The City that Drinks: 444 Liquors and Sports Bar, an utterly charming dive bar

City Paper

Nestled comfortably on the main drag in Essex, among various pregnancy counseling centers, the iconic wastewater-treatment plant, and even a haunted house in an office building (looking at you, Kim’s Krypt), lies the utterly charming dive known as 444 Liquors. Liquor up front, party in the rear, 444 Liquors is a full-service liquor store coupled with a “Sports Bar” that has its own set of pool tables, dart boards, and a drop-ceiling-meets-wood-paneling aesthetic all over the joint—ahh, this is the good stuff. With adequate room for mingling on a clean dance floor of sorts with plenty of mirrors to check out patrons from all angles, 444 is a party waiting to happen.

If the $1.50 Bud Light bottles aren’t enough to entice any given patron to settle down into the just-barely-too-low barstools, surely the $2.50 Castillo Silver shots will bring even the most discerning customer through the side door. But if $2.50 seems too inexpensive, don’t worry: Every bottle of liquor has the per-shot price written on it with a permanent marker and there are $1 raffles available for premium bottles of hooch.

On a particular Sunday as we visited the numerically monikered establishment, a small group of folks were shooting pool and enjoying themselves as a thin man with an oversized jacket began rapping. Two ladies topping off at 5-foot-1 took umbrage with his rapping, chastised him, and began blasting Ranchera music on the digital jukebox. It’s Sunday Funday, Essex style. A small dance party ensued but quickly dispersed as ‘Turn Down for What’ began playing. The lights went down for a colored light display and a dance party of none, but the volume increased by 55 percent anyway. A man in a Baltimore Ravens hat drummed on the bar with his hands as Lil’ Jon repeatedly told us to turn down for what and we wondered aloud, “Because no one else is here?”

Bottom line, if you’re lost/stuck/are living in Essex and more importantly are seeking an exceedingly low bar tab, 444 Liquors is your jam. And be sure to pick up a bottle or two of Wild Irish Rose on your way out through the liquor store. 

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