and host to the Mr. Gay Omaha competition is definitely in the running for most spirit.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE: This is less a bar and more an entertainment complex. Seven bars on ten acres provide visitors to The Parliament House almost any experience they want, be it sporty, campy, grimy or glam.
PALM SPRINGS, California
TROPICALE: Gay bars with good food are hard to find, but you'll find it at all, and an inclusive, welcoming crowd, at this Palm Springs favorite.