Johnny’s Saloon

Huntington Beach, California

Alternately called a biker bar or a punk-rock bar, both terms fall flat in truly describing this place, although “dive” might be a good start. The decor is dark, and seems to borrow heavily from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, complete with things that rise up and down on motors from the ceiling. This “theme” (if it can be called that) follows you into the restroom, which is quite dark and receives a different audio feed than the bar proper. Serenading you will either be the Star Wars theme or “It’s a Small World.” Pirates of the Caribbean, the ride not the movie, has also been heard. (I think even the A-Team theme made an appearance, but I can’t verify that.)

In Memory

The only real theme going on here is Johnny’s support of veterans. “It’s Veteran’s Day 365” they proclaim. On display at the bar are the drinks commemorating the fallen. People come and buy a drink in memory of a friend or family member and leave a note identifying those not to be forgotten. It’s an ironically sobering testament. The line of bottles has grown significantly since this photo was taken,

After 8pm, the bar turns decidedly darker lighting-wise. They even cover the TV’s with a darkening gel to go along with the almost-out dimming setting. No food despite rumors of pretzels, but feel free to bring in your own from one of the nearby take-outs.

Nimah, Intern bartender and resident nerd
Nimah (pronounced Neve), intern bartender

But of course, this is all about the whiskey, and Johnny’s offers up a surprisingly large and varied selection. If you like, you can even buy a bottle from them and have them hold it for you as your personal stash.

They stock a good selection of whiskeys from the usual whiskey places, and even an Amrut from India. They carry well over one hundred options for you to try. Mostly their whiskeys sit in the $7-$15 range, but they do have a smattering of mid-level whiskey ($20 range) such as Auchentoshan 18yr and Glen Garioch. There’s not much above that (they do have Balvenie 21yr at $30). This is a great place to grab a drink in a more interesting environment than your average whiskey bar. The have enough selection to keep things interesting

And yes, the whiskey bottles are held up by statues of naked women on their hands and knees. I welcome suggestions on how to accurately describe this place!


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