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location:lincoln city

In the southern-most section of Lincoln City, in what used to be an incorporated town called Taft, named long ago after the fattest president in American history, there are two bars across 101 from one another. Visited separately, each joint provides quality tippling. In combination, they form a uniquely excellent Let it Pour experience. From the outside, the white and blue Pines Restaurant and Lounge on the east side of 101 appears to be a manufactured home. Maybe it is. This unassuming structure is also noteworthy as being the only bar I've ever patronized attached to a liquor store. Inside the Pines, a sober visitor is immediately struck by the bar's interesting multi-meaning slogan--"The Last Resort on the Oregon Coast"--and the funky lighting scheme: purple florescent overheads, a blinding red neon of "The Pines" behind the bar, and various-colored Christmas lights strung everywhere. Aesthetically, it contrasted nicely to the bartender who happened to be wearing black jeans, a black shirt, black bolo tie, black leather vest, black cowboy boots and a black Stetson adorned with a white feather. He spoke articulately to the regulars on golf and NASCAR but seemed inclined to brevity on other matters. When asked about the beers on tap, The Man in Black said, "Michelob, when I have it." End of story. The narrative line at the Pines is: "we drink spirits in here kid." Elsewhere inside, other curiosities delight: a huge bar-back mirror etched with a pine tree, an outstanding CD jukebox, karaoke, free pool every Tuesday, darts, state promoted gambling, $1 off well drinks for the ladies after 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, a vintage cigarette machine, a police scanner reporting on the constant stream of Lincoln City degeneracy, and most curious of all, a mysterious bottle of Johnny Walker "Blue" Label tucked behind a sharp-edged heating fan and apparently off-limits. Blue Label? As for food at the Pines, I suspect a special advertised near the bar pretty much says it all: "Meat Loaf after hours." Once you've knocked back a few at the Pines, it's then time to list across the highway and dock safely into The Snug Harbor. "Welcome aboard" the sign on the front door reads. Push inside and check out the exquisitely upholstered red vinyl bar and the thick elevated round tables that have coiled rope around the base. The Snug's layout is refreshingly atypical for the coast drinking scene: rectangular, narrow, then a step down to a triangular annex where the pool table and library are. But it all makes for a very comfortable fit where almost every sitting customer can peruse the booze offerings. It's a mariner motif in the Snug but thankfully not appointed in the taste of how Winston Churchill once described the British Navy in the Napoleonic era: rum, sodomy and the lash. The seafarer decor goes about as far as bottles encased in a "Spirit Locker" and signs like "To the lifeboats hung on the walls. The Snug has good draft beer, pretty good liquor, good natural light, friendly patrons, and multiple drink specials, but what considerably raises its stock is the nightly live music offerings, including recently, Lloyd Jones playing solo. On my recent visit to the Snug on a lazy overcast Sunday afternoon, I walked in on a outstanding three-piece folk rock trip fronted by a virtuoso named Rod Whaley. He deftly fielded my request for a Rolling Stones tune and cranked out a wonderful loping rendition of "Dead Flowers." Later the band ripped up a Jim Croce number that made me order another round and certainly useless for any other task that day or night. The Pines, the Snug, beer, whiskey, a Rolling Stones junkie classic on the Oregon Coast after the tourists have headed home. Can it get any better?
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