SURPRISE!!! I’m ALIVE!
No, that’s morbid. Why would I not be? Let’s start this again.
Hi! I’m back (and almost a year older!). Remember how I used to blog on this thing? Maybe I should try that again.
I had a lovely evening with a pair of good friends and they let me know that they were on a “secret” search for a neighborhood bar where they could become regulars. Out of respect to their search/results, I will not give any names up.
HOWEVER, I WILL SHARE MY IDEAS FOR MY PERFECT BAR!!!
I almost feel silly for posting a general idea like the location for a bar of choice. I can feel the rolling of eyes as this is being read (love my sassy friends!). Hear (read) me out, though! Some people think that it’s best for a bar to be local and within walking distance. I care more about the neighborhood the bar is in. I don’t mind having to drive a little bit to get to a good place. I’m of the opinion that you can walk to your bar, or you can get a reasonable uber ride to and from your watering hole of choice. As long as either is manageable, that should be sufficient. The worst thing is being stuck out in the middle of nowhere when trying to get to bar number 2 or proceed to any post bar activities. If it’s centrally located for any of your other frequent exploits, then you’re set up pretty well for a quick drink and subsequent shenanigans.
There are a couple of things that have to be on point if I am even going to consider checking out your bar. Before I settle down, I need to know whether or not I can get certain things. Sometimes, I feel fancy and I want a mojito. If you are lacking mint, I want nothing to do with ya’ll. Seriously though, I’m always more than a bit miffed when I find an establishment that does not have ginger beer. I need moscow mules and the occasional dark & stormy to make appearances during my outings. If the place can’t make your favorite drink, it takes things out of the running. The other thing that I like dealing with folk who are up for a drink challenge. Don’t be so against the formula. If you’re too “by the book” I can’t drink at your establishment. This leads me to the next important thing…
Bartenders are an important part of the bar going experience. I don’t need to be fooled into the idea that you want to both make my drinks and be my best friend (although, to be honest, I will probably want to be your bestie if you make me a good drink). I like places where the bartenders are up for a challenge. One of my favorite places to go, back in my Sacramento days, was the Elephant Bar. I know what you’re thinking: “it’s a chain restaurant, the drinks had to be formulaic and weak”. The Friday night bartenders were not only super knowledgeable about drinks, but they were willing to have me stump them. I could come in and name a drink and they’d try like hell to produce it. I hate the kinds of bartenders that roll their eyes if you ask for a cocktail that has more than 2 ingredients. Life can’t be all jacks and cokes! Friendly people, knowledgeable about drinks, and not afraid to suggest great ones. That’s the dream!
Loud bars, quiet bars, big bars, small bars. So many options, which one is the best?! Personally, I like bars that have an inside and outside environment. If the weather is nice, what’s better than having a drink in the sunshine? If it gets cold later, move the party indoors. I like a good, even balance of available options. Recently, I went to a place called Mad Oak in downtown Oakland. I loved that there was a good indoor space, if you wanted to sit and chill, but more importantly, the entire roof is a lounge area out in the open for those spring/summer nights when the sun is still up after 5pm. Another place that I like with that mix is Southern Pacific Brewing Company in San Francisco. The indoor area is huge, has many levels, and the outdoor area is pretty accommodating. I like the idea of options. Nobody makes baby drink in a corner! Also, there need to be cool folks chillin in the spot. I don’t want to be in the presence of a bunch of douchbee’s (what up bologna barb?!), but there can’t be a bunch of people watchers (that’s boring/too much like me).
I don’t know about you, but when I drink, I get hungry. Unfortunately for me, I am also really picky about what I’m eating. The truth of the matter is that a lot of bar food sucks. Thankfully for me, I spend lots of time in a place that takes their food as seriously as I do. The Bay Area has lots of establishments that also cater to those with pickier preferences than just bar nuts or nachos (actually, shout out to well done nachos. I’m looking at you, Royal Exchange). There has to be some good eats if I’m going to sit and spend a good amount of time at your place. This heavily factors into things. As a backup, I can throw it right back to the location. If you are at a bar that doesn’t serve food, they should be close to a place that does and will allow you to bring that food into the bar so that you can eat and drink simultaneously.
Lastly, I have a certain fondness for places that have the small extras. One of my favorite places is the Hobnob in Alameda. Not only do they stock up on ginger beer, but they have many games that you can play. There is a bookshelf full of board games and you can rent decks of cards from behind the bar. Another place that I like is Albatross in Berkeley. This place has lots of tables for playing board games (which you can rent from behind the bar). It also has a full area for pool, a dedicated area to darts, and cheap popcorn! The drinks there are also pretty good. Depending on what time of the year it is, I would also love a place that had tvs that could be paid attention to for sports events.
If I had to try to create the perfect bar for me to become a regular of, it would have the tasty drinks of Mua (in Oakland), the nice extras of Hobnob, the space of either Mad Oak or Plank (without the bowling alley, arcade, and shenanigans), and the foot traffic/ambience of Dr. Teeth (in San Francisco). That’s my random assortment. What kind of stuff do you look for in a bar? Perhaps we can grab a drink together sometime, if I haven’t offended you with my list of demands. I promise I’m a pretty chill guy…