"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
It's June and it's already oppressively hot. You know what'll fix that? Buzz Aldrin's portable air-conditioned suit. Short of that, your best bet might be an ice-cold pale ale and a game of pool in your favorite well-refrigerated bar. Refreshing, slightly numbing and inside — it's all you can hope for in these scorching times.
To help you find just the right spot in which to seek refuge, we've revisited our favorite watering holes, sussing out their happy hours and special features. Let what follows guide you to buzzed bliss. And get it to go via Cocktail Compass, our handy iPhone app for finding bars and happy hours in Central Arkansas. Download it at arktimes.com/cocktailcompass.
Dives We Love
MIDTOWN BILLIARDS The picture of dive bar: a concrete floor, Polaroids and beer signs covering just about every inch of wall space, a chandelier made of PBR cans and three pool tables, stained so heavily that if you squint, they look like maps. You come to this slender bar, one of only a handful that have a private club license that allows them to stay open until 5 a.m. and the only one in downtown — from wedding receptions, from concerts, from anywhere that drinks have been served — because you don't want the night to end. You leave after spending most of your time waiting in line for the bathroom and, if you're smart, eating a hamburger (a late-night delicacy), carrying a dank combination of sweat, spilled beer and decades of unventilated cigarette smoke and hamburger grease. And then you do it again the next weekend. 1316 Main St. 372-9990. midtownar.com. Full bar. 3 p.m.-5 a.m. daily. Happy hour: 3 p.m.-8 p.m. daily.
SPECTATORS Some people might call Spectators a hole in the wall, but the regulars might not take too kindly to that. Tucked away just off MacArthur Drive in North Little Rock, Spectators is hidden just enough that you might drive by it a couple of times but it's worth seeking out. This is a good-time bar with a decent menu and good prices on beer. They serve "Imperial Pints" too, bigger than your average bear, so if you're gonna have more than a couple, call a driver. Throw in the occasional live cover band — the last time we went we heard everything from KISS to "Amarillo by Morning" — and a good burger and that's all you really need. 1012 W. 34th St., NLR. Full bar. $-$$. 791-0990. 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Mon.-Sat. Happy hour: 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-midnight Sat.
WHITE WATER TAVERN The bar's a repurposed shuffleboard top. The mantle above holds a bowling pen; an oil painting of a regular for the last 40 years; a Busch bottle filled with, among other things, the ashes of a dead man and pubic hair from four women. It's hard to say exactly how old the floors and walls are since the building's burned three times in the last 30-odd years. Inside the stall in the men's bathroom is graffiti that reads "Fort Sumter was an inside job." Out the back door is a fenced-in area for the smokers who used to billow inside. Onstage is someone you've never heard of. Or someone whose songs you know all the words to. It doesn't matter. 2500 W. Seventh. 375-8400. whitewatertavern.com. Full bar. 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 6 p.m.-1 a.m., Sat. Happy hour: 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Markham St. One of only a few dive-y hangouts in West Little Rock. 11321 W. Markham St. 224-2010. Full bar. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon-Fri., 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. Happy hour: 3 p.m. -7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
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