Crystal on the Fourth of July, 2010
Before I started, I didn’t really understand the social aspects of public drinking.
I’d been to plenty of bars and clubs, and ordered plenty of sodas for myself or drinks for friends. But that was the extent of it. In my mind, the bar was a dispensary and the bartenders no different than cashiers, albeit with a specialized knowledge. And actually, you can easily get by like that. You may not get the most prompt service, but any respectable bartender is still going to take your money and be polite.
Now I realize that bars are social beasts. You’re generally going out to either drink and enjoy yourself or drink and forget your sorrows. In either case, you want a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. If you go somewhere with any regularity, develop a relationship with the bartender, because they will start to remember you, one way or the other.
A friendly relationship with the bartender means service. A friendly relationship can mean that not all of my drinks will end up on my bar tab. A friendly relationship can make unrequested drinks show up in front of me unexpectedly. (I almost wonder about the financial mechanics of this. Bars must have some basic policies… how do they come about?)
That person on the other side of the bar not only probably knows exactly what’s available without even looking, but they likely know more mixed drinks than I’ll ever try in my entire life. (Though I’ll damn well work on that…). It has been a universal truth for me that any time I let a bartender recommend a drink, it is better than anything I would have specifically ordered. And most bartenders seem to enjoy serving something besides vodka-cranberries. And the friendlier the relationship, the more they seem to put into mixing something special.
Practicalities aside, how much more enjoyable is it to laugh and catch up with someone, (or get to know someone), rather than to sit silently staring into a glass. I’d much rather feel like I was socializing than just being a ‘customer’. The bartender is a person too, and deserves as good a day as anyone. Like any other social interaction, everything goes both ways
And while the alcohol undoubtedly loosens things up, I notice a huge difference in the amount of socializing done with other patrons. The kinds of bars and clubs I prefer are not for the reclusive. It’s a social activity in a public place. I can be extremely anti-social when the bad mood strikes, and yet I usually end up talking to someone new on most every visit.
Yeah… this is all probably blindingly obvious. But it stands out, to me. A little world I didn’t know about until I fell down the rabbit hole.