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These 7 Anchorage bars might keep your spirit alive this winter

Bars in Anchorage are a lot like pubs in England: they’re default gathering places for locals to unwind, socialize and enjoy life after a hard’s days work.

Alaska has one key difference, though: our winters are far longer and far harsher…often bending people’s emotions to dark places. That’s why we recommend exercising outside and SAD light therapy. But we also urge you to get out and socialize, and that’s where the bar scene come in.

Thankfully, Anchorage is blessed with several reputable watering holes that make it easy to get out and mingle, but first:

Three tips before you hit the bars

First and foremost: Do NOT drink and drive. Like ever, but especially in Anchorage. Not only is winter driving dangerous, Alaska has a zero tolerance DUI policy. You automatically your license, go to jail and much more.

Second: Anchorage bars can be untamed, gritty and downright wild. That’s not a bad thing. A thick skin, a little politeness and a lot of common sense go a long way.

Third: If you like beer, stick to beer. Anchorage has a world-class craft beer scene. Our beer alone is strong and does the job.

And now, the bars…

Chilkoot Charlies

Koots” is a historical fixture in Anchorage, a place you have to check out at least once in your life. It opened in 1970 in Spenard as a local watering hole and has since grown to epic proportions: three stages, three dance floors, ten bars, plus DJs, comedians, live music — often all at the same time. Its reputation is even more epic — ask any local about Koots and they’ll give you a story.

Humpy’s

Beer, beer, and more beer — and excellent food, too. Humpy’s is another classic Anchorage bar, located downtown (with a sister bar located in Kona, Hawaii). The atmosphere is vibrant and very local, which makes for some pretty lively action and people watching in the winter when everyone’s cooped up indoors.

Pioneer Bar

Welcome to “The home of the almost perfect bartender” — the Pioneer Bar. It’s admittedly divey, but there’s a lot going on.

One Yelper sums it up nicely: “This daytime bartender is out of control. And I love it!!! Come to a real place, get real service and a real drink. No nonsense now fuss just order and drink up!”

Bernie’s

Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge — aka “Bernie’s” — is another hotspot when it’s cold outside. The scene is eclectic, with huge areas of seating, a couple of bars, and great food (known for their sushi). Upstairs you’ll find the dance floor and DJ, and downstairs is where you can socialize and hear live music.

Bernie’s slogan? “There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.”

F Street Station

You want intimate, unpretentious and local — with excellent seafood? Go to F Street. It’s a small They serve Alaskan beer in a mason jars, Alaskan oysters and some rather popular halibut dishes.

F Street is an Aviation themed bar that brings in the occasional pilots and military aviators, which makes for some good conversations and story telling.

Willawaw

We’re throwing in Willawaw as the wild card bar in this list. It’s the newest place on the list, opened by the same owners as Humpy’s (and right down the street).

Willawaw bills itself as “Anchorage’s premier multi-faceted gathering space” which includes casual dining, craft cocktails and local beers, a concert and events venue, a coffee company, a birch bar + loft, a speakeasy, and a rooftop bar and grill. That’s a lot, but I’m sure you find yourself a comfy spot somewhere in all that.

The Sitzmark

Okay, the Sitzmark is in Girdwood, not Anchorage, but we’re adding it anyway. After all, what’s better after a day on the slopes than literally skiing or boarding right into the entrance, where you unstrap your bindings, walk up to the bar and grab a beer or hot drink, and munch on some tasty nachos?

The Sitzmark has incredible vaulted ceilings and tall windows so you can see all the action on the mountain (or better yet, you can see the bar from the mountain). Summary: great pub food, live music, lots of character and good times!

Image credits: megalomediac, Willawaw, jack2005, Yelp