The Baghdad Bar and Grill: Remembering The Days When A Beer Run Was A Blast

The Baghdad Bar and Grill: Remembering The Days When A Beer Run Was A Blast

August 09, 2019 2 Comments

The Baghdad Bar & Grill
Remembering the Days When A Beer Run Was a Blast

DPx Gear Founder, RYP Remembers His Time In Baghdad  -- There was a special time in Iraq after the invasion and before the insurgency really set in. A strange place of Hescos, blast walls, and drinking Belgian Coronas on the roof while watching fire fights and car bombs. It was Baghdad at its worst - and best.

Contractors, spooks, soldiers and businessmen were pouring in, most of them riding the corkscrew landing flight or the tedious high speed run from Amman to Baghdad in high mileage Ford Excursions.

Baghdad was “Green” or “Red” based on the ever expanding blast walls and the short run to Baghdad International Airport (aka BIAP) along Route Irish.  It was guaranteed to provide thrills, as insurgents took pot shots, blew themselves up or launched “shark teams” to zipper unsuspecting cars.  If you survived that, plus the crushing heat - you could use a drink.

WHERE TO HAVE A DRINK BETWEEN BOMBINGS
There were official bars like the “Ishtar” at BIAP or the famous Al-Rasheed Hotel.  For non-drinkers, the Green Zone Café had shisha and live acts.  As you may have guessed, they all were blown up or closed down at some point, so the bars and hang outs for Westerners moved into basements and back alleys.  Places like the Chinese restaurant, "Cum Knocking Shop" and The Baghdad Country Club. Wait - what? A golf course inside the Green Zone? Relax. It is all just the dark humor that flourished at the time.

BAGHDAD BOOTLEGGERS & SPEAKEASIES
Also inside the Green Zone, was a truck-based liquor store that required snaking through the armored F450’s and Suburban's interior to get to the golden treasure inside. Crates of ice cold Heineken, Corona and other smuggled beer were available.  For a certain window of time, an attractive 22-year-old blonde coed from Florida named Heide was available too. You can’t make this up. This was Baghdad.

The driver that brought the goods from Amman and the local airport also risked his life to quench the thirst of locals. If the military showed up it was game over, someone would rat out the liquor store and it would be shut down…just long enough to look official.  Then it would magically re-open.
THE TOP LOCAL HOTSPOTS
In addition to the hotspots outside of the T-walls, were hotspots inside. Depending on the day, pop up bars inside security team houses, embassies and secret spots would serve booze on the proviso that it was word of mouth.

Probably the most famous was the Baghdad Country Club (which owned the aforementioned crowded retail outlet) which even sold branded polos with a golfer. There was no golf course, however.  The creator was former British para-turned-contractor-turned-bootlegger James Thornett, who managed (for a very short window) to run a decent club with cigars, good wine and a "fin de siècle" ambience, that only a war zone can create. Their slogan was “It Takes Real Balls to Play Here”.

Other bars popped up and the Journos had their own little bars on their hotel roofs. Journos would do their stand ups and then catch up on the latest gossip and news until the cool hours of the morning. 

In the end, the male dominated sausage-fest of the bars gave way to more discreet hotel rooftop get togethers. In the shift from US control to the Iraq-ification of Baghdad, the bar was repeatedly raided and ultimately shut down in 2007. Owner James and the lovely Heide were given 24 hours to leave Iraq.  
BAGHDAD NIGHTLIFE TODAY
Today Baghdad is not quite back to normal, but the city has no shortage of nightlife. Not so much of the alcoholic kind, but shisha bars, outdoor restaurants, ice cream shops filled with young people - most of whom do not remember the bad old days - when grabbing a drink was a life or death event. 

The DPx Gear Baghdad Bar and Grill™️ is a tribute to all those speakeasies, roof top watering spots and entrepreneurs who kept Ex-Pat spirits up and cool during the hot years of Iraq. 
Check Out the Other Collections:

 

Kabul Country Club Home of the Talibar 

 

Mogadishu Yacht Club

 

 

 

 

 

 




2 Responses

Stu
Stu

August 18, 2019

It was good to see you has your H.E.S.T Ti frame lock with you when you were there !. I bet it opened plenty bottles of beer with it and was used plenty when you were there. I take my H.E.S.T Ti everywhere I go now as it’s a little tank that loves nothing more than to work work work. I use the Falkniven DC4 to sharpen my knife when I’m out and about. How do you keep your h.e.s.t sharp when your out and about ?

Gregg Ragle
Gregg Ragle

August 18, 2019

Love it Robert! A small but great read. What a treat. Hope all is well on your end.👍💪

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Robert Young Pelton Explains Why Pandemics Are More Dangerous Than War Zones
Robert Young Pelton Explains Why Pandemics Are More Dangerous Than War Zones

July 13, 2020

In this episode of DISTANCE, we sit down with legendary explorer, journalist, filmmaker and author Robert Young Pelton. Perhaps most well known for his seminal New York Times’ best-selling tome, The World’s Most Dangerous Places, which explores in great detail some of the most perilous and life-threatening situations you’ll ever read about, taking places in hands down some of the worst hellholes the world has ever known.

Read More

DPx Gear in Men's Journal
DPx Gear in Men's Journal

July 08, 2020

Plenty of great knives are being made overseas these days, but the bladesmith scene in the U.S. is thriving. From big companies and small shops, you can pick from a wide variety of stellar cutting tools, all crafted with care and precision in America. We selected a few folders and fixed-blade knives that will make any outdoor slicing, carving, or chopping task this summer easier and more enjoyable.

Read More

DPX Gear Releases the Titanium DECADE Edition of the DPX HEST/F: A Celebration of Ten Years of its Flagship Folding Knife
DPX Gear Releases the Titanium DECADE Edition of the DPX HEST/F: A Celebration of Ten Years of its Flagship Folding Knife

June 02, 2020

San Diego, CA -- May 25, 2020 -- Robert Young Pelton is known for working in and surviving the world’s wars. Whether it is Libya, South Sudan or Afghanistan, his designs for DPx Gear are the direct result of his hard won experience. The constant use, testing, upgrading and real world punishment of his designs have resulted in the third generation of the famous DPx Gear HEST/F (“Hostile Environment Survival Tool/Folding”) knife, now ten years old.

Read More

Get 10% Off Your First Order.

Sign Up For DPx Gear Updates and More Special Discounts.

Not only do you automatically get 10% off your first order, as a DPx Gear Dispatch Subscriber, you will gain access to new product information, free content and exclusive DPx Gear offers. 

Check your email for your exclusive code.