Because illuminated liquor is mesmerizing.
Downtown Cleveland when it’s 5 degrees outside is precisely the environment in which every cliche about Cleveland, the Midwest and the fools who live there (like me) was observed, written down and publicized. The streets were deserted. My jacket proved inconsequential in light of the cold. And on the horizon I saw the hallmark of any great oasis in these times of frozen distress: a string of Christmas lights attached to a building with no functional windows.
Becky’s sits on the campus, using the term loosely, of Cleveland State, a university embedded into a just-off-center portion of downtown Cleveland that features alternating stretches of “yep, this is fine” to “oh, look at that charming abandoned warehouse.” What it lacks in cosmopolitan sensibility, it makes up for in college vibe, translating the true feel of a campus bar into the otherwise nondescript block it sits on.
This was a welcome development after braving the Uber-less tundra for a solid six minutes. I like my dive bars in many different flavors, but one common characteristic is definitely a feeling of warmth, coziness and that Norwegian word everyone is using these days that I can’t pronounce. (Hygge, which I know only because I Googled it just now.)
The beer selection was surprisingly heavy on two ends of the craft-nerd spectrum: stouts & sours. A dash of IPA rounded out the beer list no doubt for the “visitors” to this bar, while the bulk of the selection consisted of staples for the true and repeated patrons. The special, which I sadly missed, the day after my visit featured cheap tacos and PBR, a combination pretty hard for me to argue with.
My bar stool neighbors cycled regularly. A woman who ordered a double vodka, paid in cash and left within 5 minutes of entering the bar. A man clearly stalling from heading home for the night who used the phrase “maybe just one more” three times while sitting next to me. And a couple that came in two waves, first him, then her, talking about a number of different things I can’t write and preferred not to have heard.
The basics are covered at Becky’s: TouchTunes, dart boards, a winding bar and a chalk depiction of Homer and Moe. A couple of ill-fitting but welcome snugs dot the layout, one housing a reminiscent group of Boomers ordering shots and calling each other with “hey, shithead” screams across the bar.
It’s not the kind of dive bar that will encourage you to sign up for that concealed carry class when you get home, which can be both a good or bad thing, depending on the flavor of the evening. But, it is a cozy campus bar without the frat contingent, and it’s one that beckons with beer and year-round Christmas lights, a pretty unbeatable combination.