365 Things to Do in Memphis #66: Drink at Memphis’ Original Pirate Bar
In a city full of dive bars, the nautically-themed Buccaneer is perhaps the divey-ist (no pun intended).
If there was a lifetime achievement award for dive bars, I would give it to the Buccaneer. Here's why the Bucc (as it's known locally) is the greatest little dive bar in Memphis:
– The Bucc has been open forever. That can't be true, but it's how it feels. It's old enough to have a ton of character, an aging cadre of regulars and a reputation built on wobbly tables and spilled beers. It's housed in a building that seems like it used to be a house, but doesn't seem like it could have ever been anything but what it is.
– The beer is cheap. The liquor is cheap. The cover for shows is cheap (usually $5).
– Speaking of shows, the Buccaneer gets some great ones. You can see everything from fledgling punk bands to local legends, twangy songwriters, DJs, pop acts and one-man bands. When I stopped in over the weekend, I got to hear Johnny Lowebow's one man band massacre the classics for the low, low cost of free.
– The decor is incredible. Though it doesn't seem like many things that happen at the Bucc happen with any intention, whoever designed the place definitely had some. Even though you walk up a few stairs to get into the building, the inside gives one the distinct feeling of being deep under water in the hull of a ship. It's dark, the ceilings are low and the whole thing seems to be suspended in time. In there, it's always well after dark.
– The clientele. I know pirate bars are kind of a hipster thing (or were a few years ago, at least), but the Bucc does not discriminate. They cater to neighborhood locals, musicians, service industry types, hipsters, middle aged people, the happy hour crowd. Really, anyone who likes having drinks at somewhere awesome.
– Here's a sampling of some of the items adorning the walls: a badly proportioned oil painting of a man holding a child, a mosaic portrait of a pirate, signs designating the "Poop Deck" (the bar) and the "Galley" (the kitchen), stickers from every local band you've never heard of, a model ship made entirely out of PBR cans, an oil painting of a mermaid and a pirate making out on a beach.
– There's no bad time to go. If you go when they open (around 3 p.m.), you'll get to hang out with the old timers. Things are pretty quiet there on weeknights and before 11 p.m. on weekends, but the Bucc is super fun when it's the last stop of the night.
The Buccaneer is a smoking bar which means that you have to be 21 to get in. They accept cash and credit cards and they've got a limited food menu.
The Buccaneer Lounge