Slideshow: Ask a Bartender: What's the First Bar You Ever Loved?

The Rosa Villa, Pittsburgh
The Rosa Villa, Pittsburgh
"The Rosa Villa in Pittsburgh! It was a tiny corner bar in the Northside that served Italian food and Dennis Hopper (he was a regular when he was in town). My grandfather drank there completely unbeknownst to me!" — Jen Ackrill (Rye)
Forked River House, New Jersey
Forked River House, New Jersey
"The first bar I ever fell in love with would probably be the first bar I ever worked at: The Forked River House in New Jersey." — Robert Ferrera (Swine)
Bar 119, NYC
Bar 119, NYC
"Bar 119, on West 15th in New York. People had tattoos and piercings and leather in the mid-90s, before that was mainstream hipster. You had to be careful walking into the bathroom so that your jeans wouldn't get covered in urine… Now it's a theme bar. It used to just be a bar." — John McCarthy (Greenwich Project)
Dragon Lounge, Corpus Christi
Dragon Lounge, Corpus Christi
"The first bar I ever worked at. The Dragon Lounge in Corpus Christi, TX. It’s probably why I am still bartending. It was a martini and cigar bar with secret rooms behind swinging book shelves and of course it was haunted as well! Sadly, it actually ended up exploding and burning down." — Carlos Yturria (E&O Asian Kitchen)
The Waterfront, San Diego
The Waterfront, San Diego
"I grew up in beautiful San Diego, so the first bar I ever loved was the first ugly one I could find. The Waterfront in San Diego's Little Italy is not just the home to the largest stuffed marlin known to man, but has the distinction of being the only bar I've ever been asked to leave from. God bless ya, Waterfront, you helped set me down a sleepless and constantly rewarding path." — Dan Bronson (The Strand Smokehouse & Crescent & Vine)
Tony Nik's, San Francisco
Tony Nik's, San Francisco
"Tony Nik's in North Beach, San Francisco—it’s a dive bar right next Tony’s Pizza that’s been there for almost 40 years. It’s my go to spot after work." — Elmer Mejicanos (Tony's Pizza Napoletana & Capo's)
The Vortex, Atlanta
The Vortex, Atlanta
"There is this little place that I used to frequent when I lived in Atlanta called The Vortex. I would order a black bean burger Mexicali with tots and have a G&T with a splash of Campari or a sweetened iced tea. This place has a set of rules for conduct (that can be found on their website) that was used as the basis for the house rules at another one of my favorite bars, JM Curley." — Elizabeth Powell (Liberty Bar)
The Depot Deck, Missoula
The Depot Deck, Missoula
"The Depot Deck, in Missoula, Montana.  Imagine a late eighties/early nineties neon art-deco themed deck bar that has big glass garage doors that open to let in the perfect summer weather in Montana. They serve "Griz" sized gin and tonics (a double served in a pint glass) for $3.  My family have been regulars there ever since it opened." — Aaron Ranf (Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen)
Tobacco Road, Miami
Tobacco Road, Miami
"Tobacco Road! There is a reason why they've been in the game here in Miami longer than everyone else. There is no pretension, only well priced drinks, an over abundance of live music and a surprisingly good kitchen that serves late. What more do you need?" — Armand Rodriguez (Juvia)
Elliot's Bar, Danville, CA
Elliot's Bar, Danville, CA
"Elliot's Bar in Danville, CA. It was established in 1908, super-saloon style, 21+. So naturally, growing up, it was the place I wasn't allowed to go and so I wanted to go. When I turned 21, my entire extended family took me to Elliot's for a drink." — David Welch (Lincoln Restaurant & Sunshine Tavern)
Gingerman Tavern, Chicago
Gingerman Tavern, Chicago
"Ah, that would be the Gingerman Tavern in Chicago. It's a dingy joint next to a concert venue called The Metro— I used to see a lot of shows there and immediately duck into the Gingerman for shots, beers, pool & horrible music. It was the first place where I got to know absolutely everyone there and first experienced how truly meaningful it is to have a place that's so familiar—so full of folks you'd never match together but have become so close. It really felt like home for a long time & that's a feeling I've been trying to replicate everywhere I've been since then." — Greg Sorrell (The Patterson House)
