Rookie's Bar Sports a Mélange of Kitsch and a Solid Booze Selection

Dive bar or ski lodge? We can’t tell. - Kevin Femmel
Kevin Femmel
Dive bar or ski lodge? We can’t tell.
A mishmash of fun to be had - Kevin Femmel
Kevin Femmel
A mishmash of fun to be had

This bar has everything: Tiffany-style lamps, hockey jerseys hanging from the ceiling, cigar boxes repurposed as wallpaper, empty beer can mosaics, a short dude that sells you random Marilyn Monroe and Tim Duncan prints out of his backpack, and '90s gangster rap blaring from the sound system.

While this might sound like one of Stefon's Saturday Night Live Weekend Update skits, it's actually a pretty accurate representation of what you'll experience walking into Rookie's Bar. And while it is kind of disappointing this place doesn't go full on surreal (sorry, no Tranderson Cooper, Tranny Oakley or Teddy Graham people), you should still stop by, if only for the kitsch.

Naturally nestled alongside a laundromat and a Quizno's (so when you throw up on yourself you'll be able to grab a bite to eat while you wait for your clothes to get cleaned), Rookie's does little to stand out from the street. An ugly taupe-colored facade and a horribly dated sign greet you as you walk up, but they belie the quirky exterior you'll find once you step inside.

The smell of a worn-in, ski lodge-like setting hits your nose just as quick as Tupac's "Hail Mary" lyrics fill your ears (no 'Pac, I don't want to ride OR die). Adorning the walls you'll find the aforementioned jerseys and beer cans, as well as signed sports memorabilia, street signs and other items that would not be out of place in a mechanic's shop (or an episode of Hoarders, as the random real-life anchor in the corner speaks to).

You'll find the usual dartboards and jukebox as you walk in, but a shuffleboard table as well, which is a nice change of pace from the typical pool table or Golden Tee golf game—definitely unexpected for such a tiny place. And a word to the wise on that dartboard; it likes to eat your quarters and you're better off using spoons as these darts are jacked up. Good luck finding two or three good ones out of the lot, but I guess you won't poke yourself...

Mosey on up to the bar and you're greeted with a decent selection of imports ($3.25), domestics ($2.25) and a solid selection of liquors ($3 wells), nothing that will really blow you away. They might not have some of the "fancier" varieties of vodka and the like, but the bartender had a good pour on the Tito's and cranberry I ordered. Rookie's unabashedly keeps it simple. If you want something more, go downtown. If you need your bartender to be wearing suspenders, sorry bub, this place is not for you. Oh, but if you want mojitos, holler at your boy.

Wait, what? Well, just like that shuffleboard, there was a surprise on the drink front as well.

Looking around I saw a few patrons enjoying some delicious-looking mojitos with big leafy mint leaves. It honestly looked like the most delicious mojito I have seen in a while. A mental note was made to try it out next time. The prices are not the lowest you'll find at comparable "dive bars" here in SA, but still nothing too outrageous. Happy hour knocks, on average, 50 to 75 cents off many drinks.

TVs round out the place, but when it's dead, it rivals a recently beheaded walker on The Walking Dead. I'm talking "hear the bartender pulling bottles and the head of a beer foaming" quiet. For a place that looks so "good times," it was a little uncomfortable at times. I had never been so happy to hear an NWA song suddenly start blaring in my life. On this night at least, it seemed like a place where people go to drink, not to socialize. But as long as you bring a handful of friends with you, it seems like a place you could have a hell of a time.

Rookie's Bar
6402 Callaghan, (210) 377-0909

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