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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Monday, October 13, 2014

#2273 - Brooklyn Tavern, Cosmopolis, WA - 9/7/2013

The Brooklyn Tavern, Brooklyn, WA
"There's an old tavern up in the mountains somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, and it has a creek running through it."  I heard a couple mentions of this legendary bar from patrons at other out-of-the-way dives around the remote parts of the state, but no one could tell me exactly where it was, or even what the name was. Finally I stumbled upon the site for the Brooklyn Tavern, and planned a road trip around what would definitely live up to my expectations of one of the great, hidden gem bars in the state of Washington (or anywhere else).

The Brooklyn Tavern, Brooklyn, WA
It does indeed seem like the middle of nowhere -- up a very pretty drive along the North River, about halfway between highways 12 and 101, 18 miles and 40 minutes from the nearest towns or other bars. From the east it can only be reached by navigating some narrow dirt logging roads. The "Brooklyn" area has been dying out since the 40s, when the Saginaw Lumber Mill closed, and the tavern is pretty much all there is to it now. The tavern happily embraces the remote nature of the place; there are no televisions or cell reception, no pulltab bins or cardboard beer corporation memorabilia, the only heat comes from a woodburning stove, and there's a sign behind the bar noting that if you are not happy here there are bars available just 18 miles away (only one of which turns out to be still open). It also embraces Brooklyn past, with passels of memorabilia, much of it celebrating the old lumber business.

The Brooklyn Tavern, Brooklyn, WA
The building isn't really that old -- it was rebuilt in 1991 after burning down the previous year. But it was built with a sort of cabin-like rusticity its predecessor appeared to have, constructed in 1927, and serving drinks to thirsty local loggers and rail workers since shortly after prohibition if not during. The "creek" -- "Snoose Creek" as it is known for its utility in flushing away spent chaw -- doesn't look quite like I envisioned. It is very similar to the plumbed little gutter in The Brick in Roslyn, and years ago much more common in the saloons and the occasional "latrine bar." Serving us was Ciara, a bartender here for three years, who recently married the owner's son Warren. The couple is now in the process of buying the place, and happily treasure the historic nature of the joint and plan few changes. At the front end of the bar were Dottie and Bruce, who have been coming here for the last 20 years. When we remark on how nice it is up here, Bruce asks if we've been here in the Winter. Another man drops in just to pick up an 18-pack. "Just write me up," he says, heading out the door.

Shotgun shell christmas lights and nekkid ladies decorate the
men's room at the historic Brooklyn Tavern, Brooklyn, WA
I don't know when we'll make it back, but we will. In the meantime I feel a bountiful amount of gratitude to Warren and Ciara, Warren's dad Ray, and all the others in the past who have kept this jewel of a joint in the woods waiting for our discovery.

Postscript Oakville:  Seeing the sign about bars 18 miles in either direction surprised me a bit. I knew about the Artic Tavern to the west, but, I asked Ciara, pointing east, "there really is a bar that way?" She told me there was, but that it was owned by an old fellow who only opened when he felt like it. So we changed our previous plans and headed down North River Road to find it.  In a few miles, the pavement turned to gravel, and then the gravel turned to dirt.  As the single lane dirt road wound around around the curling, steep hillsides for about seven miles, I thought if there is really a bar out in this remote area, it must be the best bar ever. But eventually the dirt flattened out into pavement again, and then to civilization, in the form of Oakville, WA. The bar, once quite appropriately named "The Only Bar," was now not even that. A glance through the windows told us that if the owner opened when he felt like it, he hadn't any such feeling for the last several years. So we departed Oakville, and by a different route, on flat wide pavement from which I never questioned might whether I might at any minute reach a point unnavigable by my small, low sportscar.

2611 N River Rd Cosmopolis, WA 98537 - (360) 533-2324
Est. ?  1930s? - Building constructed: 1991
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site:
Reviews: seattleweekly - link - link

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Gonna ride that way this weekend