Alaska’s Legendary Bars

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OK, next to Alaska’s grizzlies, wolves, jagged mountain peaks, and pounding surf, it’s tough to get much wilder than that. Right? Well… actually, some of the wildest times you may have in Alaska may not be in the wilderness at all. But chances are, you’ll still have a howl!

Here are a few of the legendary bars (in no particular order):

The Salty Dog Saloon (Homer) – If you go to just one bar in Alaska, this is the one. Locals claim it is officially the first bar in Alaska – so old that the lighthouse at the bar is on navigational charts. By the height of the front door, and how easy it is to hit your head – it seems as though fishermen 100 years ago were much shorter. When you’re in the bar, all you’ll see is a sea of dollar bills and ‘artifacts’ attached to the ceiling and walls – thousands of dollars and items – all with signatures, boat names, or notes written on them. Underwear and bras have also been known to be a part of this collection. And some of these notes written on them are crude, to say the least, but usually very funny and interesting to read! Great jukebox! Pool tables! And if you’ve never had a cold Rainier beer (a.k.a. Raindog) – the Salty Dog is a great place to experience this joy.*

*(WARNING: Most people from Seattle and Alaska don’t consider Rainier beer to be a joy. – But, just go with it, man. It really is a good beer. Brewed in the tradition of Oly and Hamm’s – some of the Northwest’s finest fishin’ beers.)

Kito’s Cave (Petersburg) – Yup, it’s a cave. A down and dirty bar in the south end of the small town. Can’t remember the music. Think it was a jukebox. If we can’t remember much, that means we had a good time. Serve rum & cokes in those small, Las Vegas style glasses – probably some generic, well rum. That’s OK – we’re in Alaska. Last memory was a couple of 250 lb., 45 year-old salmon skippers trying to fist fight on the front steps. Both of them were so out of shape they couldn’t breathe. Missing punches left and right. Sweaty hogs making a point over something — but they just couldn’t remember what it was… Their crews were rooting them on – including their sons (nice example). They eventually both keeled over from exhaustion – no one was hurt. Just egos. Funnier than hell to watch.

The Mecca (Kodiak) – Big bar in the main part of town. Pool table and jukebox. And many times a band. A favorite among all, including fishermen, cannery workers, and locals. It’s located across from the main harbor in town. As is with most bars in Alaska, it’s open until about 5:00 in the morning. So, with the ‘midnight sun’ or ‘winter darkness’ factors – be careful – because it will be easy for you to lose track of time! It’s across the parking lot from Sole’s (great halibut & chips!), and Tony’s (dark & cheesy, yeah!) – and also next to a few other small, local-crowd, watering holes. The Mecca is a great place to have fun with others and soak up some fishin’ flavor – or also a great place to get in a lot of trouble if you get out of control. Be careful – and have a great time!

The Shamrock (Ketchikan) – Worth mentioning… but long gone. So don’t look for it. But know about it. It is so legendary, that a bartender at an existing Ketchikan bar may think you’re a local or an ‘old salt’ just by mentioning it. Who knows if they’ll buy you a drink for your bar trivia, but at least it will lead into some interesting conversation if they have lived in town for a while, or have heard of the place. It was the Wild West – guys getting thrown out on their faces into the street, glass smashing everywhere – and who knows what else went on. But needless to say, with the strong cruise ship tourism industry in Ketchikan, it was probably a good move by the city to get rid of the place. But the legend still lives on.

Elbow Room (Dutch Harbor) — In the 1970’s, Playboy magazine named this bar as the most notorious bar on the North American continent. Need we say any more?

We’ll try to expand this list some more, as we get input from you. Got any suggestions and descriptions? E-mail us at: . Maybe we’ll post your message on our site!