Pinkie Master’s: Best Dive Bar in the South

Pinkie Master’s: Best Dive Bar in the South

Savannah is a drinking town. I’m not sure why. It’s one of seven places in the US where you can walk around with a drink (Las Vegas and New Orleans are also on that distinguished list along with Butte, MT). It’s not cruise ship traffic — Savannah doesn’t get any of that. Cruise ships land in Charleston. It’s odd — bars offer to-go drinks.

It’s especially odd because of the age group that visits here. It feels older. Paula Deen’s restaurant is here, The Lady and Sons. She’s the oldest person on the Food Network, right? Maybe not, but she’s no Giada (who’s no spring chicken herself). The city was swarming with old boomers when we where there. Swarming. We saw the black sock and sandals thing … a couple times. We saw lost people consulting AAA maps. Savannah was crawling with people crawling towards the grave.

On the sidewalk a man approaches — he wants money for food. We don’t give him any. “God put somebody on the earth to help me today, I know it!” the man says. “I just haven’t found him yet.” I stop feeling bad for passing the guy up. All part of God’s plan. “I’m going to the church to pray,” he says. Good luck. We need to get off the streets.

Pinkie Master's: iconic Savannah dive bar.
Pinkie Master's: iconic Savannah dive bar.

So we seek refuge at an old bar. Jimmy Carter used to / still does drink here (supposedly). The legend is that he announced his presidential intentions here. Which sounds plausible until you see the place and then it seems a bit far-fetched. The place is a serious dive. And that makes it great.

When we arrive, Bonanza is playing on the TV. An older gent is watching it. A younger drinker is nursing a cocktail and he looks like he’s been here for a while. It’s about 2PM. He immediately strikes up a conversation with us.

The bartender, a younger woman, joins in. We’re chatting it up like regulars, loving it. It feels like St. Elmo’s in Bisbee  — good and welcoming.

We don’t want to go back outside. Pinkie Master’s is a good place, but it’s surrounded by Savannah. Our new buddy gets up to leave — he’s just having his pre-dinner-shift fix. Got to go to work, he says. Bonanza guy leaves to make dinner at home. The bartender finishes off the Jimmy John’s sandwich she brought. The place quiets down and gets ready for the after-work crowd. We leave and sit in one of Savannah’s squares and watch the world go by.

Savannah is missing something. It’s close to great but not great. Pinkie Master’s, however, is great. But we feel bad about Savannah.

From Lisa: Pinkie Master's interior.
From Lisa: Pinkie Master's interior. Check out the caption on the TV.