Nothing has done more damage to the watering hole than Bar Rescue. In each episode, the show’s protagonist swoops into some troubled landmark Toledo bar, guts its history in the name of “open concept,” installs some LED lighting to cut costs, adds some overpriced microbrew, and yells at the backwoods staff — his anger a thin disguise for his McKinsey consultant personality. As a finishing touch, he’ll add a crabcake to the menu. Rescue complete.

This reverse-Road House consultant is why every bar in America looks the same: bland, bloodless, stocked with minimalist Ikea furniture, cut...

Nothing has done more damage to the watering hole than Bar Rescue. In each episode, the show’s protagonist swoops into some troubled landmark Toledo bar, guts its history in the name of “open concept,” installs some LED lighting to cut costs, adds some overpriced microbrew, and yells at the backwoods staff — his anger a thin disguise for his McKinsey consultant personality. As a finishing touch, he’ll add a crabcake to the menu. Rescue complete.

This reverse-Road House consultant is why every bar in America looks the same: bland, bloodless, stocked with minimalist Ikea furniture, cut off from the past. Don’t let the “unique” seasonal IPA or over-sized Jenga fool you. You are staring at conformity. America’s best bar is in fact a chain that is uniformly opposed to bars designed by HR consultants.

Colony Grill opened in 1935 in an Irish neighborhood in Stamford, Connecticut, a few blocks from the rail station, surrounded by warehouses. The restaurant is bifurcated, the bar to the right, with a separate entrance to booths on the left. There is one house rule: no kids at the bar, which is why Grandpa McMorris would drop his wild boys at the lefthand entry before disappearing to the right. Three generations of McMorrises have been left there over the years.

New York Rangers president Chris Drury bought out the original owners and franchised it — with new locations in Arlington, Virginia, and a pair in Florida. While there may now be a single entryway, the Colony culture has remained. The walls are loaded with portraits of the neighborhood enlisted; in the bar hangs the Depression-era portrait of the founding family, the “no child” sign and, of course, it features a statue of St. Patrick.

Everyone knows that the best bars all share one thing in common, and it is not snooty IPAs. It is ashtrays. But every time I write about a smoking bar, police or county commissioners extinguish it. Colony doesn’t allow smoking, but what it lacks in ash it makes up for with the world’s best pizza, one designed specifically for drinkers. It is served on a twelve-inch tray to fit the bar-top; Kate Moss-thin so one need not let go of the drink to eat it. It retains the chew of a New York slice without its messy fold and disappointing droop. I have kept my hair in middle age, but the ability to drink on an empty stomach has vanished. And I’ll take a pizza over a crabcake any day.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s December 2022 World edition.