The Alaskan Hotel & Bar can easily qualify as one of the best bars in Juneau, but is it one of the best bars in America? Esquire magazine apparently believes so.
Esquire lists the Franklin Street hotspot in its third edition of "Best Bars in America" on page 88 of the June 2008 edition, declaring it "one haunt that's remained an unadulterated touchstone of northern-strength guzzling" in a landscape flooded with tourism. While it may not have entirely regained the former glory of the overflowing open mike nights of the late 1990s, the Alaskan Hotel & Bar continues to be Juneau's perennial partying powerhouse during the annual folk festival and had a pretty good run with the weekly Monday Night Raw hip-hop shows.
While unfortunately we don't get to compare and contrast the Alaskan with some of our favorite neighboring bars too often (like the Fogcutter Bar in Haines), we at the Hooligan tend to agree that it continues to be one of the unnatural wonders of Juneau, if not only for the irregular cast of characters it attracts. We also agree because the write-up in Esquire was penned by former Juneau resident Chuck Thompson, the author of the witty travel book "Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer" published last year.
Thompson also extols the prowess of the musicians that frequent the Alaskan in the Esquire composite. "The small stage is the heart of the music scene filled with talent more impressive than you'd expect in a town of thirty thousand," he writes.
And while the Alaskan Hotel & Bar made the cut this year, its ranking remains low on the comprehensive list of "Best Bars in America" on the magazine's Web site, www.esquire.com/bestbars.
In fact, as of press time, the Alaskan Hotel & Bar comes in fourth of the four Alaska bars on the list, with a rating of 43 out of 100 by readers. Latitudes in Unalaska was rated 68, The Pitch & Roll on the ferry vessel Tustumena that travels between Homer and Kodiak, and to Unalaska in the summer, was rated 74, and The Office Bar in Hoonah was rated 75.
Also as of press time, the Alaskan Hotel & Bar had the second-lowest rating of Esquire's best bars, with only Trois in Atlanta, Ga. below it with a rating of 41. But then, the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood was only rated a 45 out of 100 by the readers, a place where Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison and John Belushi had all once partied - and a place where most of us likely never will.
Churchill's Pub in Miami, Fla. had the highest rating with 79.
And while many might complain about the perceived anemic social scene in Juneau in recent years (including us at Hooligan), here's raising a tall one to having one of America's best bars in our own backyard.