Choice, consistency and courtesy are the three C’s for how to become a regular at your neighborhood bar. And guess what? Being a regular at your local bar is good for you. According to this article quoting Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University:
“Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and well-being. Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face: the digital world is simply no substitute. Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary.”
So it’s not a big surprise that having a place where when you walk in people are happy to see you, just like in Cheers when Norm would clamber into the joint. It’s almost like being greeted by a bunch of Golden Labs at some locals. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s good.
Maybe not the best example... LOL
How to Become a Regular at Your Neighborhood Bar: It’s Up to YOU
Going to a bar where they know you is a little like going home. And it’s one of the things that make a good place a great good place. Being a regular offers the satisfaction of routine, ritual and belonging. It’s the difference between being a visitor and part of the family. Becoming a regular takes time, consistency, effort and charm.
First of all, you’ve got to pick a bar—maybe two, but let’s not get carried away—and stick with it, at least for a few weeks. Choose carefully. Make keen use of your senses. How does the place feel? Pay attention when you walk in. If you don’t like the vibe, scram. Why waste your time? I prefer a subtly welcoming place with favorable music at a medium-low volume level. Odors like cleansers, urinal cakes and acrid frat beer will drive me out in a big hurry.
How to Become a Regular at Your Neighborhood Bar: CONSISTENCY!
Consistency is the key in becoming a regular. Go the same day and time. This way the same bartender will be working and get to know you. Establish a little routine. Sit at the same spot. I recommend the bar, where the action is, and not a table. Ordering the same drink is a good idea, too, and though my drink choice is weather and mood dependent, I know this helps. Bartenders will remember you as the Beefeater martini guy, for example. One Brooklyn bartender barely remembers my name, but can name the drinks my wife and I ordered the first time she served us. Go figure.
Now, what do you bring to the party? In certain joints, you’ll want to talk to the bartender, and possibly other patrons, too. In some places, maybe not. It depends on the tone of the bar. Mind your manners. Be a good guest. Engage. Ask the bartender’s name. Use your coaster. Don’t get sloppy drunk. Say please and thank you. Ask for menu recommendations, or what new drinks the bartender might be working on. Any unusual beers on tap or obscure whiskeys the staff likes? Again, this sort of chattiness isn’t appropriate for all bars. Use your head. Follow the lead of the locals. If the other regulars aren’t your crowd, bail.
How to Become a Regular at Your Neighborhood Bar: Be Generous and Courteous
Tip generously. 20 percent is fine, and if the drinks are inexpensive (happy hour deals, cheapo beers) tip at least a buck per drink. Why be stingy? As Frank Sinatra said about money, “Spread it around!” It’s good karma and makes you a good regular. If a free drink comes your way, be appreciative, tip 20% of its value, and never, ever act like you expect it to happen again. It’s a gift, not a given. More tips on tipping here.
When you leave, address bartenders by name with a thank you and goodbye. Again, using a name is just good manners. You don’t have to be a salesman about it, using it in every damn sentence, but at least when you exit. Oh and ALWAYS make a CLASSY exit.