Locking down bars

I love bars and drinking, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read more than two or three of my posts. I like booze, I like the atmosphere of (most) bars, I like talking to people in bars. Hell, I even met Tradwife in a brewery. She wasn’t so Trad back then, but neither was I.

Yeah, I know it’s not good for me, physically. But as Charles Bukowski wrote, “Find the thing you love and let it kill you.” The bigger problem is that drinking can be a very expensive hobby.

As professional cad Christian McQueen noted in a post from a while back, it really pays to have your regular bars (and clubs, if that’s your thing) “on lock.” Christian spells it out here, but I will warn you now: do not click that link if you’re triggered by intense and unapologetic male pursuit of casual sex with beautiful women.

I have several bars on lock here in Phoenix, though I’m not a clubgoer so I can’t speak to that (read McQueen’s article for that). But getting a bar on lock boils down to a few things:

– Regularity. You have to show up there consistently. Last Friday night I dropped into one of my regular spots just to show my face and do some maintenance, because I hadn’t been there in a couple of weeks. Chatted up the two bartenders and a manager with no expectations. It doesn’t hurt to go in when it’s slow. That’s when you can actually have a decent convo.

– Tip well. You don’t have to be extravagant — I hear bartenders and servers gripe about shitty tips constantly — but you do need to set yourself apart from the catty happy hour typists and HR drones who squabble over every cent, and the cheap fucks who tip 5-10%. Assuming no comped drinks, I usually tip about 35%. If I do get free drinks, I make sure to tip on the value of those, as well. Good tips are like an investment, and will come back to you in comped drinks and better service.

– Get to know the bartenders, servers, etc. Different bar last Friday night, I had a funny convo with one bartender about his crazy roommate, and talked to the other about his golf game. At another bar that night (we were barhopping) I listened to the bartender moan about her car troubles. The thing is, these folks usually have a finely-tuned sense of bullshit. You have to be genuine in your interest. They’ll usually know it if you’re just trying to get free drinks. I’ve hung out with some of the cool ones outside their bars, including an absolutely smoking hot Hooters bartender, and a server who is a part-time model/actress and a full-time legit 9 (what constitutes a 10 is entirely subjective, but that’s another story).

It definitely pays to have places on lock. Three bars last Friday night with Tradwife, and here’s what happened:

Bar 1 – Higher-end place with good wines and snooty cocktails. Half off all our drinks, and that meant half off the cheap happy hour prices. Stayed for almost three hours and left with a nice buzz for $21 plus tip.
Bar 2 – Irish pub emphasizing beer and whiskey. Got two free Jameson rocks. Paid for two beers, so $8.
Bar 3 – Sports bar right after the Diamondbacks game. Got two shots and two beers free, plus I already get 15% off because they love us. Six drinks and the bill was all of $7.

Generous tips at all, of course.

One of the funniest things now is the looks on the faces of other bar patrons who don’t have the places on lock. I’ll go in before a game or concert when it’s three deep at the bar and just wave to the bartender. They already know what I drink, so it just appears for me. Other people waiting will be all “WTF?”

I just smile at them. Okay, it’s more of a deplorable smirk.


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