It is as the posters advertise. Soft, pillowy sands, palm trees rustling in the briney breeze, bronzed bodies in string bikinis leaving little to the imagination. It is for most a terrestrial paradise filled with sun and sapphire seas that makes you ask “Why don’t I just move here?” The dollar is strong, the cost of living cheap, and I’m sure I’d get along with the local Capo, who after all would never mess with the billions in tourist dollars by strong-arming any expats. The entire place just seems right. I could be that crusty, leather-skinned American dolling out gravel-voiced advice and directions to young Americans ready to drink themselves into oblivion. Now, where in the hell can this pale ass pocho of a midnight rat get a drink!? My future depends on it!
An hour of meandering through the tourist-themed bars and cantinas, I found myself on the Malecon boardwalk, my eyes darting between potential watering holes and bathing beauties (it truly takes more fortitude to stay focused on the task at hand than you’d think.) Then, from the corner of my eye I see arched eyebrows and the knowing grin of the Devil giving the thumbs up. Simply called Devil’s Bar, I knew I’d find my kin would be slinging back glasses and bullshiting away the unsavory daylight hours. Time for a drink.
The bar was half-full with the comforting ramble of English, Spanish and attempts to speak either in a broken clamor. To this LA native, it was already feeling like home. I took a seat at the bar beside a dude drinking from a calavera and pondered my first libation. As the sun was still working on beachfront melanomas, I decided to start my jitter juice journey on the lighter side. A Sapphire Sprite would do the trick and ease me into bliss. My cocktail arrived and I drank. Let’s just say, they don’t make their drinks “easy” at all. That drink was made to hurtle you unfettered into an exploration of your deepest desires. The bartender noticed my reaction and gave that same knowing grin, which said “Welcome to Devil’s.”
As I let the Bombay do its work, I glanced at the signage with its smiling Satan and then it hit me, “I know this guy!” (outside of the adventures with which you are all well acquainted.) My time in Phoenix paid off, it was a cousin of Arizona State’s Sparky the Sun Devil. Well shit, now I was home. Talking to the staff, I found out that the owners Alan and his wife are both ASU grads, and brought their love for their alma mater to their love for Mexico. As locals overheard the conversation, they all agreed that Alan was the man to come to for anything you wanted, or wanted to know about in PV (that’s what the locals call Puerto Vallarta. It took me a tipsy second to figure that one out.) Alan was living my dream. He had created a place that attracts expats, savvy travelers, tourists and locals alike.
The locals gave me a thorough education of the best restaurants, when to visit, how the cartel protects the tourists and everything you’d ever want to know about PV. In the middle of the lesson, and a few more cocktails in, people slowly started to turn to the beach, their faces glowing. I turned to see the most spectacular sunset. The bar fell almost silent as we all soaked in the warming hues. As the sun dipped below the horizon and the conversations ramped up again, my barmate turned to me and said “A different one every night. Can’t ever get sick of it.” Agreed, amigo.
Considered by most The Local Dive, my most important criteria for what makes a dive bar a dive bar is a sense of community and instant belonging. Devil’s owns that in spades. With a different sunset everyday, cheap stiff drinks, excellent bartenders and the local clientele telling non-stop stories, this drive bar rat felt right at home. Might be time for me to start saving up some pesos.