Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia St., San Francisco; + 1 415 255 7505; open daily 9 a.m.-2 a.m.
Ms. Mae's, New Orleans
Ms. Mae (Florence Bingham) passed away in 2012, but her spirit endures at this smoke-filled, 24-hour bar where the well drinks are a whopping $2 ($3 for doubles).
Where else in New Orleans (or the United States) can you keep two people entertained all night for less than $20?
Curious characters abound, but the bartenders are fast and (mostly) friendly, assuming you don't cause a major ruckus. If you do, there's a police station across the street.
Ms. Mae's, 4336 Magazine St., New Orleans; + 1 504 218 8035; open daily
Rose's Lounge, Chicago
Corner bars are ubiquitous in Chicago. The regulars at each spot argue that their neighborhood dive is the best in town.
But not every corner bar feels like drinking in your grandmother's basement.
Rose, who's been running the joint since the late 1970s, can usually be found sitting next to a cluster of ancient tchotchkes under a string of drooping, colored lights.
None of the decades-old furniture matches, the jukebox selection is limited and the Old Style is two bucks.
Rose's Lounge, 2656 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago; + 1 773 327 4000; open daily 2 p.m.-2 a.m.
Earnestine & Hazel's, Memphis
Don't mind the haunted jukebox that plays whatever it wants, whenever it wants or the two ghosts who like to wander the hallway.
The friendly apparitions are just Earnestine and Hazel, two sisters who ran this former dry goods store and brothel a million years ago.
Upstairs you can explore the dimly lit old brothel -- remnants include a rusty refrigerator, discarded pinball machine and clawfoot tub.
Keep heading down the hall and you'll find Nate, an elderly gentleman who serves cheap drinks and shares plenty of local history.
Downstairs you can order a famous "soul burger."
Earnestine & Hazel's, 531 S. Main St., Memphis; + 1 901 523 9754; Monday-Friday and Sunday 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-3 a.m.
Frolic Room, Los Angeles
LA Weekly crowned the Frolic Room the city's best dive in 2012, and few would argue with the bar's legendary status.
Charles Bukowski, the prolific poet and novelist whose favorite subject was the City of Angels, drank here often. His portrait hangs above the cash register.
Bartenders donning suits add a touch of class to the place, but not enough to disqualify the Frolic Room as a true Hollywood dive. The embedded grime dates to the 1930s.
Frolic Room, 6245 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, + 1 323 462 5890; open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Mac's Club Deuce, Miami Beach