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Best Boho Bar Phoenix 2000 - Emerald Lounge

Inside the cozy Emerald Lounge you'll find no oversize TVs belching out jock-o fare, no smug bartenders, and no barmaids whose hopped-up attitudes are in direct proportion to their surgically augmented breasts. Hell, the Emerald doesn't even employ a barmaid.

What the lounge does offer is cheap booze served up by genial drink-slingers in an unaffected atmosphere that's equal parts Bukowskian watering hole and trendy Silverlake lounge. On any given night, a live rock band or DJ booms the gamut of punk rock to hip-hop for an unusual mix of off-duty strippers, hot rodders, professional drunks, working-class stiffs, and the usual cadre of artists, writers and musicians. One of the lounge's bartenders -- the ever-charming Miss Cary -- is a woman who's been pouring drinks in the Phoenix underbelly for the past 50 years and still takes to using words like "baby" when greeting you.

With its smoke-stained, Prussian red and black interior, Mondrian motifs and pool tables, this dingy den is a hip hellhole to some and a glorious old-man bar to others. But no matter how it's perceived, Phoenix's sole bastion of boho can never be accused of taking itself too seriously.

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