Whiskey Dick’s may just be one of many watering holes in South Lake Tahoe. But it begs the question: what makes a great dive bar?
Is it the pictures of Elvis Presley and sailboats and Cadillacs and circus freaks on the walls? Is it the shuffleboard table? Maybe, the scantily clad pinup girls decorating the bar or the way Pabst Blue Ribbon slides easily across the varnish?
Whatever the combination, Whiskey Dick’s has the look, feel and smell of that quintessential dive — albeit a rather neat and tidy one. Yet the owner, 75-year-old Jan Conroy, isn’t the greasy bearded hulk that would seemingly belong behind the reins. As one bartender said, she’s more like your grandma — just with tattoos.
How did you come to own Whiskey Dicks?
I came up here in 2005 after I retired. I spent a year doing nothing and it was driving me crazy. My grandson suggested we get a bar. My daughter and I decided all right. They talked me into looking. This was the first one we came to and I liked it. It’s my type of a bar. We purchased it and opened on Oct. 13, 2006.
Who is Whiskey Dick?
We don’t know. We kept the name.
Were you ever a bartender when you were younger?
I worked as a cocktail waitress and I also worked in a restaurant as a waitress.
What do you look for in a good bartender?
They have to have personality. I look for how they treat me, if they listen to me.
Does it ever get too rowdy around here for you?
Let’s just say that when it gets too rowdy I have something to do somewhere else.
Have you ever been in a barfight?
No, I have not. There have been a few but I have not been involved.
Do you have a favorite cocktail?
Well, I used to. It was called a jellybean. It’s blackberry brandy and antacid in a shot glass. Tastes just like a jellybean.
Can you tell me about your tattoos?
I have three grandchildren. I think they’re angels. I wanted something to show for them. I went down to Lake Monster and got them done. This one over here, I’ve always said this, “I love you to the moon and back.” And this one is for my two great-grandchildren.
What do you think of the music that plays in here?
I think that if everyone likes it and we play the type of music that brings people in that’s good. But my favorite is country western, blues and jazz.
So you’re not a heavy-metal grandma?