Opal’s Lounge has been sold

If you are a denizen of the Knoxville dives, you know Opal’s Lounge. If you go by before 7PM these days, you can still hang out with Opal herself. She is a legend in Knoxville bars. She has been like a grandmother to me. One that smokes, drinks and cusses.

I have made it a point to go visit Miss Opal monthly if not weekly since she stopped working the late nights there. It’s always good to see her.

Word has come to me via Mark that she has sold the place. By what I hear, it must be to someone she knows and who will likely keep it much as it is. I am going to get over there soon and find out details. We simply must have a celebration of Miss Opal. Once I know more about the future plans, I will send out word as to when we shall congregate around our community leader.

Here is what they said of the place in 2002 when she got the “Best Real Dive in Knoxville” award:

Best Real Dive
Hey, Toddy’s is OK. It might be deserving of the “neighborhood bar” honor, but it ain’t much of a dive as dives go. The dive of dives is the runner-up, almost straight across Kingston Pike. It shares a gravel driveway with the condemned Biltmore Motor Court, a lodging place that was seedy in its heyday along the Dixie Lee Highway. Opal’s Lounge used to be much worse, 20 years ago in its poke-salad days as Dirty Gert’s, back when the carpet squished with stale beer and the devil knows what else underfoot, but it’s still a dive to be reckoned with. Consider the near-subterranean location, with its door and its parking at the rear (for those timid Baptist tipplers among us). Think of the steel girders overhead, every 30 inches, that hold up the low, gray concrete ceiling, bomb-shelter style. Look at the portraits of John Wayne and Willie Nelson on the side wall above the pool tables, and cast a long glance at the nubile, decidedly nude muchacha painted exquisitely on velvet, con sombrero, above the backbar. Check out the jewel of a juke box. Wonder how come Bubba ain’t shot it yet. Ignore the electronic dart board, there for the dartistes who can’t count. Thanks to Ms. Opal Sparks, prop., Opal’s is still the dive it always was, despite the fact that the pool hall-then-massage parlor upstairs is now an oriental rug shop, and the men’s room is actually clean and doesn’t smell any worse than the Swisher-brand air freshener on the wall. At least the mirror is cracked in two places. And, even though the bar now carries such pee-willy beverages as Guinness stout and Pete’s Wicked Ale, Opal’s is unquestionably a Bud-BudLight-MillerLite kind of joint.

Trust us. The votes Opal’s got came from the most discriminating of dive denizens. There wasn’t another real dive among the top 10. When the prominent throwback sign, lettered: “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone” is taken into full account, one has to wonder who the hell that could ever be.
(Barry Henderson)

She also makes her own damn pickled eggs thank you very much!
Spread the word and get by there before 7PM and pay your respects to the lady.

UPDATE: Even at the time of this post, Opal’s was history. She sold it for a small amount really and we wish we had known. We would have bought it and kept it true to its roots and a shrine to Miss Opal. George Jones would always remain on the jukebox, with Patsy, the Killer, and Elvis.

As it turned out, I was there her last night. I was there with Mark on a Friday and Miss Opal was particularly nice and loving. She literally interupted our conversation several times to give me a hug and tell us she loved us. It seemed strange, and now I know why.

I asked around Metropulse to see if they would do a story on her. She is not fond of reporters. I offered to help and even to write it if needed. Opal would talk to me I am sure. I have not heard anything in a long time. I guess it isn’t happening.

Even Peyton Manning used to go to Opal’s to get away. He loved the place. That’s the way it used to be. A big star like Peyton could enjoy a night there without being hassled.

I spent a gazzilion nights at Opals over the years and saw it dead and crowded as hell. Never saw a fight ever. That says quite a lot for a dive like that. Met the best friend of a certain James Dean and heard the story of the day James took off to the big city and asked his friend to come with him. He didn’t. Met the psychiatrist for Sinatra’s drummer’s son. Sounds like a distant connection, but he told me about meeting Frank and him knowing just who he was and thanked him and offered to help in any way if it was needed. Let me know a little more about the man.

There was a certain magic to Opal’s. And it is now completely gone.

