Bar:  Imbibe

Address:  3101 Central Ave NE

Here’s an oddity: a smoky bar.  Seriously, people smoke in here, legal and everything.  There’s some sort of weird grandfather clause to the indoor smoking ban for cigar bars and retail tobacconists.  This is the only such place I know of in Albuquerque that also sells alcohol. Indoor smoke is such a throwback, such a classic dive characteristic, that we had to see how Imbibe stacks up on the dive scale.

They scored right away on the décor.  There’s a shoe-shine bench just inside the front door, followed by a walk-in humidor.  But what really tickled me was an upper wall dotted with cigar boxes, all different sizes and heights.  It was a little like those blocky features walls sometimes have to deaden noise, and maybe the effect was the same because it definitely was a quiet place.

Patrons were mostly smoking cigars, but I saw a few cigarettes.  I’m guessing they are all regulars, because if smoking AND drinking indoors at an establishment is your thing then you’re going to wind up here.

The drinks are not in line with a dive.  I actually bought a $10 drink, because the artistic minded bartender (Oscar) creates his own Old Fashioned recipe and ages it in sherry casks.  And the best part?  A sweetened black cherry rather than the vile radioactive red maraschino.  I have to say the Old Fashioned was worth the price.

There is a great rooftop area with its own bar and nifty, urban view. Rooftop, I think, is not a standard dive element.  It smacks of trendy and has no hope of being dark in the daytime.  But since I wouldn’t begrudge a dive an outdoor patio I shouldn’t let a rooftop bother me either.

On the dive scale Imbibe scores a 4 out of 10.  Definitely not a dive. But definitely a cool place that meets some dive needs.


The Chart:

Cheap drinks Definitely not
PBR Not a PBR type of place
Floor irregularities Beautiful, artistic floor
Dark Main bar area is dark enough
Bathroom deficiencies Besides the small basic one-holer on the ground floor there are fancy, full bathrooms up a short stair.  They have square sinks that aren’t sinks.  More like a box with a trough around the rim.
Forbidden Fru Fru Drinks Drinks here can get quite fancy
Regulars The smoking crowd appears to be regulars
Pool/darts Nope
Quiet Good and quiet
Questionable décor Cigar box wall counts

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