Harbour Tavern, Mevagissey, Cornwall
Harbour Tavern, Mevagissey, Cornwall
"The first bar I ever loved is called the Harbour Tavern and I began working there when I was only 17. It was on the harbourfront of the fishing village I’m from, Mevagissey in Cornwall. It was incredibly grotty, the toilets had buckets on the floor to collect the leaks from the ceiling, and because it was above the drains for the harbour, when you knelt down to put 50 pence in the pool table you often got damp knees. The landlord was a jovial pervert—you had to be wary when you went to the beer cellar in case he followed you in! But it had a hundred rums and killer jukebox of 45s. The landlord would get so bored of the songs that I used to play relentlessly he shuffled the order of the records but it didn’t take more than a week for us to figure out where they were. Those were the days!" — Hannah Lanfear (Boisdale)
Mac's Bar in Lansing, MI
Mac's Bar in Lansing, MI
"Mac's Bar in Lansing, MI. It was legendary. Total dive bar with pool tables, a super small stage, show posters pasted haphazardly everywhere, and graffiti that was years old in the bathroom. The clientele was pierced and tatted when being pierced and tatted made you a freak. Mac's had bands come in from Detroit and Chicago, super cool. I started going in as soon as I was of age, and was overjoyed when I was hired there shortly before I made my move to Chicago." — Sarah Mengoni (South Water Kitchen)
Montana's, Kingwood, TX
Montana's, Kingwood, TX
"Montana's back in Kingwood, TX. It was just a dingy dive karaoke bar, but I always felt at home there; I knew all the bartenders along with all the regulars, some of them I still talk to today. Plus there was always a drink waiting for me, it was like my Cheers." — Jesse Anholt (Wallsé)
Mulcahy's, Wantagh, Long Island
Mulcahy's, Wantagh, Long Island
"Mulcahy's in Wantagh on Long Island.  I grew up working there and had been there for 5 years before moving to Boston.  I was involved in so many ways there and had spent a lot of time there in high school I just came to love it.  Sunday Football, Monday Club nights—enjoyed it all." — Joseph O'Connor (Big Night Entertainment Group)
Maharaja, Seattle
Maharaja, Seattle
"Maharaja in Capitol Hill in Seattle.  I had my 21st there.  They made strong, cheap drinks & $2 Indian food appetizers. You could get a Red Stripe and listen to the Talking Heads." — Michael Lay (Restaurant 1833)
Hunter’s Pub Down Under, Lafayette, IN
Hunter’s Pub Down Under, Lafayette, IN
"Hunter’s Pub Down Under in Lafayette, IN.  It was our after-work spot that was in a basement of a bank.  Just a solid beer and shot joint with really solid bar food, and the best grilled asparagus you’ll ever find. EVER!" — Nate Howell (Cusp Dining & Drinks)
Mona, NYC
Mona, NYC
"The first bar I loved was called Mona (or maybe Mona's) in Morningside Heights by my college campus. It's no longer around but my group of friends used to go there every week because we became such good friends with the bartender who provided such excellent service. He got me hooked on Black Velvet's, and many of my best memories were made in that spot. It felt like home. Too bad it's now a Village Pourhouse..." — Pamela Wiznitzer (Dead Rabbit)
Dive Bar in Sacramento
Dive Bar in Sacramento
"A dive bar outside of my hometown of Sacramento. I loved it because of the surly guests, old regulars, and everything was dark, with leather barstools and cozy booths." — Jared Schmidt (Absinthe Brasserie & Bar)
Carol's Country Pub, Chicago
Carol's Country Pub, Chicago
"I grew up in a small town in Ohio.  It was very near the West Virginia border.  I was never an avid bar fly, but when I moved to Chicago I found a place called Carol's Country Pub.  I swear that when I first walked into this bar I felt at home.  There was absolutely nothing Chicago about it to me.  This place smelled like my hometown.  The same music, same chairs, same dingy black floors.  I don't particularly care for going back to my hometown, but if I am feeling homesick for some reason, Carol's is my ironic home. " — Roger Bailey (Filini Bar and Restaurant)