town that originated the concept of jukeboxes back in 1889. So what denotes a quality juke these days? It's subjective, but there are some key signifiers: diversity of the records and mood-setting capabilities. In this column we seek out and celebrate the remaining machines. We also measure their success with a one to five drinks scale, based on how long you'll want to linger and listen.The heyday of authentic jukeboxes is long over. With many bars installing those nasty touchscreen digital Internet boxes, the old school record-flipping kind of jukebox is a dying breed. And this is in the
With rainbow flags flying high, the Castro is a go-to destination for tourists and locals. It's old movie houses and wine bars, Hot Cookie and Lady Gaga, street fairs and protests. The bars in this neighborhood are packed to the brim every night of the week. But while there are a few noteworthy classic jukeboxes within them, sadly, most bars have opted for the digital breed.
The bar's excellent vodka gimlet pairs nicely with those albums sounds, too. A little bit of vintage elegance, smooth dark wood surfaces, cocktails in an actual martini glass, and music spanning decades, genres. I could've basked in the glow of strong female voices all night -- if it wasn't for those pesky techno remixes patrons kept choosing.
Juke rating: 4 drinks
2. The jukebox at Lucky 13 is likely as punk as they come. Not only does it include albums of the kind (Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains), but the personality of the box is equally as punk in essence: much of it is comprised of scrappy, homemade mixed CDs. Some of the mixes come with helpful titles (Songs in the Key of Pussy) and many feature that familiar hardcore sound -- Buzzcocks, Cocksparrer, even oi music like Sham 69. The regretfully titled mix "Poontastic" actually features some great tracks by Wanda Jackson, the Muffs, and Blondie. Among the actual albums, there are at least two Johnny Cash records, par for the course in punk and rockabilly establishments.
After thoughtfully scanning the offering, a drinking companion remarked, "This is the Motorhead of jukeboxes." He had a point -- it was mean, lean, and right to the point.
One Yelp review also put it quite nicely, "In the age of touchscreen download whatever crap you like multi-media machines, Lucky's jukebox is still rocks carefully, hand-selected punk, metal, country and hip-hop that goes down smooth like a PBR tall-boy (which they serve)."
The bar definitely has its highlights too. The drinks are stiff, there's a photobooth and pinball machine, foosball and sometimes, salty popcorn. And the albums in the jukebox are often rotating, changed out for fresh mixes, which makes it a bar to return to. My only minor squabble: perhaps a bit too much of the rougher stuff.
Juke rating: 4 drinks
That rounds out the Castro's jukebox offerings. While other bars in the hood may have traditional machines or feature the digital monstrosities, our selection is meant to highlight the particularly noteworthy of the bunch. Next up: we hit everyone's favorite, the Tenderloin, in search of jukes, sock full of quarters in hand.