Nothing like a twisty dive bar hallway.
The imitation of and tribute to American Western culture is a time honored staple of bars and restaurants throughout the world. Whether a Texas Roadhouse in Ohio or an Old West-themed bar in Spain, there’s a certain magnetism to the visual appeal of Old West style. McKluud is Copenhagen’s dive bar answer to the tradition, a bar that labels itself as “The Western Bar” in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood.
Old West style isn’t always associated with subtlety and the giant sheriff’s badge that adorns McKluud’s exterior wall certainly fits into that tradition. Many dive bars provide a kind of tornado of visual stimuli inside, but McKluud takes a little bit of that feeling outside, the wood and brown paint corner plot striking a stark visual contrast to the modern neighbors along Vesterbro’s most trafficked street. Red awnings extend from the building underneath a gold lettering, green background sign that makes the inscription of “McKluud” enjoyably difficult to read.
Where the sheriff badges screams for attention, some of the other adornments preach simplicity. The biggest letters on the exterior of the building simply say “BAR” and the illuminated sign that stretches over the street reads “Bar. Billiard.” Black faux-chalkboard signs frame a neon cactus in the bar’s front window, one making it clear that “Old School Atmosphere” can be found inside. A painted, permanent black Jagermeister sign adds a splash of orange to the façade.
All that being said about the outside of McKluud, the interior delivers on its promise. The angled entry to the building that results from the narrow corner building McKluud inhabits provides one last bit of drama before the narrow space unfolds visually. True for many Copenhagen dive bars, the first impression might be one of intense cigarette smoke, as smoking is not only allowed in dive bars like McKluud in Copenhagen but can at times come with 100 percent crowd participation.
Through the haze, the meandering floor plan features built-in booths on both sides, small tables filling in the gaps when they appear. Though there are certainly snugs and separated areas within, the building feels more like one long drinking corridor, seating on one side, bar on the other. Handwritten signs dot the area behind the bar with drink specials and per-item pricing.
Less standard within McKluud is the presence of a handful of low walls that provide some separation between drinking areas. The vibe certainly isn’t nearly Irish enough to refer to these areas as snugs, but the effect is the same. Even despite a dense Saturday night dive bar crowd, these walls and isolated tables create opportunities to drink in a small group rather than a dense crowd.
But what makes a dive bar a dive bar isn’t the amenities within but rather the overall vibe of the space and this is a space covered in pockmarked wood, scuffed black floors, aging furniture and an unabashed commitment to keeping it that way. McKluud is a dive bar in the purest sense of the term, something that can be hard to find in some European cities but fits right in among some of Vesterbro’s like-minded neighbors.