Savannah has always been a drinking town and Pinkie Master’s dive bar at 318 Drayton Street was its epicenter from 1953-2016. Luis Christopher Masterpolis, better known as Pinkie Master, wisely located his establishment across Drayton Street from the old DeSoto Hilton, in its day Savannah’s hotel of choice for politicians and businessmen. Masterpolis loved politics and over the years local and state elected officials made unofficial campaign stops here. An urban legend that Jimmy Carter announced his presidential run standing atop the bar has been refuted but Carter dropped in on the evening before St. Patrick’s Day 1978 and paid tribute to Pinkie, who had died about a year earlier.
The perfection of Pinkie Master’s, as anyone who ever drank a beer there would tell you, was its lack of pretense. It was a dive bar in the truest since, serving cheap American tallboys and never taking credit cards. The booths and seats were often sticky and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes (long after the smoking ban) lingered in the air. You had to walk up to the bar and order as there was no table service. And fist fights were common from time to time. Just what you’d expect in a dive bar.
A good friend of mine who owned the building at one time stated that he loved having Pinkie’s as a tenant. There were occasional complaints, he noted, but Savannah loved the place and the complaints generally went unanswered. With new ownership came myriad changes. Legal issues brought on by unclear ownership and the sorts of things one might expect to befall a dive bar came front and center and a new owner took over by early 2016. A PBR sign still hangs outside, but a new nameplate identifies the restructured establishment, The Original Pinkie Masters. Varying camps will debate whether it’s anything near the original, but I’ll leave that to locals, being just an occasional patron myself.