The World's Greatest Bar: An Essay

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The World’s Greatest Bar is actually more like a park. There’s a bar, sure, but there’s also a big grassy field peppered with sandstone boulders and the occasional evergreen. During the holidays, those evergreens are lit up with Christmas lights. For New Year’s Eve, they rent a big construction crane and slowly drop a big, glowing ball. There are three or four massive fire pits in the yard, so you can sit outside on a cold night and feel like you’re camping but still have access to indoor plumbing and a decent Old Fashioned. You’ll find grills in this grassy lawn, too. People are encouraged to bring their own meat and cook it.

As a rule, I like any establishment that encourages you to bring your own meat and cook it.

People play lawn games and there are kids running around on summer days at the World’s Greatest Bar, which is convenient because I’m always with my kids. They think this bar is a park too, so it’s a win/win.

But the best thing about the World’s Greatest Bar is that it’s next to a river—a big, slightly dirty, Southern river—with canoe access right there at the bar, so you can put in upstream and paddle a few miles down, then take out and get a beer in your bathing suit. In my mind, this is the best of what America has to offer. And it’s truly glorious.

Naturally, a lot of people tube the river during the summer, so there are women walking around the huge outdoor park-like bar in bikinis, drinking beer and playing lawn games. Did I mention that this is the World’s Greatest Bar?

Go inside and you’ll find the requisite hipster bartenders complete with handlebar mustaches. Yes, they think they’re better than you and yes they can whip up a good cocktail. This bar has a few slightly sugary yet still refreshing signature concoctions named after the river out back. The bikini-clad tubers seem to love these drinks.

Food trucks show up on weekends, which is good because I’m usually too lazy to grill my own meat when I’m at this bar. The World’s Greatest Bar is also at the bottom of my neighborhood, within biking distance of my home, which is also a really good quality to have in a drinking establishment. This is the sort of thing you consider before moving neighborhoods—as in, “sure, the school system on the south side of town is great, but it’s such a long drive to get to the World’s Greatest Bar.”

I know this bar sounds like a work of fiction, but every detail I’ve mentioned is the God’s honest truth. And it’s not all roses and puppies at the World’s Greatest Bar. There’s a train track that runs next to big outdoor space. If you drink too much and pass out on that train track, you might get hit by a train. No place is perfect.

The World’s Greatest Bar: The Bywater
Asheville, N.C.

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