The Dive Bar Rules - Pick Up a Stool and Enjoy a Proper Watering Hole February 09 2015
It isn't the fancy shmancy cocktail bar you love to order dealer's choices at. They don't have the same booze the other spots do. They surely don't have the right ice and there is not an Edison bulb in sight. A coaster slung across the wood and a "What are you havin'?" may be the first introduction to a very important drinking establishment you should learn to appreciate. Here are a few guidelines you need to know if you want your local dive to be a sanctuary and not just that neighborhood "hole in the wall" into which you've never ventured.
1. Make it yours.
Don't bring your friends here. Don't bring your girl here. Don't even talk about it. It is your secret now. Make sure it's on your daily route and a place you can frequent without having to go out of your way.
2. Pick your standbys and stick to them. Every. Single. Time.
By choosing something easy ie. generic beer, a pour of whiskey or a [insert booze] and [insert mixer], and ordering it every time they will remember you. Nothing is better than walking in and having the bartender put your drink in front of you without you having to ask for it and being able to settle up at the end without having to pay every time you order.
3. Tip 100% to start.
These drinks don't cost anything comparatively. You are drinking a beer for two bucks and change when you are used to paying six or seven. Just hand the guy a fiver and say we're good. Do it again on the second one and he will probably pick up your third. He'll also remember you next time.
4. Cash is king.
Pay in cash. The drinks are dirt cheap and it makes the transaction much faster and looser. The point is not to be a nuisance. The bartender is not waiting on you in the service sense. He's actually waiting on you so he can get back to the game or a better conversation.
5. Be quiet.
Don't talk other than ordering and stay off your phone in every way. You are new. Everyone else in the bar has been bellying up there for years. No need to spout off what you heard on ESPN yesterday—they watched it sitting where you are sitting right now and probably discussed it in length then. You will earn your spot to talk when you can be trusted. And it will likely start by someone saying "Hey I've seen you in here before. Let me buy you a drink (see rule 2)?"
6. Say "thank you."
When you leave, look the bartender in the eye and thank him or her by name. This and this alone goes a very long way. The whole point is to be remembered so next time you walk in they say hello, pour your drink, start you a tab and start up the conversation where you left it.
You can have multiple spots around the city at which you use this regimen. If your place serves burgers for lunch, stop in once a week and have one with a cold beer. They will remember you over time. When you get done with work, stop in and have another before hoping on the train. Before you know it, you'll have reached regular status just by being polite and having a few drinks. Use your spot before a date by stopping in and relaxing with some liquid courage. And maybe some great tips from the old timers for after dinner. What you are doing is creating a space that is different than your normal reality because it isn't your scene and it isn't what you normally drink and the conversation is not what you usually partake in. If you are anything like me, it will become a peaceful sanctuary in no time.