The World's Scariest Bars

By Will Herbst 11/03/11

Thirsty? Join us on a tour of five famous watering-holes where people are literally dying for a drink.

When the music changes to a minor key Photo via

1. Dirty Jack's Bar, Cincinnati. Two months ago a new Ohio law went into effect allowing citizens with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns into bars. While opponents of the new law feared that it would lead to a spate of sloshed shootings, Ohio's nervous night-club owners have so far managed to keep the peace. But things recently turned ugly at  Dirty Jack's, a dank, depressing dive-bar in a quarter of Cincinnati that hosts a weekly "battle of the bands." Last month, it was the scene of an actual gun battle, as drunken members of one bad-hair band fired shots at the members of another.  Though several people were hurt during the melee, nobody was killed. But according to the weary bartender who took our call last night, "If we're lucky there won't be any battling bands here for a while."

2. Greenhouse, New York City. Packed with hammered hipsters, wasted Wall Streeters and busloads of Asian tourists, New York's Greenhouse Club aims for a zen, rain-forest kind of feel. Five-thousand crystals dangle from the ceiling, while lush natural scenes peek out from behind the club's recycled glass bars. Bamboo floors and leafy wall coverings add to the club's squeaky-green theme. But while Greenhouse's buff bartenders will gladly whip you up a martini spiked with wheat-grass juice if you're feeling blue, not everyone makes it out in good health. In 2009, two people were stabbed after a fight broke out on the club's dance-floor. in 2010, an off-duty Emergency Medical Technician was shot in the leg by a jealous rival. And just this February, Real Housewives of Atlanta Radhida Ali star went medieval on a bouncer who tried to evict her party from the club , leaving him with 50 stitches in his face and severing a nerve and an artery.

3. L&L Club, Chicago. These days, Jeopardy is the main attraction at this classic Midwestern dive, but the unobtrusive hole-in-the-wall has won worldwide notoriety as the favorite hangout of not one but two serial killers: lecherous cannibal  Jeffrey Dahmer and kid-loving circus clown John Wayne Gacy. A recent Citysearch review praised the bar's "warm, neighborhood feel," but warned that it's "not suitable for children. "  While some online critics deride L&L as "loathsome and lonely,"  others have commended the establishment for its largesse. The barkeeps make sure that the men's room is filled with free condoms, while the ladies room is loaded with free tampons. Some claim the place is haunted, but the only ghosts we saw during a recent visit were slowly sliding down their bar-stools. But to be honest, we're not too sure about the food.

4. Any karaoke bar in the Philippines. If you love Frank Sinatra and Karaoke but you really can't sing, we beg you to stay far, far away from Manila, where a single sour note while performing My Way may land you in the city's morgue. Nobody is quite sure why the Philippines are so enthralled by Ol' Blue Eyes. (We're still trying to figure out why David Hasselhoff is so hot in Germany.) But in just the past decade, outraged Filipinos have shot more than a dozen second-rate singers for mangling their way through Sinatra standards, says The International Herald Tribune. (Word has it that they're fiercely protective of Lady Gaga as well.) If you ask us, its probably best to avoid karaoke bars entirely on your next trip to the archipelago. But if you feel compelled to wow the natives with some old-school standards, may we suggest that you start off with a Madonna ballad?

5. Abdille Nuradin's Bar, Mogadishu, Somalia. Hidden on a sketchy side-street in the center of war-torn Somalia, Abdille Nuradin's bar has managed to remain standing for over a decade, notwithstanding countless bomb threats, automatic rifle assaults, and occasional gunshots from militant Islamists opposed to Nuradin's Western ways. But don't blame the decor! Compared to Dirty Jacks or Chicago's L&L club, this swank African bar is as posh as the Plaza, while the drinks here are ten times cheaper. But if you decide to swap your sobriety for a six-pack of 60-cent Heineken's, don't say we didn't warn you: There's a 50/50 chance that hordes of angry Al Shabab guerrillas will kidnap you and your entire family while razing the entire neighborhood to rubble. On the other hand—60-cent beers!

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