The 4 Types of Bar: A Survival Guide

I like bars, and I think I know why: I like drinking. I find that if I drink enough, I get a buzz, and if I drink more, I get drunk. Maybe it's just me. I'm weird like that. Oh, I left out an important part. The stuff I'm drinking is alcohol. Was that obvious? Sorry. I'm a little messed up at the moment because I'm writing this from a bar. It's not actually open yet, but there was a perfectly good bucket of huffable gas in the alley next door and the vagrant I beat to death with a brick didn't mind sharing. Well, what else are you supposed to do at 7:49 a.m. when you're waiting for a bar to open?

What? You think you're better than me?

But even though I like bars, they are not all the same. They come in all shapes and sizes, and our young, impressionable readers need a sexy older man with a misspent life to shepherd them through the liquor-spilled tabletops of adulthood. So get into my boozemobile and let's examine four kinds of bars and what you can expect from them.

(BTW, my boozemobile is a car that runs on alcohol -- I'm not condoning drunk driving. If you take only one lesson from this article, let it be that drunk driving is wrong and beating the homeless to death with bricks to steal their huffing supplies is completely acceptable. Is that two lessons? So be it. That's how much I have to teach.)

#4. The Irish Pub

Of all the bars, the Irish pub is my favorite. It's never too loud. It's never completely packed. And despite stereotypes, you're not likely to get into a fistfight unless you do something stupid like scream "Van Morrison wrote 'Brown-Eyed Girl' about Shane MacGowan."

Shouting "IRA? More Like U-R-GAY!" would also be bad.

The Selection Offered & What You Order

There will be Guinness, Harp, and several of the standard shit American beers you've come to love. There will also be a decently stocked bar with Absolut Vodka, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and at least one good scotch.

Do not order the Guinness unless you're a 65-year-old retiree from the mother country who plans on doing nothing but drinking five of them over the course of seven hours. If they're done right, they're thick, meaty works of art that make no sense for a night of getting drunk. Order what's on tap, or any liquor straight or on the rocks. Don't get fancy. I once saw a frat boy order a cranberry and vodka in an Irish pub. The bartender did a quick scan of the bar to make sure he wasn't on an errand for his girlfriend who's suffering from a yeast infection before suppressing a laugh and fetching his order. Did the bartender and I share a politically incorrect laugh at his expense when he left? We did!

I recently went drinking in a Irish pub with the Gentleman Bastard Brendan McGinley, who ignored my advice about not pounding Guinness and consequently ended up looking like a pompous twat. In his defense, however, his shirt appears to fit his body and is not inexplicably shiny.

The Staff

There's a reason only about nine people live in all of Ireland. The majority of the country's inhabitants seem to have left the home country to work in New York City bars. (Yes, I'm basing these experiences on New York. Sorry, I didn't travel the world to do a comprehensive case study. If you'd like to fund such research, let me know.)

I'm not saying that all the Irish are the same, but all the Irish use exactly one personality in the performance of their bartending duties. And why not? It's the quintessential bartender demeanor. Every Irish bartender I've met has excelled in exhibiting courteousness without being subservient. Then they take that and mix it with a healthy dose of world-weary cynicism. You will feel like you know the Irish bartender instantly, and yet if you come back 40 times, you will never get to know him any better. A touch beyond friendly and always a yard short of familiar. I went to the same pub all the time for years, and every single time I bumped into the bartender at the urinal, he said the same thing: "Jews piss in the alley with the blacks and queers." Actually no, he said, "I used to think you buy beer, but now I know you only rent it." Every single time.

The Crowd

No one too fancy. No one too completely coarse. People who think hanging with friends and getting slowly drunk over the course of a night is its own reward.

#3. The College Bar

I went to school in a town with a ridiculously strong enforcement of the drinking age, so I didn't start hitting college bars until near the end of my college experience. (Seriously, even their fake ID checking was superb.) Then I continued going to college bars for a few more years before moving to the Irish pubs that became my mainstay. Anyway, they suck unless you're the kind of person best described as someone who sucks. Then you might feel right at home.

"You're not talking about me, are you, broheim?"

The Selection Offered & What You Order

Bud, Coors, and something stupidly hoppy, like Magic Hat. They'll slip you Svedka or Smirnoff for your vodka unless you specify Absolut. Grey Goose is a maybe, and if it's there, its obscenely overpriced to take advantage of the girly girls or guys looking to impress with daddy's plastic. Grab a Bud and call it a day.

There might also be a Hooters reject floating around with shot glasses, tequila, and ginger ale or some sort of shot-glassable abomination. She'll flirt you up to do some tequila poppers or vodka fizzies or gin jizz blasts or whatever the establishment is calling its overpriced liquid disgrace.

The Staff

The staff sucks. They're young guys who can't tend or they're hot chicks who do that shitty flirt technique of laughing at jokes you never even made. They also think they're good at their jobs because they are young and inexperienced and likely drunk.

"I know how to make ALL the drinks: vodka and cranberry, Jager shot, and beer!"

The Crowd

Frat guys, sorority sisters, losers trying to act cool. If an anonymous group of people could be summarized in three letters, it would be DUH. Every six seconds, you will hear some girl shriek, "OMG, I LOVE THIS SONG." Some people will get into a brawl that will devolve into a 20-minute slap fight until a bouncer ends it. Numbers will be exchanged and everyone will pretend to have a swell time. Some people do a have a swell time in this environment. Assholes. I'm not sure what happens to them in five years when they're too old for the college bar. I guess the ones with money move on to the fancy pants bars and the failures move on to the dive bars, ruining both.

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