Our man on the barstool extols the virtues of communal drinking
Ever since I turned 21 (and not a minute beforehand, honest, officer), I’ve been a big fan of bars. High-end bars, dive bars, hotel bars, cocktail lounges, tiki bars, restaurant bars, nightclub bars, and even (when pressed) a fern bar.
I judge my travels and vacations not of the sights I’ve seen or the attractions I’ve visited, but on the bars/lounges/pubs I’ve spent a seemingly inordinate amount of my free time inhabiting. Listing my top ten places to visit isn’t by location, but by where I’ve tipped a glass or two of tasty intoxicants.
A long line of girlfriends, most of whom I met in a bar now that I think about it, have often questioned my love for social drinking. And with reason, for I am in fact considered to be the classic lightweight when it comes to imbibing. Even so, it’s rare for me to go more than a few days without spending a few quality hours passing the time in one of my favorite watering holes.
“Why do you go out, when you have a full bar at home?” they ask. “Why do you want to spend ten times what it costs to buy a bottle, paying by the drink?”
The simple answer is that I’m not paying for the drink; I’m paying for the community. Some people spends hundreds of dollars on golf equipment, greens fees, cart rentals, golf clothes and whatnot for personal entertainment. I do the same thing, only indoors, surrounded by like-minded people, and without having to exert more energy than it takes to raise and lower a pint glass.
Turning through the pages of this very issue of The Pulse, you’ll be introduced (or re-introduced) to many of Chattanooga’s finest drinking establishments. Of which we are blessed to have quite a variety from which to choose. Having once lived in a dry county in the Georgia hinterlands, I, more than most, truly appreciate how “blessed” is the appropriate word to use.
“But why go to bars to hang out with people? Surely there are less expensive places to be sociable,” that long line of exes has asked more than once. Indeed, there are many places to go, but there is something about bars that makes them far more interesting to me: the spirit of the people (no pun intended).
Okay, maybe the pun was a bit intended. But to my point, I’ve always enjoyed to company of other drinkers. Alcohol has long been called the “social lubricant”, and for a very good reason. When people get a drink or two inside them, they tend to relax and let their hair down socially. You can have discussions about nearly everything under the sun: sports, politics, entertainment, politics, music, politics, history, and even a political discussion or two.
Try doing that at the library.
Even better is when you find the “regular” bar. That one establishment that you make a habit of returning to like a swallow to Capistrano, only a lot more often. You get to know the regulars, the bartenders, the barbacks, even the delivery people. Okay, maybe I spend a bit too much time in my favorite establishments, but that’s just me; I like meeting people.
“You just like spending time with those people more than me.” Well, to be honest, they don’t care if I’ve vacuumed the house, fed the dog, taken out the trash, made the bed, remembered their birthday, or replaced the toilet paper roll. So, maybe I do.
And maybe next time around I need to start dating a bartender.