About as Michigan biker dive as it gets.
The experience of visiting a dive bar for the first time can vary wildly based on who else might be doing a little day drinking on that occasion. This reviewer’s visit to Pub 27 along Cheboygan, Michigan’s, main downtown stretch was met with a parking lot full of what felt like at least 100 motorcycles parked under a large canvas sign out back reading “Bikers Welcome.” The scene inside was densely populated with men wearing black leather jackets crowded into the long corridor that comprises Pub 27.
Though potentially intimidating as a scene, it cut a glimpse of what a typical Saturday feels like at Pub 27, a Michigan dive bar that hosts a steady stream of bike nights to cater to what seems to be the bar’s staple clientele. The building looks fairly nondescript from the outside, a simple sign above the door that reads “Pub 27 Bar” and “Beer to Go” providing the only indication that a business of any kind inhabits the space. Interlocking brick and a set of skinny windows comprise the sum total of Pub 27’s exterior features.
As a veteran of many a Midwestern small town dive bar, Pub 27 fits the mold perfectly, a simple space that houses everything it needs to, the bar, a pool table, beer signs, dollar bills above the bar. Standing out is a bell mounted to an interior post with an accompanying sign that reads “If you ring the bell, you buy the whole bar a round. No excuses!” Hand cut wooden lettering mounted toward the back of the space again spells out the name of the bar, but also hints at the care that has gone into the features within.
Used license plates provide crown molding of sorts in a ring around the bar’s main room, a selection of street signs mounted throughout continuing the theme. Beyond the snacks clipped to a stand behind the bar, an attached kitchen cranked out a handful of classic hamburger baskets during my visit. A long wooden bar runs the length of the space, a mirrored liquor display just behind it. A functioning Budweiser rotating Clydesdale beer display hangs from the ceiling, completing the look.
Pub 27 is the prototype Midwestern dive bar, the anchor of a small town’s main drag that serves cold beer and hamburgers out of a building that looks like it has been there for decades. Places like Pub 27 are organic extensions of the community they serve, and have served for a long time, infusing in the experience the kind of authenticity that makes visiting a new dive bar worth the trip – 100 motorcycles in the parking lot or not.