Bars and booze have, since the dawn of time and warfare, been a staple of the warrior’s lifestyle. That remains true to this day. Some select bars provide not only frosty ales, but also a familiar and safe (depending) environment where one can relax, see old friends and comrades, pass and share information about other friends and comrades, and blow off steam.
Photo: What your mom was afraid of at the recruiters office.
No matter how hard or long governments try to control the moralities of warriors—soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, of every flag—they will always gravitate toward and require bars and booze. For anyone who does not understand this, it cannot be explained. Warriors and monks will never be fused.
I have compiled this list from various sources of SF brothers and from my own experience, and have tried to limit my comments. To be certain, there are probably many bars, taverns, and clubs missing from this list. Some of these listed are famous, and some I have personal knowledge of, but others listed below I can only speak to the word of my SF brothers. Also, I have edited my research for this list so as to not violate any OpSec or otherwise piss anyone off (which will probably happen anyway), and to be as accurate as possible.
Special Forces bars in the U.S.
Ft. Bragg and Fayetteville:
Ft. Bragg is the home of Special Forces and the SF Course, SFQC, and, thus, all SF soldiers spend time and pass through there.
- Green Beret Parachute Club
- CiCi’s Shangri-La on Old Bragg Blvd.
- Rick’s, the kind of place where you had to have your wits about you. There’s always trouble to be had, always a knife- or a gunfight going on.
- Annex 1, on Bragg, part of the post club system.
- The Old Blue Marble on Bragg Boulevard
- The Shady Lady, above Rick’s. Less dangerous and with better-looking dancers, where many SFAS cadres went to avoid the chaos and students downstairs, and to focus on the ladies.
- Bottoms Up, for a while famous for the ANCOC Sunday Library runs.
- The Green Beret Club, which last year was converted to the Smoke Bomb Grille.
- Charlie Mikes, open years ago by a retired SF NCO, run by his daughter after his death.
- Pink Elephant outside Camp MacKall, a popular hangout for CMK cadres. No longer there.
- Seven Dwarfs
- Brass Rail
- Sugar Shack
- The “Pig Farm” NCO Annex at Fort Bragg
- Legends Pub on Bragg Blvd, a big SF biker hangout in the ’90s
- The Apex, Fayetteville
- The Flaming Mug, Fayetteville, another good place to go for fights and fucks.
- The Menopause Manor, so called because any given night a young troop, older troops too, could find a willing older woman. (Funny how many of us who fished in that pond would now see many of those women as sweet young things.)
- The Red Beret Club on the corner of Arden and Yadkin
- The Why Not, a little dive bar in Fayettenam, owned by a retired SF team guy. The club took a few rounds every once in a while, fired due to race tensions, or by the many 82nd guys who were tossed out. (An SF guy who had been in the 82nd once told me that, after he graduated from the SF Course, he went to the Why Not and said, “So, will you fuckin’ let me in now, Goddamnit?!” and that all his drinks that night were bought for him.)
- The Stadium, Fayetteville was a very popular SF hangout during the ’90s.
Photo: Shady Lady Lounge in NC
It’s worth noting that many of these joints had strippers or dancers, but many did, or do, not. Sex is a big motivator and attractor for most troops. Many of these places also had a reputation for being a good place to hook-up; sometimes that meant the wives of deployed soldiers. Some guys would not partake of that action, saying it is wrong, and unfair. After all, what woman can refuse the animal magnetism and electric charm of a Special Forces soldier? Some would partake anyway, saying, “Screw it.”
Ft. Devens, Massachusetts:
- The Fort, outside the gate at Ft. Devens, famous for its taco Wednesdays (during the ’70s and ’80s). One famous fort legend is about a 10th Group trooper who rode his Harley into The Fort and did donuts until a sergeant major ran him out.
- The Mowhawk
- The Wagon Wheel
- The Butter Cup
- Captain Tony’s, Key West
- Sloppy Joe’s, Key West
- Ricks, Key West
- The Instructor Lounge, SFUWO, Key West (No longer there, since the ’90s.)
- The Bad Monkey, Tampa. More of a Spec Ops bar.
- Sloppy Joe’s, Key West
Photo: Captain Tony’s Key West
Every rod and bottle (rod and gun club) on every Army post that ever had a Special Forces team step onto it could be on this list, too.
- The Rialto, the bar in Helena where the 1SSF (1st Special Service Force) used to hang out in their early days. The same bar was used in the movie “The Devils Brigade.”
- Big Sky Brewing, Missoula, has toes to the 1SSF and is an SF hangout. Reputedly, some members of the local SFA chapter have a stake in the brewery.
- Betty’s Battalion outside the New Braunfels Gate, Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. Betty’s walls were covered with 300F-1 photos and history.
- Time Out, San Antonio, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, was very popular with 300F-1 students.
- Broadway Joe’s, Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, another 300F-1 hangout.
I have often wondered how SF medics ever got any medical training done at all with all the beer and women they enjoyed down there.
- Southside Johnny’s, Colorado Springs
- Sufferin’ Bastards, Colorado Springs
- The B Bar on B Street, Colorado Springs
- Betty’s, Seaside, 1970s
- Tia Maria’s on Cannery Row
Ft. Huachuca, Arizona
- Sin of Cortez, Sierra Vista, Arizona
Special Forces bars in Thailand
- The Balcony Bar
- The Cellar Bar, owned by Bill Book, who claimed to be former Navy UDT. Many claim that Bill was a big, loud guy who could not fight at all.
