Repost from an article I wrote for Spoon University in March of 2015
It is the eve of your 21st birthday. 12:01 am you will finally break the threshold of the last thing standing between you and adulthood. You have been dreaming of what the bars would be like since you set foot on campus. Would it be like the James Bond movies with “martinis on the rocks” type nights, adorning brightly lit bars with bottle service and suits and white-gloved waiters? Or would it be more like an rugged old fashioned bar with antiqued wood, biker gangs and bearded angry looking locals? Most likely, your first bar experience will be neither.
Nevertheless, here are a few basic tips you can go into the bars with that will make your first time as smooth as possible.
1. Know the happy hours.
Do you know who the people are that pay full price for drinks every time they go to the bar? Some may call them the inexperienced ones. Every local watering hole has a happy hour in which they give away brews and booze at prices that won’t break the bank any given night. Whether it’s dollar beers on Wednesdays, mixed drink madness on Mondays or festive hat Fridays, check the signs or even ask the bartender about these deals made for the starving college student who still wants to go out on a weekend with friends.
2. Get to know your bartender.
The fact of the matter is, once you enter a campus bar, there is a large likelihood that you will end up going into that same bar again. Strike up a conversation with the bartender, they have the wisdom and knowledge to tell you what to order and what not to order, what is a rip off and what is the steal of the century. They also have the ability to make your drinks stronger, weaker, well-mixed or half-assed, so if you’re in the inner circle, you will probably end up with a better drink. If you know the bartender, you can avoid long wait times because they are more willing to help a friendly face move to the front of the line than other random patrons.
3. Know what you’re getting.
Ordering at the bars needs to be specific, so know what you want by the time you get up there. Toss in words like “neat” or “on the rocks” and the bartender now knows they’re dealing with somebody who knows what they like and what they want. Asking for a name brand drink helps you to avoid suffering through a glass of low-quality booze without any chaser in sight. Be the person that knows what they like to drink and when to be cost efficient or to splurge.
4. Ask what’s on tap.
The bar is no place to drink a lukewarm can of light beer. Save that for a house party where options are low. Go up to the bar, ask what’s on tap and you just might find your new brew! Be open minded and try something adventurous. Tell the bartender what you want and watch the foamy cascade of liquid gold fill your glass to the brim. Take a sip and ask yourself why you have been drinking those canned beers someone tossed you out of their backpack for all those years.
5. Tip your bartender.
This is the service industry and they’re expecting a tip. Believe me when I say this, they remember those that do and those that do not. I’m sure I do not need to tell you which one gets better service in the future. Don’t be selfish and show the people behind the bar some love.