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by Kimberly Rivers

Rudder Room
2929 Ocean Drive, Oxnard
At Hollywood Beach

If you’re not a resident of Ventura County, click away now or turn the page. Because I think that I’m about to disclose a bit of local lore that people try to keep secret: The perfect bar. 

Located in a nondescript blue building, an unadorned door leads to a plain hallway that opens up to a small room overlooking the sand dunes of Hollywood Beach. The bar is unpretentious in every way. A small plastic hula girl dances on the window sill behind the bar under a “Cash Only” sign. Luckily, I had a $20 dollar bill.

This bar certainly qualifies as a dive, but it’s also total perfection. 

I had heard about its great margarita, and the warm, breezy summer afternoon was perfect for this tried-and-true cocktail. The barkeep mixed it up quickly and served it on the rocks with an ample pour of well tequila. He placed the cup on the bar and said, “That’ll be $6.” 

What I hadn’t understood about the Rudder Room was that “on Hollywood Beach” means actually on the beach. The bar does face the ocean, and the side patio provides a wind barrier, but you can take your cold beverage out onto the sand, kick off your shoes, sit in a chair and enjoy the very best atmosphere of any bar. 

There is no hickory smoke gun, no edible bubble and I’d venture a guess that there’s no persimmon shrub or tangerine juice options. Just solid cocktails, priced correctly, with a million dollar view. 

I took my $6 margarita, walked out to the beach and found a chair. Set my drink in the sand. Took off my shoes and took a sip. There is nothing to say other than the drink was only surpassed by the view of the ocean, the feel of sand between my toes and the delicious wind blowing gently off the ocean. 

The small crowd I sat among was obviously mostly locals. I overheard one man, on the phone, asking a friend, “Why aren’t you here?” I couldn’t help wondering why I’d never been there before. I sipped slowly, savoring the tartness, down to the slice of lime. The Adirondack chairs are perfect for lounging back, enjoying the sun on your face and letting the work day slip away. 

Remember to bring cash, bring your friends or perhaps someone special for what would be an impressively romantic sunset date. If you sit on the beach, remember to bus your cups and bottles yourself. 

And once you’ve arrived: Sip your drink. Enjoy the sand between your toes and the sun on your face. Great drink, the beach, perfection.