Most dive-bar denizens have no need for a guide to navigate a city's drinking dens; they've got their favorite, and they're sticking to it. But for interlopers who occasionally seek a dark, dirt-cheap and possibly dingy place to throw back a few drinks, it's helpful to know where to go. Seattle Weekly editor-in-chief Mike Seely's indispensable drinking guide Seattle's Best Dive Bars has been steering boozehounds toward hidden gems like The Cabin and dive-bar bastions such as the Turf since 2009. Now hipsters and technophiles can download a handy iPhone app of the guide for $4.99 on iTunes.
The paradox of an iPhone app dedicated to dive bars is strengthened by the fact that Seely himself has "a dumbphone." But he's one of the boozehounds who is naturally (or unnaturally, depending on your point of view) drawn to dive bars. It is this affliction skill, however, that makes Seely's guide to Seattle's dive bars so indispensable. If there's a crusty, dank bar in the Seattle area that serves cans of Schmidt, perhaps has drug deals occurring between patrons, and is frequented by guys with names like Boogie--Seely has found it.
The app includes 100 or so bars around Seattle (it is also available for other cities where dive guides have been published), with descriptions about each. Seely includes the history about most places, along with colorful descriptions of the cast of characters you'll find at each bar today. You can sort the list of bars by name, rating, and location, and further sort them by category. Categories include Good Food, Sportin' Dives, Karaoke Dives, Stiffest Drinks, Gay Dives, Don't Serve Hard Liquor, Best Dive Bars, and Most Intimidating. There is also the ability to check in and add a photo or tip. It'll be interesting to see how many people add photos, since most dive bars are less than photogenic.
And each each bar is rated with between one and five beer-glass icons (as if you'd drink beer out of a glass at any of these places). One glass = one toothless old man at the bar. Two glasses = one toothless old man under the bar. Three glasses = one toothless old man behind the bar. Four glasses = leave your valuables at home. And five glasses = drink and be merry, for tonight you shall die.