- Nick’s Number One Steakhouse, Bangkok, a good place to get an enormous Kobe steak.
- The Opera Hotel, Bangkok. Very popular with SF.
- Soi Cowboy, off Soi Asoke Sukhumvit, Bangkok.
- The Opera Hotel in Bangkok. An actual hotel, but had a snack bar, a small bar, and a pool. Just about anything a weary SF soldier required could be acquired at the Opera. The Opera is still there and open, and SF guys still stay there.
- Venus, Lop Buri
- Tahitian Queen, Pattaya
- Club Nevada, Pattaya
- The Three Sisters Bar, Bangkok
- BJ’s Bar on Walking Street, Pattaya (1980s)
- Lucy’s Tiger Den, Bangkok
- Aloha Club, Lo Buri
- Green House, Lo Buri
- Sweet Gin Ta Na, Lo Buri
- Rojana Club, Lo Buri
- The Club, Camp Pawaii
Photo: The Tahitian Queen, Thailand
Special Forces bars in Japan
- The Mule Bar, Yafuso
- Mama D’s, Naminoue
- Jacona Basin, Okinawa, boocoo bars
- BC Street, which had, and has, numerous bars.
- Yafuso, Fuetema
- Kadena Circle. Also had lots of good bars.
- The Brown Derby, Okinawa
- The Topper Club, Okinawa
- Hills Club, Okinawa
- American Legion’s stag bar, Okinawa
- Coral Hills Club, Okinawa
- The Turkey Farm, Okinawa
Special Forces bars in Europe
- The Turmkellar, Bad Toelz
- The PHK (Prinz Heinrich Kaserne) NCO Club, Lenggries, West Germany
- The Stokerwirt, aka “Wolfies,” Lenggries, West Germany
- Speakeasy Bar, Berlin
- The Home Bar, Berlin
- Biddy Early’s, Stuttgart
- The Garden of Eden, Bad Toelz, Germany
- Niagara’s, Leggries, Germany
- The Special Forces Club, London
Special Forces bars in Vietnam
- House 22 in Da Nang
- Sylvester’s Lounge, Moc Hoa B-41. Some A Team pukes were allowed.
- The C-4 team bar, and woe to the FNG who sat on the SGM’s stool.
- A-424/411 team house, and A-team camp, was the “Scourge of the Delta,” but whether that rep is for their bar or their ops is not clear.
- The B55 team bar in Nha Tran
- Delta Club, Nha Trang
- Playboy Club, Nha Trang
- House 10, Saigon
- Sporting Bar, Saigon
- The Streamer, Nha Trang.
- C Team bar at Da Nang
- C Team bar at Nah Trang.
- The Sporting Bar on Tu Do Street.
- The Hungry I, a big SF hangout, near the intel school outside Saigon
- The Green Door, Can Tho
- The Peanut Bar, Na Trang
- The original Playboy Club, Nha Trang
- Delta’s club, Nha Trang
- San Francisco Bar on Tu Do Street
- Mama Capriccio’s Restaurant
- Trang Hung Dao Street in Saigon had a string of SF hangouts.
Probably all A camps had a bar in their team house, and some of those developed a reputation. Also, most B and C teams had actual bars in their compounds, usually not too far from the ops center. Many of the bars and clubs on Tu Do traded in black market goods, including hair spray for their girls, and favored SF troops. There were numerous R&R centers, mostly outside RVN, and safe houses, within RVN, all of which had bars.
Special Forces bars in Africa
- Al’s Bar- Kampala, Uganda, mid ’90s
- The Round Bar, Salima, Malawi. A big SF bar, when SF was in town.
- The Bull and Bush, Gaborone, Botswana
- The Lentswe Lodge, Serowe, Botswana
- The Guildhall, Johannesburg, South Africa
Special Forces bars in Laos
- The White Rose, Vientiane, just recently closed
- Mimi’s, Luang Prabang
Special Forces bars in the Philippines
- St. Angeles City, the entire strip
- Olangapo City, the entire strip
Special Forces bars in Australia
- Texas Hotel, an approved R&R center/hotel, in King’s Crossing, Sydney
Special Forces bars in Turkey
- Green Beret Club (forward), Incirlik, Turkey. It was a shit hole, but an SF shit hole.
(“Forward” means overseas, not in the U.S. Forward battalions are battalions stationed OCONUS—outside the continental United States.)
Special Forces bars in Taiwan
In the late ’50s and ’60s:
- The Black Cat, on “Sin Alley” off of North Chung Sheng Road
- House 29
- Club 63
- Oceanic Hotel
- The OK Bar, Taipei
- Champaign House
- Road House
In the 1950s and into the ’60s, there were a lot of SF teams operating in and out of Taiwan due to the tensions between Taiwan and China, and other dynamics in the region.
Special Forces bars in South and Central America
- Doctor Zhivago’s, Bogota, Colombia
- Calipachangōn, San Salvador
- The Association, Panama
- Bar Casanova, Colon City, Panama
- El Moro, Colon, Panama
- Olympia, Colon Panama
- VFW 100, Colon
- The Elks Club, Colon
- El Crocodillo, the best whorehouse and bar in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Everyone was packing, always. It was right next to the airport, which then (in the 1980s) was listed as the planet’s fourth most dangerous runway to land on.
It would be interesting to see similar lists from the SEAL, Ranger, and Recon communities, and possibly even from all other SOCOM units. Even the PJs and CCTs must have their bars and clubs. It might be too soon for MARSOC, though, as that unit is still somewhat in it infancy, and most strip clubs do not admit infants.