California Clipper is a cross between heaven and, well, heaven. If you profess love to the Empty Bottle, then this is the place for you.
Walking into the Clipper would be jarring, if you couldn't see what awaited you through the picture windows. Describing the room as "retro" doesn't really help, because retro implies that it looks old but isn't; The Clipper looks old and is old, though it certainly isn't down at the heel. A massive, red-lit room, lined on the south side with red-leather booths, features a stage in the back corner and a beautiful 40-foot wood bar running the length of the north side, barely lit by table lamps and the backlit bar. You'll have to discover the joys of the adjoining Tiki Room yourself.
Monday (at "9:30-ish") means bingo at the Clipper. The weekend music bookings run to rockabilly and jumpster sounds, but on off-nights, the bartenders curate reliably tasteful indie beats that range from the Talking Heads to the Magnetic Fields. It might lack the participatory fun of a jukebox, but it also lacks the participatory non-fun of people who think it's funny to play Journey.
Drink specials run $4-$8, mostly concentrating on fancy cocktails with silly names. The beer options are likeably versatile; PBR bottles are $2 for the results-minded drinker, but effete types can indulge with Chimay or Anchor Steam. Call drinks are in the $4-$6 range, which is steep, but one fellow patron described his Jack and Coke as "almost entirely whiskey," so no worries.
Centerstage Reviewer: Pete Beatty