How To: Find a Local Watering Hole

:: By: Genuine Joy Contributor Briana Berg ::

I grew up with parents who always frequented a local watering hole - a place where they knew the bartender, knew the drinks, knew the menu, and felt at home. It’s not that they needed to drink, it’s that they need a port in their storm. Somewhere to shake off the day, share their tales, and laugh.

Currently, at their spot in Connecticut, the bartender knows that my dad likes his Guinness cold, his weakness is good pizza, and that my mom only drinks Chardonnay. Needless to say, this bar feels like home to them.  

And these local bars are being hailed as more than places for people to grab a drink. They can be the community locale, a place where everyone comes together to share their grievances and good times. This article notes them as being an important part of a neighborhood.

But unless this local pub, alehouse, lounge, joint, or dive bar falls into your lap, how do you find one? Below I’ve rounded up my five tips for finding and delighting in your own personal port in the storm. Take the alcohol out of it, and you could easily apply these tips to a yoga studio, a bookstore, or coffee shop.

1.    Figure out what excites you – If you love craft beer, a spot that boasts 50 craft beers on tap each week is going to be your haven. Or if you are a die-hard fan of a particular sports team, focus on that. The end goal is to find a place where you can be yourself, enjoy yourself, and maybe even meet some like-minded people.

2.    Do your research – Use Google and really research the place you’re planning on frequenting. You don’t want to get there on Tuesday night to find that out it’s $1 oyster night, and you hate oysters.

3.    Don’t go alone – Bring someone with you your first time venturing to this new spot. Once you’re comfortable, you can go alone, but to start I always recommend traveling in a pack. Get the girls out for a night somewhere they’ve never been before. The possibilities are endless!

4.     Let the bartender know you’re new – You don’t have to come off as timid or naïve, but a simple, “I’m new to the area” or “this spot is new to me” is quite effective. They may have some awesome restaurant recommendations or be able to tell you about a secret thrift shop. Regardless, they’ll appreciate your honesty and will most likely be kind.

5.    Become friends with the bartender – It doesn’t have to be your priority, but it is helpful. Who doesn’t love making a new friend who happens to work behind the counter? They can tell you about upcoming events, listen to you vent, or just help you feel like you aren’t alone.

I’m curious; do you have a favorite local bar in your city? If so, why do you love it so much? Let me know in the comments below!