Zombie Village Menu – Oakland, CA


This is also a mailer menu. My first thought looking at this menu cover is, it’s kinda creepy. But then I think, “Zombie Village”, hello! Creepy indeed!

backA little watercolor of the joint is nice on the back. From the Critiki entry it appears this either was or became a Skipper Kent’s place. Once again, there is almost nothing on Tiki central about the place. Makes me wonder. If Zombie Village had been in Tennessee, I would have searched out everything I could about the place and posted it on TC. Just goes to show how jaded Californians are about tiki.

zombie-village-inside.jpg The inside of the menu has that nice line at the bottom that reveals the mug price is included in some of the drink prices.

“The Tropics” Rodeo Drive – Beverly Hills, CA


I would almost say this isn’t quite a tiki bar, but just tropical, but there are all of Don the Beachcomber’s recipes on the menu, so it must be part of the “family”. This site says it opened on November 27th 1935.


This is a pretty impressive menu. More of an advertizing mailer really. Sugie really seemed to have a way with the celebrities. Beachbum Berry talks a little about this place in his discussion of Ray Buhen, the famed bartender of the Tiki Ti. Ray worked at the Tropics and probably brought those recipes with him.

I was surprised to find nothing on Tiki Central about the place. Tiki Road Trip says that it later became The Luau, Steven Crane’s first tiki bar.

The menu is impressive when fully folded out. It has “quotes” from various celebrities about the drinks, including: Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Mickey Rooney, Lucille Ball and Bette Davis, among others. 

Apparently many people blatantly ripped off Sugie’s Tropics. There are at least three places who use his images and phrases, in Denver, Dayton and Hollywood.

match inside 

match front

3D breasts on this matchbook too, a Sugie “signature” idea.



Also has raised boobs on the match cover



Dayton Ohio Tropics


United Airlines Hawaii Postcard


United Airlines has a great history with their flights to Hawaii. Not too long ago the flight staff wore aloha shirts and muu muus. Today, they serve Trader Vic’s Mai Tais on the flights. They still get it. This card I found today extolls the Hawaii that is not just a vacation, but “fullfillment of long-held expectations.”

Butch Batson – Crazy Good


I know Vic and I know he has good taste in weird music. Weird and good music. I finally got around to listening to this post he made last month. It’s intrigued me. My. God. This is the shit! Scary and weird and brilliant, in a scary ass way. It’s the perfect follow up to the Jesco White “Dancin’ Outlaw” video. Not much I can add to this except that you must listen to “Green Girl” which I bet was written while looking at a Tretchikoff painting, and “Don’t Trust”, oh, and “Carolina Drive-In” nearly gave me aheart attack laughing… 

Mai Kai article

This online article has great quotes from the Mai Kai family and extended family of employees. Great eye candy. Sucky Flash site though. Click on the Mai Kai image.

Via Tiki News

Vintage Hawaii Slide of the Week – Kalua Pig

Kalua Pig

This is from a series of images showing them digging up the pig from the pit, dug next to a half empty swimming pool. I like this one because I can’t tell if the man is studying the process to try it back home or praying over it.

Mazarine Cordial

img_1008.jpgA friend of ours found this bottle while cleaning out a house in Indiana. He had no idea what it was, but brought it home. We opened this bottle and sampled one of the most incredible flavors ever. A search of the internet has shown nothing. We have no idea if it is still made or imported. I assume not imported for sure. I had tasted nothing so wonderful in my life until we opened up a vintage bottle of Okolehao recently. That flavor was very close. We finished off this bottle and hated to see it empty.


Update 7-21-2012: After searching for these last 6 years, and many dead ends, I just got another bottle of this magical elixir. It is far better than I recalled, and I must say that comparing it to okolehao is not accurate. It is far superior. Like nothing else. It has notes of curry, cinnamon, honey, licurice and an almost menthol, minty finish that is amazing.

UPDATE 8-25-16: THIS FRENCH SITE digs deep into Mazarine which is a fake version of Benedictine it seems. I would tend to agree as the closet I have come to re-creating it is to take 1 part Benedictine and 1 part B&B with 1/2 part Fernet.

UPDATE 2018: Further updates indicate this is another knock-off of Benedictine. They are heavy handed with imitators adn tended to litigate them out of existence, which is likely what happened here. I have a couple of bottles of this now, but am always interested in more.